Traditional septic tanks contain anaerobic species of bacteria, which help to break down solid waste into a more compact layer of sludge. Yet anaerobic breakdown takes a long time, and may even allow certain dangerous microbes to make their way out into the drain field. For faster breakdown and safer treatment, homeowners often invest in aerobic septic systems.

Aerobic septic systems contain bacteria that require oxygen to thrive. Aerobic bacteria accomplish the same task as anaerobic bacteria in a fraction of the time. Yet aerobic systems require diligent maintenance, otherwise they may fail to operate as expected. This article takes a closer look at two key aspects of aerobic septic system maintenance.

1. Air Pump Lubrication

As noted above, aerobic septic systems require oxygen in order for their bacteria to survive. In a traditional septic tank, oxygen levels remain far too low for anything but anaerobic bacteria. This lack of oxygen stems directly from the design of the tank, which remains buried and completely sealed off from the atmosphere.

An aerobic septic system also contains one or two tanks buried beneath the soil of your yard. Yet these systems introduce oxygen into the tank by means of a special air pump. Specifically, this air pumps into the aeration tank where the digestive bacteria reside. The motion produced by the air pump also helps break down larger solids into smaller pieces.

The air pump in an aerobic septic system requires regular servicing to ensure it remains in good working order. Such maintenance must happen more frequently than in a traditional septic system, which does not contain any mechanical components. If the air pump should become excessively worn, it may burn out.

Once your air pump stops working, your aerobic system loses its effectiveness. In fact, within about 2 weeks, the system will start turning anaerobic. Professional intervention restores your system to its aerobic state. In the meantime, the effluent flowing out of your system will be much less processed than it should.

Lubrication makes up the most important aspect of pump maintenance. As time goes on, and lubricant dries up or becomes contaminated, your pump experiences more and more friction. Ultimately, such friction increases the rate of wear and causes your pump to burn out more quickly. Regular maintenance helps watch your pump and keep your system in working order.

2. Air Pump Filter Replacement

Another common cause of premature air pump breakdown involves excessively dirty air filters. An aerobic septic system’s air pump works much like an air compressor, except that instead of outputting air into a compression tank, it sends it into your septic tank instead. Both types of system use atmospheric air as its source.

Unfortunately, most air contains a certain amount of particulate matter, including dirt, dust, and pollen. Such airborne debris cause serious problems for the internal components of an air pump, creating friction that ultimately hastens burnouts. For that reason, your septic system’s air pump contains a filter meant to sequester the majority of such debris.

Over time, an air filter becomes excessively clogged up with dirt. Eventually this accumulated matter begins to restrict flow through the filter. As a result, your air pump struggles to work efficiently, being forced to run for much longer periods of time in order to send the appropriate amount of air into your tank.

An overworked air pump stands a much greater chance of burning out. Therefore, one of the most important aspects of aerobic septic system maintenance involves replacing air filters that have reached the end of their lifespan. To have your air filter professionally inspected, please contact the septic pros at Abbotts’ Construction Services, Inc.