Selecting an Aerobic Septic System

Aerobic septic systems inject oxygen into sewage waste, stimulating the growth of aerobic bacteria, which break down and filter the wastewater and solids. While conventional gravity-powered septic systems (whose holding tanks depend on anaerobic bacteria) are the most popular systems in use today, there are situations in which aerobic septic systems are a more appropriate alternative.

Advantages of Aerobic Systems

Aerobic systems have a few advantages over conventional septic systems:

  • Aerobic systems can often be paired with a smaller leaching field than a similar conventional septic system. This can substantially reduce the space required, which can be useful in lots where a large drainage field is unacceptable.
  • Aerobic systems generally produce cleaner effluent (the wastewater that is returned to nature after processing). This is useful in environmentally delicate locations, areas with high water tables and similar sensitive areas.
  • Aerobic bacteria typically break down household waste faster than anaerobic bacteria.


Despite these substantial benefits, aerobic systems are in generally limited use. Their main use is to replace failed septic systems. Here are a few of the substantial disadvantages:

  • Their initial cost is often several times that of a conventional septic system.
  • Since these systems use electric pumps to circulate air through the sewage, the site must have electricity, and the owner must bear the ongoing cost of electric usage.
  • These are substantially more complicated systems than traditional gravity-powered systems, and as such, their ongoing maintenance costs are higher.
  • Not all municipalities allow aerobic septic systems, so be sure to check with your town or city before completing a purchase.

While aerobic septic systems are often used as replacements for existing failed gravity-powered septic systems they can be expensive to maintain and install.

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