Anaerobic Versus Aerobic Septic Systems

When you hear the words anaerobic and aerobic you may be thinking of exercise. Well, turns out these terms don’t only apply to exercise- they apply to septic systems as well. These terms refer to the bacteria that live in your septic system.  Anaerobic bacteria do not need oxygen to live. Aerobic bacteria need oxygen to live. However, both types of bacteria are essential for breaking down the waste inside septic systems.  It may seem a little strange to be classifying the bacteria that break down waste, but they are actually quite important to the overall health and function of your septic system.


Anaerobic Bacteria

As soon as you turn on a faucet or flush the toilet, the water runs down your drain. After it runs down the drains, it enters your septic tank. This is where the anaerobic bacteria live.  Since septic tanks are airtight, there is no oxygen present in this part of your septic system.  In the septic tank, the anaerobic bacteria break down all the solid waste matter. This process is called anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is when the bacteria transform the waste into renewable energy. This process helps the matter flow freely to the leach field, which is the next destination. Overall, think of this process as a repurposing step for waste.  However, it is important to note that this process usually occurs in larger capacity or industrial septic systems and may not be occurring in your average home septic system.



Aerobic Bacteria

Once the waste leaves the septic tank and flows into the leach field, then we see the aerobic bacteria in action.  Aerobic bacteria live in the soil of the leach field. There, they kill any harmful components of the waste.  Then, the waste can join the groundwater.  Because of this process, you need to make sure that your soil is in good condition. Good soil conditions require the correct pH levels. Getting an Aerobic Treatment System (ATS) as a septic system will help keep your soil healthier and actually requires a smaller area for a leach field. Feel free to contact a professional if you have any questions about which system is right for you.


How to Take Care of Your Bacteria

Even though bacteria are just small microorganisms, they do so much for your septic system.  In order to keep the bacteria alive and healthy, as to ensure optimal septic system functioning, we have a few recommendations.  Try to avoid using anti-bacterial soaps, bleach, ammonia, or other harmful cleaning chemicals.  These substances have harsh chemicals that kill the good anaerobic and aerobic bacteria in your septic tank.  Instead, be sure to try all-natural cleaners and soaps.  If you think you may have damaged your septic system, a professional would be happy to come out and take a look to see what may be wrong.



Now that you know all about the importance of anaerobic and aerobic bacteria, be sure to be extra careful of how you treat your septic system to protect them.