Living in the boonies normally means having a self contained waste water/sewage treatment system more commonly known as a septic system. Proper use and maintenance of a septic system is important in keeping it working efficiently and prolonging its life. Using an aeration system in the septic tank is one method of ensuring that your system is working in a highly efficient manner.
The reason an aerator septic tank works better then a standard tank is really quite simple; it adds more oxygen into the system which leads to better waste material break down. More oxygen helps two of the three types of bacteria that live in the system process more sewage then they normally would in a non-aerated system.
The three bacteria in question are aerobic, facultative and obligate anaerobic. Aerobic bacteria thrive in an oxygen rich environment while anaerobic bacteria do not require oxygen to reproduce and grow. There aren’t a whole lot of these two types of bacteria found in a septic system, but they can be found there. Facultative bacteria are the most common bacteria found in a septic tank.
Facultative bacteria are unique in that they need oxygen but can survive in an anaerobic environment. They can do this by using oxygen taken from other sources such as food partially digested food items. When they obtain oxygen in this fashion they release hydrogen sulfide gas which gives off a rotten egg smell. Providing oxygen through an aeration system will alleviate this problem as the bacteria will stop producing the hydrogen sulfide gas and emit a more agreeable odor that smells like dirt.
Facultative bacteria are also more aggressive in their consumption of sewage under aerated conditions. In fact they can be up to twenty percent more effective in treating the waste products in the septic tank. This leads to cleaner waste water leaving the tank into the drain field and increases its life.
An aeration tank is a good choice for new systems or if you are thinking of replacing your current tank. You can also have an aerator installed in an existing tank during a maintenance cycle that includes pumping out and cleaning the tank.
In most cases the aerator is located in the middle chamber of the septic tank and will need an electrical source of some sort to operate. Think of a large oversized fish tank pump and bubble system and that’s essentially water a septic tank aerator is. It will provide a constant supply of oxygen rich air into the effluent and allow the beneficial facultative bacteria to flourish.
While an aerator septic tank will lengthen the life of any septic system it must be remembered that proper maintenance and regular inspections are still needed. Failure to do these two things will lead to problems that even a properly aerated system will be unable to deal with.