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How Aerobic Septic Systems Work

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How aerobic septic systems work

Aerobic systems are more complex than standard septic systems. There are many parts to the system, including electrical components, that work together to treat wastewater differently than standard systems do.

The treatment process

First, the solids and liquids are separated in a trash tank. This trash tank works much like a standard septic tank, but that’s where the similarity ends.

From the trash tank the liquids flow into the aerobic tank, where most of the treatment occurs. Each manufacturer’s aerobic tank is designed different from each other, but the end goal is to create oxygen in the aerobic tank: the aerobic bacteria must have oxygen to live and to treat the wastewater.

A disinfection device then disinfects the treated wastewater — common disinfection devices are tablet chlorinators and liquid chlorinators. Some systems have UV lights instead. (Drip distribution does not require disinfection.)

Next, the liquids flow into a pump tank. This tank has a submergible pump that sprays the treated wastewater onto the lawn through sprinkler heads. In some cases, a system may not have spray heads but may have drip emitter pipes.

Complex electronics

There are many other components to an aerobic system, including the control panel, timers, photocells, etc.; these work together to operate the electrical components of the system (the aerator, submergible pump, and alarms).

Maintenance requirements

All aerobic systems in Texas are required to be checked every four months; Texas also requires an initial two year maintenance contract on every system. After those initial two years many counties require maintenance contracts with a TCEQ licensed Maintenance Provider.

This for the health and safety of the public. If the system is not treating the wastewater, it can distribute a health hazard onto the lawn where kids play and pets run around.

Some homeowners choose to maintain their own system, if the county allows. This may save money in the short term — however, it is usually more costly in the long run due to systems not being serviced and checked properly and thoroughly.

Here’s my example. I know nothing about cars except how to check the fluids and tire pressure, and how to put gas in the tank so that it gets me where I want to go. I know there is routine maintenance that needs to be done to keep my car in good shape, but I have no idea how to do those things. If my check engine light comes on, I have no idea how to diagnose the engine and all the components.

It’s the same with an aerobic system: there are filters that need to be changed, chlorine to be added, etc, but when your alarm light comes on there are many electrical components to check as well. We do not recommend servicing your own aerobic system.

Not all brands created equal

There are many aerobic system manufacturers; not all brands are created equal, though, so you should consider which brand you want to use if you are considering installing an aerobic system. Ask the installer questions about the type of system they install, and if they offer maintenance on the system or if it is subcontracted.

We are aerobic system experts

Van Delden Wastewater Systems installed the first aerobic system with spray irrigation in Bexar County back in 1990. We install high quality systems with the best of service.

If you’re in the market for an aerobic system in the San Antonio area, give us a call or contact us online for a free estimate. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have about aerobic system installation or service.


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