Anaerobic Septic System: Features & Functionality

Here, our focus is to provide all the basic information you need about the functioning of an anaerobic septic system.

These are also known as subsurface sewage treatment systems. As you read on, we’re confident that your curiosity will be satisfied.

Anaerobic Septic System

When the work anaerobic is heard, it gives a picture of the absence of oxygen.

True to its name, an anaerobic septic system doesn’t require the presence of oxygen for bacterial support. It’s common knowledge that certain digestive bacteria are vital to the breakdown process of sewage.

Without these bacteria, the decomposition process will hardly happen.

Anaerobic Digestion

To better understanding the breakdown process of waste, it will be necessary to view it for what it is; digestion. When bacterial organisms act on waste, what they do is simply digest such or change organic matter into simple structures.

These structures hold significant volumes of methane gas and carbon dioxide.

Anaerobic septic systems are much more environmentally friendly in isolation. To better explain this point, these systems (anaerobic) normally generate less sludge as compared to aerobic septic systems.

When fully treated, the sludge from anaerobic septic systems can be used for soil enrichment. What more? Biogas is quite beneficial. These can be used for a variety of purposes.

Such gas is obtained from anaerobic septic systems.

Main Features Of An Anaerobic Septic System

To fully understand how an anaerobic septic system functions, it’s necessary to point out its main feature. The absence of oxygen is one major feature anaerobic septic systems are known for.

Here, the bacterial colonies involved in the breakdown of sewage don’t require oxygen to function.

These organisms perform their tasks quite efficiently. The concept of an anaerobic septic system design is hinged on this fact. As such, you won’t find an aerator as is the case with aerobic septic systems that require oxygen.

In the case of an aerobic septic system, the aerator forcefully injects air into the system or wastewater. This action introduces aerobic bacteria that act on waste.

  • A Little About Digestive Bacteria

So far, we’ve pointed out the fact that bacteria that act on sewage are of two kinds; anaerobic and aerobic bacteria. The former requires no oxygen to digest or breakdown waste while the latter does.

However, one thing that’s common to both is their action (waste breakdown) on organic waste.

Studies by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have found anaerobic bacteria to be more susceptible to household chemicals.

With this information, you’ll need to be more careful about the chemical products that end up in your anaerobic septic system.

How An Anaerobic Septic System Works

The basic design of an anaerobic septic system includes a septic tank that connects to two main pipes. One pipe connects to the house or building and channels all waste into the septic tank. The other pipe leads to the drain field.

The pipe leading to the drain field is split into several other pipes that distribute wastewater across the drain field.

These pipes are located below the ground surface. As the name suggests, the drain field receives all treated effluent and filters the same into the soil.

Going back to the septic tank, it collects all waste from your home. All such wastes are separated into solid and liquid.

Anaerobic bacteria focus more on the solid waste by acting or digesting them, thus releasing methane and carbon dioxide gas.

Encouraging Increased Anaerobic Bacterial Action

Due to the important role played by anaerobic bacteria in waste treatment, the presence of these organisms needs to be encouraged. There are harmful practices carried out unknowingly by a lot of homeowners that kill these anaerobic bacteria.

The fewer bacteria you have acting on waste in your anaerobic septic system, the less efficient it becomes. Therefore, all necessary action needs to be carried out to ensure such bacteria remain and thrive.

Thankfully, their survival rests on basic actions taken regarding what goes into your septic system.

Maintaining An Anaerobic Septic System

To maintain the condition of your anaerobic septic system, you’ll need to regulate the use of certain products.

These include the excessive use of antibacterial cleaning products, toxic household chemicals as well as additives. Let’s further explain each of these.

i. Excessive Use of Antibacterial Cleaning Products

Antibacterial cleaning products are great antiseptic remedies that kill a whole lot of harmful germs. These are widely used for toilets, sinks, and drainages.

Although these perform an important function, they also affect anaerobic bacteria when they get into the system.

What happens is a situation where there’s a slowdown of the digestion process due to the killing of beneficial bacteria. A buildup of scum and sludge results from this action.

In order not to affect or upset the bacterial balance of your anaerobic septic system, it will be necessary to use such products with some level of control.

ii. Toxic Household Chemicals

Just like antibacterial cleaning products, toxic household chemicals are also known to be unfriendly or unfavorable to anaerobic bacteria. These chemicals are harsh and kill-off anaerobic bacteria.

Such conditions are worsened with increased dumping of these toxic chemicals.

Common toxic household chemicals you should avoid include non-biodegradable detergents and solvents. Others are paints, insecticides, and strong medications. Excluding these items from your anaerobic septic system isn’t a difficult task at all!

You can also inform other members of your household to be more cautious about what goes into the septic system.

When preventive maintenance action isn’t taken, you might end up needing to pump your septic tank more frequently than necessary.

iii. Septic Tank Additives

While there are tons of products that promise to boost anaerobic bacteria action in your septic tank, it’s not necessary. The Environmental Protection Agency discourages this practice as unnecessary.

These products might end up creating more problems than they solve.

If they must be used, you should seek the advice of a septic tank expert. Their advice would go a long way in helping you solve the problem than trying to fix the issue yourself.

The basic functioning of an anaerobic septic system has been discussed with vital points covered. You should be able to better maintain your system which in turn extends its lifespan.

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