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Septic System Comparison

Updated: Oct 22, 2018

What is the difference between them all?


All septic systems require oxygen so the bacteria can properly convert complex molecules into basic molecules like carbon dioxide, water, nitrogen & eat viruses like E. coli. So the major difference between the tertiary systems is how the oxygen gets to the bacteria. Some pump air into the sewage, while others put the sewage into an area with oxygen. Find our comparison below!


What are the advantages of a system that puts air into the sewage?


  • Typically no media that has to be replaced. Some of these systems have a plastic surface area that the bacteria live on that might get blocked but typically only needs to be cleaned.

  • Typically have a recirculating feature that will aid in nitrate removal. 


What are the disadvantages of a system that puts air into the sewage?


  • Require an air pump that typically lasts for about 5 years. The air pump must run 24 hours per day to provide the right amount of oxygen to the bacteria.

  • Air diffuser can easily get blocked & prevent the proper amount of oxygen from getting into the sewage.

  • Yearly inspection is not only required but very important to keep these systems operating properly. If that air pump isn't working at peak performance then it will fail


What systems move the sewage to an area with oxygen?


EcoFlo & Waterloo Biofilter.


What are the advantages of systems that move the sewage to an area with oxygen?


  • No electricity required unless the site doesn't allow gravity & pumping of the sewage is required.

  • Less maintenance due to lack of moving parts.

  • Research still needs to be conducted but because atmospheric air contains 250,000 ppm of oxygen, the bacteria always have ample oxygen to breathe & therefore more advanced colonies of bacteria are present. Water can only hold about 10 ppm of oxygen when air is being pumped into it & therefore bacteria living in the sewage are constantly in competition for it & don't develop large colonies. 


What are the disadvantages of systems that move the sewage to an area with oxygen?


  • Media may need to be replaced periodically or it can become blocked & needs to be cleaned.

  • Units that use peat require complete replacement of the peat every 8 years.


What is the best tertiary system?


Each system has varying setup. Therefore, the answer to this question depends on your site conditions, situation & level of maintenance that you are willing to undertake. 


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For any of your septic system needs, contact Ken White Construction today!

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