Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

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PlayingLife
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Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by PlayingLife » Fri May 26, 2017 4:13 pm

So I called the first septic pumping company I found, which is local and had a coupon in one of those mailer marketing packets. Here is the itemized breakdown of costs....

1. "Charges" = $450.00 (Two 1,000 gallon tanks)
2. "Labor" = $125.00
3. "Misc." = $50.00
4. Coupon from the mailer = (-$20)
5. NJ Sales Tax = $41.59

Total = $646.59 after coupon

When I called the other day, the woman mentioned is was $225.00 for the pumping after I told her I have two tanks. She mentioned there could be extra charges if they needed extra tubes over 100 ft or if there were special circumstances. I was very precise in understanding what was said the other day - I thought it sounded low so I didn't gather other quotes. Today I learned it was $225 per tank, plus there are labor costs. They also told me today the one tank only has to be cleaned every 6 years - I told them when I called to schedule that we have two tanks, and they neglected to inform me of this information then. I have no idea what the misc fee is...I'm going to measure the distance to the tank later. Also, they had easy access to the lids (no digging or trouble getting lids off).

Pardon any ignorance as I'm a new home owner here and this is my first cleaning ever. Do you think we got ripped off, or do you think the price is fair?

antiqueman
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by antiqueman » Fri May 26, 2017 4:20 pm

If you got hurt ,I don't think its too bad considering where you live (NJ).

URSnshn
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by URSnshn » Fri May 26, 2017 4:22 pm

Have to say I thought it was quite reasonable. I use to have a septic tank, but no longer so my sense on this may be off.

Edited to remove question answered in the OP's post.

jebmke
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by jebmke » Fri May 26, 2017 4:23 pm

That is about what we pay for same size in Delmarva MD. We pump ours every three years so it isn't a big expense.
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Mako
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Mako » Fri May 26, 2017 4:25 pm

When I had mine done in MD in 2015 it was around the $225 you quoted, but that was it...no extra labor/tax/misc whatever.

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Toons
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Toons » Fri May 26, 2017 4:36 pm

New Jersey,
2 Tanks.
You did fine. :happy
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user5027
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by user5027 » Fri May 26, 2017 4:36 pm

Just had one large and one small tank pumped in SE PA for $310. We do it every 3 years. The same guy has done for 20+ years.

Jonathan
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Jonathan » Fri May 26, 2017 4:40 pm

You are wise to admit that this is your first home, and your first such cleaning, because, whether or not this was a perfectly fair charge, it most certainly raises the likelihood that you paid more than you should have. If your first homeowner experience is like my first homeowner experience, prepare for a similar payment dynamic with various different service providers.

There are various formulas online that you can use to determine estimated pumping frequency based on tank size and usage. Be sure you have a septic overflow alarm, and a power outage strategy for when your alarm and your pump may both be non-functional.

I can recommend The Septic System Owner's Manual.

captpete
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by captpete » Fri May 26, 2017 4:40 pm

We pay $125.00 every three years. We live in Maryland. That is for a 1000 gallon tank 100' from drive. It's a mom and pop operation that's been around forever. No "nickel and diming"

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by hicabob » Fri May 26, 2017 4:41 pm

Where I live the septic man has to pay $85 per 1000 gallons dumped at the waste treatment plant which accounts for a significant part of the cost.

sport
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by sport » Fri May 26, 2017 4:52 pm

Jonathan wrote:You are wise to admit that this is your first home, and your first such cleaning, because, whether or not this was a perfectly fair charge, it most certainly raises the likelihood that you paid more than you should have. If your first homeowner experience is like my first homeowner experience, prepare for a similar payment dynamic with various different service providers.
This is one reason why it is a good idea to become friends with your neighbors. They can help you with things like this.

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knpstr
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by knpstr » Fri May 26, 2017 5:20 pm

$240.00 in MI - One line item charge.
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ddurrett896
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by ddurrett896 » Fri May 26, 2017 5:32 pm

PlayingLife wrote: 3. "Misc." = $50.00
What is this?

Teague
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Teague » Fri May 26, 2017 5:47 pm

Not unreasonable I think. I just paid $425 for a single 1500 gallon tank.

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RRAAYY3
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by RRAAYY3 » Fri May 26, 2017 5:51 pm

ddurrett896 wrote:
PlayingLife wrote: 3. "Misc." = $50.00
What is this?
New Jersey

iamlucky13
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by iamlucky13 » Fri May 26, 2017 6:00 pm

That's probably not out of line, at least not to a major degree. I've heard basically everything is expensive in NJ.

