how long does it take to replace a septic tank

A septic tank is one of the most crucial parts of the wastewater system. If it fails, you could have sewage clogging up the toilet, bad smell wafting through the rooms, and expose yourself to serious health hazards.

In this guide, we cover the question “how long does it take to replace a septic tank”, break down the cost, provide maintenance tips, and list a few signs of trouble to look out for.

How Long Does it Take to Replace a Septic Tank?

Depending upon the type of septic system installed and the extent of damage on the system, it can take several weeks to replace a septic tank. Here’s how different factors can influence the time of repair and installation:

Type of Septic System:

There are two types of septic systems available for homes. Each unit is constructed with different materials to cater to different sizes of land. Depending upon the complexity of the septic system, it can take days or weeks to complete the replacement. This is also because replacing a septic tank is costly, and sometimes parts may not be readily available.

Health of the Leach Field:

The septic tank works with the leach field to separate the wastewater from the clean water. If the waste leaks out of the septic tank, the contamination will compromise the health of the leach field by clogging. This would require the replacement of both the septic tank and the replacement of the leach field itself, which will take longer.

Malfunctioning of the Septic Tank:

As with every system in place, the time it takes to replace a septic tank depends upon how much it is damaged. If there is a simple pipe leak, it will take no more than a couple hours to get it fixed; on the other hand, if the tank is backing up constantly, replacement of the entire system could take weeks.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Septic Tank?

A black septic tank halfway buried in dirt outside

A septic tank’s work is of utmost importance in a building’s wastewater system and though repair is quite expensive, there’s no other option but to get it done. Here’s a breakdown of what costs will incur in replacing a septic tank:

  • First, you’ll need a wastewater specialist to come take a look at the damage done and provide an appropriate course of action. This evaluation can cost between $1,000 and $4,000.
  • You might also need to get a permit from the building or the city since a malfunctioning septic tank can compromise the groundwater for everyone. This may cost between $500 and $2,000.
  • Once you get the green signal to replace the septic tank, you’ll need to select the right one. They can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000 especially if it’s a mound-type septic tank.
  • Then, you’ll need a plumbing expert to install the new septic tank and this can be priced at a range up to $25,000. This can be even more costly if the leach field or the drain field is damaged too.
  • You might need to get new parts like a dose pump or an aerator for expensive septic tanks. Depending upon their availability at the market, these can come at an average cost of $100 to $500.

How Often Should Septic Tanks be Replaced?

Generally, a well-selected septic system and well-cared for septic tank do not require replacements or even repairs for at least twenty years and often longer. Then can outlast generations if they are made out of durable materials and kept in top working condition through maintenance checks. Simply clean your tanks every three years to ensure that they’ll perform well and get the job done.

What Are the Signs of a Failing Septic Tank?

Since a septic tank basically diverts the waste and sewage away from the clean water, failure to perform maintenance checks can result in sewage backing up in the toilet drain or pipes and leaving behind a rough smell in the bathroom.

If it isn’t directed towards your home, the waste may be released into the city pipelines or groundwater and attract a lot of bacteria which can make people very sick. Unfortunately, septic waste may mix with clean water and compromise the drinking water.

This is why it’s incredibly important to look out for signs of a failing septic tank. Here’s what malfunction may look like:

  • The toilet drains and sinks are backing up constantly with waste water and sewage.
  • The water in the bathtub, sink and shower drains a lot more slowly than usual despite pumping it.
  • Area around the water tank is contaminated with sewage and standing water.
  • The plumbing pipes are making a gurgling sound.
  • There’s a horrible stench of sewage around all the drainage systems.
  • There’s a lot of algae blooming or spongy grass growing around the leach field and the septic tank.
  • A pool, pond, or lake nearby is contaminated, smelly, or even looking cloudy.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Septic Tanks: Which One Should You Install?

When replacing a septic tank or installing one from scratch, you must know about the different types of septic tanks. This helps ensure you get the right one installed for your home. Here are the two different types of septic tanks available:

Aerobic Septic Tanks

Using aerobic or oxygen-dependent bacteria, an aerobic septic tank digests the excrement and liquid waste. An aerobic septic tank works more efficiently than other septic tanks. Because the bacteria keep multiplying, the system works faster in the long run. Since there is less waste to drain, it requires a small-sized leach field which works perfectly for tiny houses. It is quite expensive though.

Anaerobic Septic Tanks

Using anaerobic bacteria and soil bacteria, the anaerobic septic tank breaks down waste and works together with the leach field to drain the sewage appropriately. The system is simpler and more cost-effective but requires more space to fit the drain pipes, sewer system and the leach field.

Maintenance Steps to Keep the Septic Tank in Check

Septic Tank Outlet Filter Installation

A septic tank usually does not need a lot of upkeep unless you’re buying an aged home. If the building was constructed five to ten years ago, simply get the system inspected. Here’s how to take care of the septic tank:

  • Get the septic system serviced every three years by hiring a plumber to pump and clean it. This wouldn’t cost as much as replacing the tank, and this provides time to save up gradually.
  • Make sure to not waste water. Use as much as you need, but employ the help of efficient sinks, showerheads and washing machines to keep a check on the water usage without lifting a finger.
  • Get leaky pipes fixed quickly since they can easily double water usage.
  • Do not flush paper waste, large bugs, or fish down the toilet. It is meant to digest human excrement and toilet paper only. Everything else increases the risk of clogs.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I replace a malfunctioning septic tank by myself?

It isn’t recommended that you replace a malfunctioning septic tank by yourself. Always contact a wastewater specialist to take a look at the septic system, analyze the repairs that need to be done, and provide an expert opinion on the replacement. Though it will cost more, employing an expert helps ensure the system runs smoothly for years without needing extra maintenance.

What is the best material for a septic tank?

A septic tank can be built out of a variety of materials. Traditionally, they were made of metal and cinder block. Since they require regular maintenance else they’ll malfunction, modern septic tanks are constructed using plastic, poly alloy, concrete, and even fiberglass.

What can clog the septic tank?

Modern septic tanks are pretty great at clearing up the wastewater and do not back up as often as traditional septic tanks. To maintain your septic system’s health, , it is recommended that you flush only excrement and toilet paper. Any solid waste other than that can back up the drain and cause your septic tank to malfunction.

How often should a septic tank be checked for maintenance?

A septic tank does not need incredibly regular maintenance, especially if you’re diligent about using water efficiently and flushing waste appropriately. According to the EPA, a septic tank must be pumped and cleaned every three years to maintain its efficiency.

Why do septic tanks fail to perform?

Septic tanks usually fail to perform because of age, improper maintenance, or regular clogs. They may also malfunction if there’s a leak in the system or the pipes are irregular. If the leach field is blocked by trees, parked cars, or extra water from other drains, the septic system will fail to function.

Brief Summary

Now that you know how long it takes to replace a septic tank and the astounding cost that comes with it, it’s better to upkeep the system using the maintenance tips and keep an eye out for any signs and symptoms of failure. Make sure to get the right septic system installed!

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