Aeration Septic System & Treatment Unit

Aerobic Treatment Units (ATUs) or a aeration septic system is popular septic system because the wastewater effluent leaving the septic tank is treated to a higher standard. Aerobic Treatment Units are often used for small lot sizes (ATU use a smaller leach field footprint) where a conventional septic tank would not work due to for example inadequate soil types or a high water table (close to water). Also, families sometimes like that the wastewater coming out of the system is teated with either ultraviolet light or chlorine tablets.


How do aerobic septic systems work?

An aerobic septic system uses oxygen forced into the aeration chamber with the use of an air blower or compressor. If your property is on solar power, it is a good idea to add a timer on your blower/ compressor so it only operates during sunlight hours. This will also reduce the noise from the septic tank during the night.

The additional oxygen stimulates natural bacterial activity within the system, which in turn aids in the treatment of nutrients in the effluent. Many aerobic systems have a pre-treatment tank before the aerobic unit or may have a pretreatment tank within the unit to allow solids and sludge to settle before the effluent wastewater enters the ATU. The last stage of treatment is a disinfection stage is to treat wastewater with either a chlorine tablet or ultraviolet light to reduce harmful pathogens as it is leaving the entire aerobic septic system.


What are the benefits of an aerobic system over a conventional system?

The benefits of an aerobic treatment unit system are:

  • Can be used on smaller sized lots as drain field size is smaller

  • Can be used on lots with poor or inappropriate soil conditions (see perc test)

  • Can be used on lots with a high water table or close to a body of water like lake, river or creek.


What are the negatives to an aerobic treatment unit

  • Expect regular maintenance for the lifetime of the system, specifically to service the blower and change chlorine tablets regularly

  • Noise from the churning of the system and blower can be high (recommend a timer so only runs during the day)

  • Installation costs can be higher than a conventional septic system

  • High water usage can negatively affect the system

  • Not suitable for cold weather climates unless the system is insulated


Want the best tips to maintain your septic tank? Here are our most popular articles to help you out:

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Frequently Asked Questions about Aerobic Septic Systems

What is an aerobic septic system?

An aerobic septic system is a type of wastewater treatment system that uses air and bacteria to break down and treat household waste. Unlike a traditional septic system, aerobic systems have an aeration system that helps to promote the growth of beneficial bacteria and improve the efficiency of the treatment process.


What are the disadvantages of an aerobic septic system?

One of the main disadvantages of a aerobic septic system is that they require a constant source of electricity to operate the aeration system. This can increase the cost of ownership, especially if the system is located in a remote area where electricity may not be readily available. Additionally, aerobic systems require more maintenance than a traditional septic system or septic tank and may be more expensive to install.


How long do aerobic septic systems last?

With proper maintenance, an aerobic septic system can last between 15-20 years. It's important to note that the lifespan of the system can be affected by a variety of factors, such as the frequency of use, the amount of waste generated, and the type of materials used in the construction of the system.


Do aerobic septic systems need to be pumped?

Yes, aerobic septic systems require regular pumping in order to remove any accumulated solids and maintain their efficiency. The frequency of pumping will depend on the size of the system, the amount of waste generated, and the number of users.


Can you flush toilet paper with an aerobic septic system?

Yes, you can flush toilet paper with an aerobic septic system, just make sure it is a septic safe toilet paper brand. However, it's important to be mindful of the amount of waste that is generated and to avoid flushing any non-degradable materials, such as wipes or feminine hygiene products, which can clog the system.


How often do you clean an aerobic septic tank?

The frequency of cleaning an aerobic septic tank will depend on a variety of factors, such as the size of the tank, the amount of waste generated, and the number of users. On average, aerobic septic tanks may need to be cleaned every 3-5 years. It's important to have your aerobic septic system inspected and cleaned regularly by a licensed professional to ensure its efficiency and longevity.

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