How Much Does a Septic Tank or Leach Field Replacement Cost?

by Team eLocal
Critical case for septic sewer line repair

Septic systems provide an excellent wastewater solution for homes without a city sewer connection, but there may be a time when repairs or replacements are necessary.

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Maintaining your septic system is vital since a malfunctioning wastewater system can leave you with toilets that won't flush, standing water and even environmental hazards. So, how much does a septic tank or leach field replacement cost?

How Much Does It Cost to Replace or Install a Septic Tank?

New septic tank installation costs can vary widely, and the price can be anywhere from around $4,000 to $20,000. While the tank itself may cost as little as $600, there can be considerable costs for labor and installation. On average, homeowners pay around $7,000 for a new tank installation, according to Forbes.

Most septic tanks last from 20 to 40 years, but eventually, all tanks must be replaced. The cost of replacing a septic tank is similar to having a new tank installed. The good news is that, in many cases, you can save money by using the same drain field and pipes. However, you should expect to pay around $5,000 to have the old tank broken down and removed. There could be additional costs if there are environmental problems or if the new tanks can't be placed in the same location.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace or Install a Leach Field?

A leach field typically consists of a distribution box and a system of perforated pipes placed horizontally in rows near your septic tank. These pipes are usually buried about 3 feet underground and are sometimes called a drain field. Once your septic tank has broken down waste, the liquid waste flows from the tank through the leach field into the soil.

The installation costs can vary greatly depending on your property and terrain. If you have plenty of appropriate space for a new leach field, the price may be around $5,000. However, the installation price can quickly climb to $20,000 or more if your property lacks suitable terrain or if an old drain field has caused environmental problems.

Critical case for septic sewer line repair

What Factors Can Impact the Price?

Several factors can affect the cost of the septic tank and leach field installation, and understanding these factors can help you know what to expect.

Choice of Septic System and Leach Field

While all septic systems function by breaking down solid waste and safely draining wastewater, there are different ways to do this. Common types of septic systems include:

  • Conventional
  • Anaerobic and aerobic septic
  • Gravity
  • Mound
  • Chamber-based drain fields

Anaerobic and gravity systems tend to be the cheapest, but they aren't the right choice for every home or property.

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Type of Septic Tank

Septic tanks are currently made from concrete, plastic or fiberglass. You may wish to consider the cost of the tank itself, as well as longevity and installation costs.

According to data from Fixr, concrete is the cheapest at $800 to $1,250, but it also has a potentially long lifespan if well-maintained. Plastic is a midrange option with a similar price to concrete. There’s almost no chance that a fiberglass tank will crack on you, but you’ll pay for that dependability: $1,600 to $2,000 per tank.

Terrain and Property

Leach fields shouldn't drain wastewater onto neighboring properties or into freshwater sources. A leach field also shouldn't be under pavement or buildings. If your property has plenty of flat space above the water table, installing a septic system may be easy and relatively cheap. However, if the water table is high, extra steps are required to ensure your leach field won't contaminate the water. Additional considerations may be required for properties that are rocky or near bodies of water.

Home size can also affect the cost. Smaller homes can often get by with simple septic systems, while bigger homes may need a larger tank or a more efficient system.

Labor Costs

As with any building or home repair expense, the cost of labor in your location will affect the price of septic and leach field replacements. Fixr says the national average hourly rate is between $150 and $200.

Complications Related to Your Old System

Your costs could increase if your old septic system needs to be cleaned up or has limited the options for installing a replacement. Dealing with septic system repairs as soon as you notice a problem can help you avoid extra costs.

Are There Additional Costs to Know About?

Septic systems can impact nearby buildings, water sources and the environment. Be prepared to pay fees associated with permits and inspections as part of the cost of installing a septic tank or drain field.

You should also be aware that excavation costs can be significant. For most systems, a backhoe tractor will likely be needed to dig up the ground for a new septic system or remove the old one. If your property has a high water table or a slope that's not suitable for a leach field, you could face additional costs for excavation or building a mound system.

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