How Long Does It Take To Replace a Septic Tank?

How long does it take to replace a septic tank?

The tank is an essential component of the septic system. Its purpose is to separate the wastewater in your home away from clean water. Like all other systems, a septic tank may fail to work, either because of age or improper care. And when it does fail, you will need to know how long does it takes to replace the septic tank.

No one likes sewage backing up their toilet drain. It not only produces a foul smell but also poses a health hazard. It may result in your family members falling sick if it is not handled in time. Perhaps it could be because your septic system has served you for long, and now it is time to replace its components. Or it could be that improper care has rendered the elements or the entire system dysfunctional. [1]

In an ideal situation, proper maintenance of your septic system should make replacement or repair unnecessary for many years, even generations. The decision to replace your septic tank is a costly one, and you should make sure that it is essential.

You should engage a wastewater expert to inspect your system and determine the extent of the damage and recommend the appropriate action.

If it comes down to finding and replacing the septic tank, you will need to know how long it takes and how much the entire project will cost. This will help you make an informed decision on the most appropriate course of action.

Septic Tank Life Expectancy


Ideally, a septic tank should last about 30 to 50 years before it needs to be replaced. Proper maintenance should extend the lifespan of your septic tank as much as possible. Septic tanks that are cared for properly have been known to last more than 50 years before.

The life expectancy of most septic tanks depends on the material used to construct them. Septic tanks made of cinder block or metal typically fail earlier than the others. This is because the material reacts with elements and ends up being corroded. Failure of a septic tank usually results from improper maintenance, abuse and negligence, or old age.

How Long Does It Take To Replace a Septic Tank?


Several factors influence the time it takes to replace a septic tank. These factors include the type of system installed, the condition of the leach field, and the severity of the damage to the tank itself.

  1. Type of septic system

The type of septic system plays a vital role in how long it takes to replace a septic tank. Most septic tanks use either a pump or the force of gravity to aid the flow of wastewater within them. Others like the mound system are adopted for systems installed in locations where the soil is shallow. Each of these systems has unique features, including the strength of materials and longevity. [2]

  1. Condition of the leach field

The condition of the leach field also determines the length of time it takes to repair or replace the septic tank. In some instances, the leach field will need to be addressed when the septic tank is being replaced. Because the two components work together, it is crucial that they both function well for the system to be efficient.

Leakage of waste from the septic tank will eventually contaminate the area around the tank. This can lead to the soil around the tank and the leach field being clogged by microbes, necessitating the installation of a new system.

This will mean that you have to replace both the septic tank and the leach field, which might take considerable time. But in cases where the leach field is healthy, replacement of the septic tank will take a shorter time and cost less.

  1. The extent of damage to the tank

Repair and replacement of the septic tank will last shorter or longer depending on the extent of damage to the tank. A simple replacement of leaking pipes, for instance, might take no more than a few hours. If, however, the damage is extensive, you should be prepared to take quite some time to repair it. This might run into days or even weeks if the whole septic system needs to be pulled out and a new one installed.

How Much Does It Cost To Replace a Septic Tank?


Another major concern when replacing a septic tank is cost. The replacement project is an expensive endeavor that can quickly put a significant dent in your finances. The cost of materials and labor is equally high. You, therefore, need to set aside some funds for the project unless you want the work to stop midway. The cost to replace septic tank and field can run into tens of thousands of dollars.

A typical septic tank costs anywhere between US$1,500 and US$5,000, according to estimates by this source [3]. The cost will be influenced by the type of material used, the tank system, and the size of the tank. The aerobic and mound variety of tanks are the most expensive to install, costing between $10,000 and $20,000 for a new tank.

The cost to replace the septic tank and drain field ranges from $10,000 to $25,000 in the United States. You will need to engage your septic system designer to get a quote customized to fit your needs. The parts outlined A septic system is composed of the following elements:

  • Septic tank: The tank could either be aerobic or anaerobic. The tank receives and keeps the wastewater from the house. It also separates the waste into its solid and liquid components.
  • Drain field: After separation and treatment in the septic tank, the wastewater is transported into the drain field. The drain field serves to naturally leach the water through gravel, sand, and soil into the groundwater system.
  • Pipe network: The pipes connect the main components to each other. They convey water from the house to the tank and thereafter to the leach field.
  • Optional components include the aerator for the aerobic system and a pump or dose pump for mounded septic systems.

Installing A New Septic Tank


There are two significant varieties of septic tanks. Aerobic systems and anaerobic systems.

