April 28, 2021

How Much Does Septic Tank Emptying Cost?

If you live in a rural area, you know the importance of a correctly functioning septic tank. 

Homes with no mains sewer systems require a septic tank for baths, dishwashers and toilets to drain into, but the tanks need to be emptied around once a year.

It's imperative to hire accredited septic tank emptying services too, because they will supply their own specialist equipment to empty the tank and dispose of its contents securely and safely. 

But how much does emptying a septic tank cost? The truth is that many different factors need to be taken into account before a contractor can give you a cost. We've outlined these in our quick guide below.

See also: These Signs May Mean Your Septic Tank Needs Emptying

How much does it cost to empty a septic tank?

The cost to empty a septic tank is usually priced between £80-£300. The price varies depending on the size of the septic tank and the time it will take to empty it. 

Please note the below are rough estimates, until our team have access and has seen your septic note we won't be able to advise properly on a cost or time to empty.

Size of septic tank Cost of emptying
Small £150  -£200
Medium £200 - £250
Large £250 - £300
Extra Large £300 - £500

Please note: This can vary depending on size and access

Septic tank emptying cost affecting factors

There are some key factors affecting the cost of emptying a septic tank. These include:

The size

The size of the septic tank will determine how long it will take to empty, which affects the cost, depending on how the company operates. In simple terms, larger tanks cost more, and smaller tanks cost less.

Some contractors will charge per 1000 gallons, whilst others will have set prices for set tank sizes.

The size of the tank is determined mostly by the property's needs and the amount of solids being produced. A larger property will naturally house a larger septic tank to cope with the amount of waste, which means the cost will be at the higher end of the scale.

The type

The type of septic tank a property has matters too because of the amount of chambers concealed within the tank.

Bottle-shaped, onion-shaped, or round septic tanks only house two chambers which makes them easier to clean.

However, older septic tanks, such as those that are brick built or are made with masonry usually have three chambers and can be trickier to access and clean.

The ease of access

When emptying a septic tank, clear access must be made for the tanker to be able to get close enough so that the vacuum hose can reach the bottom of the tank.

This is why septic tanks are recommended to be installed within 30 metres of an access point so that emptying is less of an issue. 

Other factors, such as the degree of inversion of the pipe from the truck to the tank can also affect the location, as can obstacles such as fence panels or heavy garden furniture which would need to be removed.

Failing to prepare for the emptying tanker, such as not advising of narrow, difficult or low access could lead to incurring increased charges.

The location

As is often the case in the property market, the location of your property will have an impact on the cost you pay to empty your septic tank.

Rural locations which have no accessible main drains can be classified as severely remote, and could incur additional costs.

In other areas where access to the property is difficult or challenging, such as with narrow lanes or weight restrictions, extra fees need to be factored in, as contractors are forced to shell out more on costs.

The labour involved

Any costs to empty a septic tank will automatically include the cost of labour.

A tank operator is responsible for driving the vehicle, operating its machinery, removing the sludge and solids from the tank, emptying the tank, and then taking the waste to a sewage treatment facility. 

To that end, the extent of the labour costs will be entirely dependent on the tank's size, the property size, the ease of access, and the work involved in emptying the tank.

Septic tank emptying cost: Additional factors

Septic tanks should always undergo regular maintenance by the homeowner, and the first place to begin is to monitor what is going into the drains. 

Discarding items such as significant food waste down the drain of your sink could cause solids to build up fast, and make the process of emptying the tanker more labour intensive, and therefore much more expensive.

Owning a septic tank can take some getting used to, especially for homeowners who may have moved from the city to a rural area. Mindsets and habits must change, and homeowners need to be aware of not only what they put down the sinks and toilets, but also what cleaning products they use.

If you're the new owner of a septic tank, you can read our blog to find out what it is and how it works.

Good maintenance regimes can help to reduce the costs of emptying your septic tank. There will be a low maintenance cost, but this will help avoid any bigger and costly issues in the future.

Routine checks to make include:

Using the correct cleaning products

If you own a septic tank, bleach is an absolute no-go, as are many supermarket antibacterial products like hand washes and antibacterial wipes. 