I haven't had mine done for about 5 years (time to inspect it, actually), and at the time it was $375 in Washington state for 1250 gallons. You had more to pump, a few more years inflation, and east coast pricing. I used an independent pumper who was a bit cheaper than the bigger companies in the area. My understanding is the disposal fee at the waste treatment plant was the over half his cost.

The only way to know for sure what pumping costs run in your area is to get another quote.

For what it's worth, according to the local paper, what I pay once or twice a decade for pumping would only get me 4 months of sewer service if I lived in town.

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mrc
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by mrc » Fri May 26, 2017 6:02 pm

$250 last summer. Central Maryland. 1000g tank. 100' from road. The "charges" sound like what they pay to offload at the treatment plant (with a markup perhaps).
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Grasshopper
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Grasshopper » Fri May 26, 2017 6:26 pm

Last month $325, 2 500 gal. tanks had to spend 1 hour stirring 300 gal, of water to get the waste moving. I dug the lids out myself, first time in 11 years, yea I know. :oops: Rural Arizona.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by itstoomuch » Fri May 26, 2017 9:39 pm

OP, seems to be on the low end.
We havent had ours pumped for a longtime. We did away with using TP and the kitchen disposal. :shock: :? :annoyed
YWMV :oops:
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by vtjon » Fri May 26, 2017 10:06 pm

I just had my rental pumped and it was $275 all-in including the guy digging it up though he knew where it was as he had done it before and close to the driveway. This is a LCOL area though.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by TMCD75 » Fri May 26, 2017 10:14 pm

To me, that's steep. I've paid $175 in Indiana about 10 years ago and I paid $225 here in Kentucky last year. Where I live now is a very low cost of living area. We live next to Lake Barkley in Western Kentucky. I don't understand how people live in these HCOL areas, puke.

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stemikger
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by stemikger » Fri May 26, 2017 10:17 pm

My brother-in-law has one tank and lives in Long Island and he pays more than that. I don't think you got ripped off.
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runner3081
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by runner3081 » Fri May 26, 2017 10:26 pm

I will never, ever use a company who advertises with coupons in those types of mailers!

Bonnan
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Bonnan » Fri May 26, 2017 10:48 pm

Please tell me what you all flush down the drain besides human waste that requires pumping every three years? The 3 year pumping practice is the lowest common denominator for very most inefficient practice hence the rational for local ordinances. Theoretically a proper designed system will function years for typical family without pump out. We're not perfect in our practice but go 30 plus years.

Goal33
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Goal33 » Fri May 26, 2017 10:55 pm

runner3081 wrote:I will never, ever use a company who advertises with coupons in those types of mailers!
Why not?
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Lafder » Fri May 26, 2017 11:01 pm

The way a septic tank with drain field works is that the solid materials settle to the bottom and the liquids go out to the drain field which is often rows of PVC type pipes with small holes in them buried in gravel and covered with dirt.

You need to periodically pump the tank or the solids accumulate to the level the liquids drain out.

If the solids travel out to the drain field, they clog the drain holes and you may end up needing to replace the entire drain field at a cost MUCH greater than pumping the tanks every few years.

Just because your system has not backed up into the house does not mean it is still working properly.

This is different from a "cess pool" or tank with no drain field. In that case, the liquids and solids need to be periodically pumped out or it will over flow.

Those of you waiting to pump for so many years are risking damaging the system and then it will need full drain field replacement at a cost of many 1000 dollars.

I paid about 300$for one tank to be pumped.

lafder

bluebirdy
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by bluebirdy » Sat May 27, 2017 5:21 am

Your price sounds a bit high to me but that may just be a regional difference. Call other local septic places to find out, and don't use that one again because of its deception.

Your experience is very similar to one I had. I think it's a fairly common scam in the septic industry to quote one price and then charge double+. I was clearly quoted $X for the complete job of inspecting and emptying 2 tanks on a home I was under contract purchasing, then was billed double immediately after the guy finished pumping the second one. I refused to pay the extra amount, and he threatened to refill both septic tanks with the mixed septic sludge from his truck. Tensions were high and it was only resolved when my realtor happened to stop by and offered to cover the extra out of his commission...

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Kosmo
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Kosmo » Sat May 27, 2017 5:43 am

I paid $285 for a 1250 gallon tank last month. I'm in a western suburb of Philadelphia.

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jharkin
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by jharkin » Sat May 27, 2017 9:52 am

I'm in a moderate HCOL area (Boston) and I pay $300 to get a 1500gal tank pumped out. You price for 2 tanks is a little higher but might not be unreasonable given its Jersey.


One thing to verify though- do you really have 2 storage tanks? That's a LOT of capacity.... Or is it a uphill pumped system and one of them is the pump chamber? In pumped systems only the storage tank needs to get pumped...