1.Aerobic septic tanks system

The aerobic septic tank system is more efficient than anaerobic systems. The system utilizes oxygen-dependent (aerobic) bacteria to digest the waste in the tank. The system breaks down waste faster and more efficiently than anaerobic systems. This means that you only need a small-sized leach field to accompany the tank. [4]

As a result, aerobic systems are suitable for smaller properties with less space. The efficiency of the aerobic system is offset by its cost and complexity. Because of the many components required to make the system work, the aerobic tank is much more complex and expensive than the anaerobic one.

It is not uncommon to find the cost of a new tank costing between $10,000 and $20,000. Additional components required for the system include electrical circuitry and an aerator. A pump or dose tank may also be necessary if you decide to install small specialty or mounded fields. The pump pushes the wastewater into the mound in doses.

2.The anaerobic septic tank system

The anaerobic tank system is cheaper and simpler than the aerobic system. Its cost of installation ranges between $2,000 and $5,000. The system relies on anaerobic (oxygen-independent) bacteria to digest the waste in the tank. As a result, the tank is not as efficient as the aerobic one. This means that you will need a bigger leach field to manage the waste not handled by the tank effectively.

The tank system consists of a tank with a sewer line running into it from the house. A branch of the pipe also leads to the drain field. The waste not handled by the tank is broken down by the soil bacteria in the drain field.

Apart from the drain field and the tank itself, there are additional costs to be considered in how much does it cost to replace a septic tank. These costs need to be considered as well to arrive at the final project estimates. Additional costs include:

  • Cost of excavation: Excavation costs range between $1,200 and 5,000
  • Building permits: Range between $400 and $2,000
  • Labor costs: Between $1,500 and $4,000
  • Septic tank materials:

Concrete – Between $700 and $2,000

Plastic and poly – between $500 and $2,500

Fiberglass – Between $1,200 and $2,000

Septic Drain Field Replacement

In some cases, it is the drain field, not the septic tank, that needs replacement. Septic drain field replacement is necessary when the existing field becomes swampy or develops a bad smell. The drain field is responsible for conveying the wastewater back into the soil.

The cost of septic drain field replacement can range from $3,000 to $15,000, depending on the system desired. Types of drain fields include mounded, sand filter, drip, evapotranspiration, built wetland, and chambered septic systems. Each type of drain field has its advantages and the associated cost of replacement or installation.

Cost To Replace Septic Tank And Drain Field

You may be living in an old house whose entire septic system needs replacement. Replacing old septic tank becomes necessary if the system has been in operation for more than 30 years. Such systems are usually run down and need to be replaced. Or it could be that the wastewater output of the new household exceeds the capacity of the existing system. [5]

Taking Care Of Your Septic Tank


From the foregoing, it is quite costly to set up a septic tank in your home. Unless you are replacing old septic tank, it is recommended that you maintain your tank in good working condition. If you keep servicing the tank regularly, the chances are that it will serve you for long without needing replacement.

The EPA recommends that you pump and clean your tank at least once in three years. Other recommendations for keeping your tank in top working condition include:

  1. Examine and pump the tank on a regular basis: Hire an expert to examine and pump your tank at least once in three years. Larger homes with high water usage should do it more. The inspector will assess the system and recommend the appropriate action to keep it working as expected.
  2. Practice efficient household water usage: Efficient water usage is one way of maintaining your septic tank. While normal households spend about 70 gallons of water on average, a running toilet or leaky tap can push this to almost 200 gallons per day. Think about acquiring and installing water-handling appliances with high efficiency. Efficient showerheads, bathrooms, and washing machines can reduce water usage and minimize the stress on the system.
  3. Dispose of your waste correctly: Not every waste should be flushed down the toilet or sink. Remember that everything that enters the sink or toilet drain will wind up in the septic tank. As a general rule of thumb, only toilet paper and human waste should be flushed in the toilet. Everything else should be disposed of elsewhere.
  4. Maintain the leach field: The leach field handles the liquid part of wastewater. It should therefore be maintained to serve for long. Avoid driving or parking your car on the leach field. Moreover, trees should not be planted on the drain field. Water from other drainage systems like sump pumps and roof drains should not be allowed to flow into the drain field.

 Final Word

Septic tank replacement is essential for systems that have malfunctioned. A septic system that does not work is not only an eyesore but can also pose a severe health hazard to people and animals living in the vicinity.

How long does it take to replace a septic tank?

It depends on the type of septic system, the extent of damage, and the size of the system. Replacement of the septic tank can take a few days or several weeks for those that need extensive work. On average, a well-maintained septic system is expected to last between 30 to 50 years. The maintenance or lack thereof will determine if the system needs repair often or not.