Septic System Cost Considerations

Septic system cost ranges can vary from relatively inexpensive to extremely high, and there are many different considerations that will need to be examined for you to determine which system is right and what the final cost will be. The variety of septic system types available can help keep costs under control, by providing options and alternatives in many cases when it comes to the cost of your septic system.

Your septic system costs can include a number of different fees and expenses, as well as the cost for the equipment needed. The location of the proposed system will also impact the cost, because certain types of land may not work well with a typical system and a specially engineered alternative must be drawn up and created instead.

There are a number of system types that can be used, and each one will offer specific advantages and drawbacks as well as a specific price range for septic system cost. Some systems may only cost a few thousand dollars, while others may run you tens of thousands of dollars or even more.

The property where the system will be installed is a big consideration. Property that has many trees can create a problem because the roots may cause damage and interfere with the proper operation of the system. The septic tank cost will also vary, sometimes by a substantial amount, depending on the size of the tank and the system type.

Septic System Price Ranges

Septic system cost price ranges can fluctuate, depending on the system type and the location considerations, and your geographical location will also play a role in the final cost you will pay. Some areas of the country and world will involve higher labor and material costs, and in areas where no new construction is desired the fees associated with this type of project can be high.

Normally the permit fees and plan costs are not included in the septic system costs, and these will need to be added to the price of the system you have chosen. There are three main components that should be evaluated when considering a new or replacement system, and these include installation costs, maintenance costs, and the costs of the system over the lifetime of operation.

A typical system can last anywhere from twenty years to forty years or more, and each system type will have a typical lifespan as long as proper maintenance and care is provided. If the soil or Perk test is failed then a specially engineered system may need to be designed and approved, and this can increase the septic system cost significantly.

Average Septic System Cost By Type

  • Standard Gravity System - A system that is typical and uses gravity will usually cost between $3,500 and $7,500 to install. This does not include the permit costs or other necessary expenses, simply the testing and system purchase and installation.

  • Pressure System - The septic system cost for a pressure system can range from a little more than $5,000 up to $10,000, depending on the installation site and the area where you live. If there is a difficult location or other special considerations this cost can increase.

  • Bottomless Sand Filter System - Septic system costs for a bottomless sand filter system can range from $5,500 to $8,500 for a typical installation and no special considerations. This is one of the least expensive filter systems available.

  • Mound System - A mound septic system cost will depend largely on the slope and grade of the property, and these systems can cost from $9,000 to $25,000 or more. This type of system can have many variables which can affect the cost you will pay.

  • Recirculating Sand Filter System - A recirculating sand filter system can be one of the more expensive options, and may run from $10,000 to $15,000 in most cases. This type of system includes extra components which will cause a higher price, but also offers benefits that other types may not.

  • Wisconsin At Grade System - This type of system may run from $6,000 to $10,000, and involves a mound. A Wisconsin at grade system is rare, and is not used often.

  • Evapotranspiration System - The septic system cost for this system type is high, and will start at about $25,000 and go up from there. This septic system is ideal for desert areas but not many other locations, and that is one reason why the cost may be so high.

  • Experimental Systems - Very expensive, with high additional expenses in many cases and no guarantee that the system will work as planned until it is installed and operating. This type of system is rarely used because of the high cost and the degree of uncertainty involved.

  • Custom Engineered Systems - Custom engineered septic system cost ranges can vary widely, and this type of system can include many different components. If your property can not pass the required tests for a gravity system or other common type you may need to have an engineer create a system specifically to meet your needs and property.

Factors That Affect Septic System Cost

There are a number of factors that can cause the septic system cost that you will pay to go up. These can include:

  • Many trees on the property, because tree roots can interfere with proper septic operation

  • Existing homes and structures, which may limit the location of the septic system and drainfield

  • Large homes, because increased septic use can cause problems if a larger system is not used

  • Duplexes or multi unit residences, because of increased sewage production

  • Homes with more than the average number of bedrooms and bathrooms

  • High water table, which makes effluent draining less effective

  • Poor soil absorption, so the drain field can not empty completely

  • Small property areas, with little room for a system installation

  • Locations which have an environmentally sensitive aspect

  • Remote areas which are hard to reach

Septic System Efficiency With Small Homes

Septic system cost efficiency is a big factor in your decision to install a specific system type, because you want to get the best possible system for your home without paying more than you have to. For smaller homes there are many systems which may work, and choosing the cheapest possible system may seem like a good idea but it can be a mistake.