Jonathan wrote:.
There are various formulas online that you can use to determine estimated pumping frequency based on tank size and usage. Be sure you have a septic overflow alarm, and a power outage strategy for when your alarm and your pump may both be non-functional.

I can recommend The Septic System Owner's Manual.
The power outage strategy only applies if the OP has an uphill pumped system or one of the alternative systems that uses aerators, etc.
Bonnan wrote:Please tell me what you all flush down the drain besides human waste that requires pumping every three years? The 3 year pumping practice is the lowest common denominator for very most inefficient practice hence the rational for local ordinances. Theoretically a proper designed system will function years for typical family without pump out. We're not perfect in our practice but go 30 plus years.
Some of the human waste is digested by the bacteria in the tank and goes out with the effluent, but not all of it. There is also the scum layer of fats that builds up on the surface. Over time this eventually fills up the tank no matter how few people.

There is not a one size fits all answer for what this frequency is. Unless the system is undersized its usually not the "every year" scare tactic that many septic companies will use to make a buck, but its certainly not every 30 years either unless you have a massive tank like 5000 gallons or such. You may have got fantastically lucky your system didn't fail.

This explains what builds up in tanks and what can happen if you neglect maintenance:
http://inspectapedia.com/septic/Septic_ ... easons.php

There are tables of clean-out frequency based on tank size, usage and household size. Like so:
http://inspectapedia.com/septic/Septic_ ... hedule.php

I have a family of 4 and a 1500 gallon storage tank. The table tells me 4.2 years is good. I try to remember to do it every 3 to be safe, but if I forget I still have a margin of error. Others may have to do it more often, or less often..

WhyNotUs
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by WhyNotUs » Sat May 27, 2017 10:23 am

In my area, locations for dumping waste are limited and prices are high. I would pay that one one tank. Does not seem like a rip-off and now you knwo you system is good for several years and to only pump one next time. I am assuming that your two tanks are inline and the second one is either acting as a dosing chamber or backup, either way if you keep the first tank working then you should be fine.

You should feel good about staying on top of this, many people don't.
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Kiter » Sat May 27, 2017 10:44 am

Misc.= Microbe amendments are added sometimes to promote growth ?

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by dougger5 » Sat May 27, 2017 11:23 am

Bonnan wrote:Please tell me what you all flush down the drain besides human waste that requires pumping every three years? The 3 year pumping practice is the lowest common denominator for very most inefficient practice hence the rational for local ordinances. Theoretically a proper designed system will function years for typical family without pump out. We're not perfect in our practice but go 30 plus years.
I guess that's the rationale our township uses (SE PA). Every 3 years, and if you don't mail/email the receipts, you'll hear about it :annoyed
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Boats day
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Boats day » Sat May 27, 2017 12:42 pm

I don't think you were ripped off.
I pay 300 FOR 1 TANK.

The truck tanks and pumps are very expensive. Add wages, workman's comp ,
Insurance and overhead and the owner is making a reasonable profit.

Kind of a crappy business :greedy :shock: :shock:

mancich
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by mancich » Sun May 28, 2017 5:30 am

This seems reasonable to me. We pay $300 for one 1,250 gallon tank.

chipperd
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by chipperd » Sun May 28, 2017 6:08 am

In CT. $305 for one tank (1500 gal) including digging.
Seems like a fair price, but crappy way to invoice you

Traveller
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Traveller » Sun May 28, 2017 6:59 am

One more data point- I just paid $425 for 2 x 1,000 gal tanks in MI.

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High Income Parent
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by High Income Parent » Sun May 28, 2017 7:44 am

We pay $300 a tank when we get ours pumped in Texas. Seems pretty reasonable what you paid.
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Yooper
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Yooper » Sun May 28, 2017 8:04 am

$200 for a 1,000 gallon tank here. I too was unfamiliar with the septic tank operation, so 3 years after the first pumping I had it done again just to see what 3 year's worth of usage was like. I explained my rationale to the honey wagon guy and he said given the condition of my tank (actually the condition of the contents) I could probably have it done every 5 or 6 years if I wanted. We use septic safe toilet paper, don't have a garbage disposal in the sink, don't run our water softener discharge into the tank and put screens in the kitchen sink to catch as much food waste before it goes down the drain. Also, we're religious about not putting any fats/grease down the drain.

deikel
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by deikel » Sun May 28, 2017 6:44 pm

I am amazed how much variation is there in such a simple task. I get it that different areas have some difference in cost of living, disposal fees ect, but that's still odd. We have 150 USD, double tank in low COLA just for reference.

I would recommend to phone around the next time and look for small operators (not blinky chains) and go for companies that have their home in the boonies maybe 30-45 min away from you...that may result in some savings - always ask for an all in pricing.

