How Long Does It Take To Replace A Septic Tank

If your septic tank has reached the end of its lifespan, you may need to replace it to keep your septic system functioning properly. But how long does a full septic tank replacement take?

The duration of replacing a failing or damaged septic tank depends on several key factors:

  • Permitting and Site Evaluation
  • Septic Tank Size
  • Digging and Preparation Work
  • Installation Process
  • Type of Septic System
  • Weather and Site Conditions
  • Additional Repairs Needed

This comprehensive guide examines all the details that affect the time it takes to replace a septic tank.

Permitting and Site Evaluation

The first steps of the septic tank replacement process involve permitting, planning, and site evaluation:

  • Submitting permit applications to the county/municipality.

  • Conducting soil analysis tests – percolation tests and soil borings.

  • Developing design plans for the new septic system.

  • Finalizing permitting and approvals.

This upfront work usually takes 2-4 weeks depending on the jurisdiction. Making sure all analysis and permits are in order prevents delays later.

Septic Tank Size

Larger septic tanks take longer to replace than smaller ones.

Typical septic tank sizes:

  • 1,000 gallons – 2-3 bedrooms
  • 1,250 gallons – 3-4 bedrooms
  • 1,500 gallons – 4-5 bedrooms
  • 2,000+ gallons – 5+ bedrooms

With proper equipment, a single professional can replace a 1,000 gallon tank in 1-2 days.

Larger 2,000+ gallon tanks often take 3-5 days assuming standard site conditions.

Digging and Preparation Work

The old septic tank must be safely excavated and disconnected before the new tank can be lowered in:

  • Digging around tank and disconnecting pipes takes around half a day.

  • Removing and disposing of the old tank adds another half day.

  • Preparing the site and new tank hole takes about a day.

This prep work adds 2-3 days to the replacement duration.

Installation Process

Lowering the new septic tank and connecting all plumbing lines takes about 1-2 days for smaller tanks.

Larger tanks often require 2-3 days for proper installation and plumbing.

After installation, expect 1-2 days for inspection, testing, and backfilling the site.

Type of Septic System

The full septic system design affects replacement time:

  • Conventional systems with a septic tank and drain field are simpler and faster to replace.

  • Advanced treatment systems with additional filtration, pumps, and components take longer.

  • Alternative systems like mounds require extra excavation and installation time.

Complex septic systems can add a week or more to the replacement timeline.

Weather and Site Conditions

Bad weather or challenging site conditions can hinder digging, installation, and backfilling:

  • Heavy rain or snow can delay excavation and preparation.

  • Freezing temperatures may force postponement until spring.

  • Rocky or wooded sites take longer to excavate and access.

  • High groundwater requires extra dewatering equipment.

Factor in a few additional days for potential weather or site issues.

Additional Repairs Needed

If other parts of the septic system like the drain field or pumps need repair, this adds more time:

  • Drain field repairs or replacements add 1-2 weeks.

  • Replacing broken inlet/outlet pipes or electrical adds a few days.

  • Switching to an advanced treatment system can add weeks.

Any repairs needed alongside the tank replacement will lengthen the project.

The Bottom Line

For a typical 1,000-1,500 gallon septic tank, expect the full replacement process to take 3-6 weeks on average.

Larger or more complex septic systems often take 2-3 months to completely replace once permitting and prep work is factored in.

Replacing a failing septic tank requires careful planning and skilled execution. Make sure to hire qualified and licensed septic contractors to ensure the job is done right the first time. Properly maintaining your septic tank and system can help avoid costly replacement. But when replacement is necessary, follow the tips above to know what to expect throughout the process.

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