The septic system costs that you incur will need to consider many variables, and some systems offer greater cost efficiency for small homes than others will. If you will have a small home in the northern USA then installing an evapotranspiration system would not make financial sense, and would be ineffective while costing a lot more than you need to pay.

For smaller homes septic system cost efficiency is a big consideration, and the most efficient systems for your money will usually include traditional gravity systems, pressure systems, and other types which are highly effective yet do not cost tens of thousands of dollars. The goal is to get the best system possible for your home and property while keeping the costs as low as possible.

Conventional septic systems are usually the most cost efficient, and will work fine with most smaller homes. In some cases this type of system may not be an option though, such as poor soil absorption or limited space.

Small homes do not require large amounts of sewage and effluent processing and storage in most cases, and a traditional system will usually work best for the lowest possible cost. If you have a home that includes more than two or three bedrooms or has numerous bathrooms then this may not be an option, because a larger capacity may be needed to allow proper operation.

Septic System Efficiency With Large Homes

Large homes have a higher septic system cost in almost every situation, because a larger system is needed to handle the waste removed from you home. This may mean larger tanks, more pipes in the drainfield, or even a custom engineered system designed just for your property.

Septic systems which work best with small homes will not usually work as well for large homes, and do not offer the same cost efficiency level. The right system for larger homes will offer a higher capacity, and may need special components or a much larger drain field.

An evapotranspiration system is not very cost effective in most areas, even for larger homes, because of the extensive amount of area required. This type of system may only be cost effective for very large homes in desert climates, where evaporation occurs on a continuous basis.

Pressure septic system costs are usually fairly low, and pressure can ensure that the effluent is pumped throughout the drain field. This type of system can work well even with large homes, and is one of the most effective and cost efficient types of system for most properties.

Large homes must take into consideration the number of tanks required for adequate operation, and then the septic tank cost will need to be added to the rest of the expenses. This is important so that you do not experience a system failure, backup, or overflow.

Septic System Cost Efficiency Reasoning

The septic system cost efficiency is a big factor when determining which system type to use for your project needs. If you choose a system which can hold and process a lot more waste than what your home provides this can be just as bad as a system that is too small, and can not handle the daily discharge from your home.

The amount of waste created by your home will depend on the number of bedrooms and your typical water use. The standard formula uses thirty gallons per person each day, with an assumption of two people for every bedroom your home contains.

The general rule is that a one thousand gallon tank will be adequate for a three bedroom home, or up to six people living in the home. If you choose a system that is not large enough to handle the daily waste your home creates then you could end up spending a lot more on maintenance and repairs over the next few years.

Your septic system costs should be compared to the amount of waste the system will handle, to get a dollar amount per gallon if possible. This will help you determine which system will work best while costing the least, and this evaluation should include the life span of the system.

Some of the more expensive septic systems can cost twenty thousand dollars or even more, and if your home is only worth fifty thousand dollars or so this expenditure may not make sense financially. The first step in determining the most cost effective system for your home or other project is to have the testing done, so you know whether a conventional septic system is an option.

If you can not install a conventional septic system then you will need to look at your alternative options. If your property has a big slope or other features which make a mound system necessary this can get expensive quickly.

An engineered system may or may not be cost effective, depending on all of the factors involved. Sometimes this system may be the best option if a conventional design is not possible, because all of your project details are taken into consideration before the system is designed.

Septic System Cost Variables

  • Your septic tank cost will depend on the tank material that you choose, and plastic may be more expensive than other materials

  • The popularity of a specific system in your area can affect the cost, with commonly installed systems costing less than systems that are not frequently installed

  • Perk and soil testing results, because if the land fails these tests then alternative systems may need to be considered

  • The area available, because small lots may not have the land needed for a designated replacement field and this can cause the installation permit to be denied

  • The contractor chosen, because each contractor may have a different cost

  • The size of the system and the drain field, because larger systems require more components

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