If you are building a new home or starting a new business, you might be faced with choices about what kind of septic system to install on your property. While some properties that fall within municipal limits will not need to deal with this issue, those that are located more rurally will definitely need to install their own wastewater management systems. There are two major types of systems to consider, aerator systems and anaerobic systems, with a few variations existing in each category.
Systems with a Septic Tank Aerator
This type of system is more expensive to install and maintain because it utilizes an aerator to introduce additional bacteria into the wastewater. It has moving parts that require an ongoing power source and regular maintenance, but there’s a lot going on beneath septic tank lids that you may not think about. These systems are really miniature water treatment plants. They have three chambers. The first one catches the wastewater as it flows out of occupied structures on the property. The largest bits of solid waste settle in the bottom of this tank. It is called the settling chamber. Bacteria already within the solid waste start breaking it down.
The water is then pumped into the second chamber (maybe using Blue Diamond pumps). Here, air is introduced into the water. This helps break down solids more effectively because the air contains additional bacteria. The third compartment is also a holding tank. It lets any remaining solids settle on the bottom. The floor of this tank is constructed at an angle, and there is an egress that allows sediments to slide backward into the second chamber for additional treatment.
Anaerobic Septic Tank Systems
This type of wastewater treatment system has been around much longer and is usually cheaper to both install and maintain. The word “anaerobic” means that it operates in a relative absence of oxygen. Therefore, no mechanical parts are necessary to introduce air into it. Additionally, anaerobic systems generally consist of just one large tank instead of three separate ones. They make use of the bacteria already existing in the wastewater to break down solids and clean the water to the point that it can be safely offloaded back into the environment. This does not mean that there are never any parts that need to be serviced or replaced. Some parts, like septic tank lids and risers, can wear out or be broken over time.
Choosing an Aerator or Anaerobic System
There is no real agreement among septic system professionals about which of these systems is superior – a septic tank aerator or one that is anaerobic. Many will recommend the aerator system because it is thought to clean wastewater a little bit more thoroughly and allow the water that is introduced back into the environment to have less overall environmental impact. Other professionals will say that the anaerobic system is just as good at cleaning up wastewater, though perhaps not as efficient. Of course, this system is preferred for its lower cost. It needs less maintenance than an aerator system, but still needs to be pumped out at regular intervals. Therefore, no system is completely maintenance free.