Another trick I learned is to ask a construction guy that does septic fields whom he/she would recommend - when thy have to pump for a field repair they want it cheap and they usually know the best fix it guy around town...

Asking your neighbors might also reveal someone cheaper than you currently have, along the lines of - hey, city slicker does not know how the septic works, who are you using for service ?
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by PlayingLife » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:36 am

Thanks for all the inputs BH's! Here is the outcome of my situation...

Again, original chargers were as follows:

1. "Charges" = $450.00 (Two 1,000 gallon tanks)
2. "Labor" = $125.00
3. "Misc." = $50.00
4. Coupon from the mailer = (-$20)
5. NJ Sales Tax = $41.59

After reading some responses I came to the conclusion that my price was fairly high, but not ridiculous. Still, I know what was said to me on the phone - $225 per tank, and "80% of people don't pay more than this". I also knew it was a straight shot to my septic from the road, and that the lids are fully exposed. I was told it would be extra if they needed to run the tubes more than 100ft, so I measured from the place they parked and realized a length of about 125 ft.

With this information in hand, I drove the 10 minute ride to the company's building and spoke with customer service inside. I stayed cool and calm, and asked them to run through the charges. They got tripped up once I explained that i measured, and that the lids were fully uncovered. They went in the back room to call the guy who did the work. Then they came out, explained the guy who did my pumping was "new and not familiar with all the pricing models", and overcharged me accidentally. They refunded me the extra $125 labor charge plus taxes.

The people at the site were very nice, but this goes to show it doesn't hurt to question things and do some homework. I probably could have argued the misc fee further, but they did tell me it would be extra for going over 100ft with the tubes. Thanks for the support Bogleheads!

Now....to blast them on Yelp or not? I will see what kind of mood I am in later today.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by itstoomuch » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:51 am

No, It's "water" that has gone by. You made your point on your visit.
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by mrc » Mon Jun 19, 2017 12:52 pm

PlayingLife wrote:Now....to blast them on Yelp or not? I will see what kind of mood I am in later today.
For reviews, I tend to use experiences like this as a way to underscore good customer service resolution to a problem. Better than not mentioning it, and way better than dinging them after they made it right (mostly anyway).
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by Capsu78 » Mon Jun 19, 2017 3:42 pm

$245 for 1000 gallon tank, all in, a month ago in Chicago NW suburbs. I do it every other year, during a weather agreeable month as a failed septic system is not a cheap or easy fix.
I remember when the price was around $150, but someone came into the area and bought up all the independent little guys and put them under one company now.
To the OP, I don't think you paid too much or too little from what you describe.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by HomerJ » Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:15 pm

PlayingLife wrote:Now....to blast them on Yelp or not? I will see what kind of mood I am in later today.
Just tell the truth. How they screwed up, and how they made it right. Both are important information for the next customer.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by plumberboy » Mon Jun 19, 2017 8:13 pm

itstoomuch wrote:OP, seems to be on the low end.
We havent had ours pumped for a longtime. We did away with using TP and the kitchen disposal. :shock: :? :annoyed
YWMV :oops:
I understand doing away with the garbage disposal but I am puzzled as how you did away with using toilet paper.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by itstoomuch » Mon Jun 19, 2017 10:05 pm

:confused
plumberboy wrote:
itstoomuch wrote:OP, seems to be on the low end.
We havent had ours pumped for a longtime. We did away with using TP and the kitchen disposal. :shock: :? :annoyed
YWMV :oops:
I understand doing away with the garbage disposal but I am puzzled as how you did away with using toilet paper.
We have mulberry and pesimmon trees :mrgreen: :? :annoyed
We had peach trees. :confused
And 3 compost bins. :|
Actual we went modern Paleo water :wink:
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by watchnerd » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:35 pm

Househunting, seeing some with septic tanks:

If you have a septic tank, can you also have a garbage disposal?
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by indexfundfan » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:57 pm

watchnerd wrote:Househunting, seeing some with septic tanks:

If you have a septic tank, can you also have a garbage disposal?
Houses with garbage disposals usually have to have larger tanks.
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aristotelian
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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by aristotelian » Tue Jul 25, 2017 9:02 pm

I have no idea what the market rate is, but I would pay $650 not to have to do that job myself.

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Re: Septic Pumping - Did I get ripped off?

Post by watchnerd » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:23 pm

indexfundfan wrote:
watchnerd wrote:Househunting, seeing some with septic tanks:

If you have a septic tank, can you also have a garbage disposal?
Houses with garbage disposals usually have to have larger tanks.
How many gallons is a larger one?

(or whatever unit of volume they use to measure)
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