Before buying cleaning agents it's a good idea to check the detergents and the severity of the antibacterial ingredients involved. 

In a septic tank the anaerobic bacteria within it is responsible for breaking down as much solid waste as possible. Adding in different chemicals, or disruptive bacteria into the balance will offset it and prevent the tank from doing its job. 

This can be time consuming but is worth it in the long run to avoid creating problems within the tank, and to reduce cleaning costs.

Jet cleaning

Jet washing helps to prevent the build up of any material which may block the flow of water reaching the tank. This can help the overall costs of a cleaning service as the tank will likely be easier to access without material blocking the drains, as well as keeping it in a better overall condition.


CCTV inspections can help to carry out examinations of the drains if there is a suspected serious issue with the septic tank, such as if your septic tank is overflowing

These quick examinations can help to prevent a minor issue turning into a major or expensive problem.

A CCTV inspection will only set you back around £350 to £450 according to Checkatrade. This price will vary depending on the detail needed in the survey, but this cost could be well worth it in the long run.

How to reduce septic tank emptying costs

As well as carrying out good maintenance, there are other steps homeowners can take if the costs to empty their septic tank are proving too high. Your own septic tank may have its unique issues in regards to the above factors affecting costs. The below tips will be relevant, however.

Our tips to reduce the cost of emptying your septic tank include: 

Ensuring the bacterial balance is kept intact

For a septic tank to function correctly, it must be able to break down the waste entering it, and to do that it needs to have the correct bacterial balance. 

Retaining the bacterial balance means not putting harsh chemicals into the tank, such as bleaches, antibacterial soaps or any other antibacterial household cleaners. Often the chemicals in these products will actually destroy the anaerobic bacteria and damage the environment in the tank, leading to a plethora of problems.

Using the right detergents 

To maintain the anaerobic bacterial balance in the septic tank, homeowners must use detergents with low levels of phosphate. Items such as dishwasher tablets are high in harmful phosphates which can damage the good bacteria in the septic tank. 

Using detergents with low, or no phosphate levels helps the bacteria in the tank to decompose the solid matter, preventing drainage fields being overloaded with solids and leading to blockages. 

An optimum bacterial environment will also prevent sludge from building up quickly, which will make the process of emptying the tank both quicker and easier, lessening the costs of labour involved.

Making sure there is adequate access

The septic tank emptying process starts with easy access. Restrictions or difficulties of septic tank access can lead to incurred additional labour costs, or even being charged for a failed visit if the tanker is unable to properly access the tank.

Things to be aware of include narrow country lanes, difficult terrain, or bridges with weight levels. These elements can all have an impact on which vehicle is suitable for the job, and the wrong vehicle can be a costly mistake. 

Should a wrong or unprepared vehicle turn up and fail to gain sufficient entry to the site it's likely that you will be charged for the failed visit, and for another, different vehicle to attend the property. To avoid this, make sure to accurately communicate the location of the property, any notable terrain requirements to be aware of, and the access to the tank if possible with your contractor. 

Septic tank emptying regulations

When emptying septic tanks you need to be aware of the current legislation and what you need to adhere to. If not, you could be in store for some fines.

Septic tank regulations changed quite a bit in the UK in January 2020. It was then the 2020 Environment Agency Septic Tank General Binding Rules were launched. Within these rules it was stated that septic tanks can no longer be emptied into any type of waterway. Examples include rivers, canals, surface water drains and streams.

So again, this highlights the need, and must, for reliable septic tank emptying services. This is pretty much the only way you are allowed to empty a septic tank. Any company you choose to carry this out must have a waste disposal licence. This ensures they will dispose of the liquid waste at a waste treatment plant in the proper and legal way.

If you wish to find out more about these regulations you can do so here.

Does your septic tank need emptying?

D-tox have been running for 30 years and among all of our staff, we have a wealth of experience with septic tank emptying services. If you need a septic tank emptying and cleaning service, or simply some friendly advice, call us on 0800 999 2260 or email us at

Further reading:

Christian Heritage

After joining the business at the end of its first year of trading, Christian has been involved in all aspects of the business.
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