SKETCH of a typical aerobic treatment unit tank, aerator, chamber Aerobic Septic System Troubleshooting:
List of Problems in Aerobic Septic Systems

  • ATU PROBLEMS - CONTENTS: List of problems that occur in aerobic septic systems. Drugs, disinfectants, salt, and filter clogging affect aerobic septic tank systems
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about problems with the operation of aerobic septic systems

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This article discusses problems that occur in aerobic septic systems, also known as aeration septic systems or fine-bubble septic aerators. We identify things that cause problems with or harm aerobic septic systems.

At this website are designs and products for aerobic septic treatment units (ATUs) for onsite waste disposal, also called fine bubble aeration systems. We address aerobic septic system design, features, inspection, repair, and maintenance. Product sources are also listed.

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Aerobic Treatment Unit Problems

SKETCH of a typical aerobic treatment unit tank, aerator, chamberDrugs: Systems serving homes (or nursing facilities) where occupants are consuming large quantities of medications, particularly antibiotics or possibly chemotherapy drugs, can be rendered inoperative if the antibiotic or drug level concentration is sufficient to kill the microbes in the ATU.

Disinfectants: Use of improper septic effluent disinfectant in aerobic systems: be sure to use the proper disinfectant in order to avoid both environmental contamination and violation of federal law.

See AEROBIC Septic System Disinfection with Calcium Hypochlorite and

AEROBIC Septic System Disinfection with Chlorine Tablets for details.

Filter clogging: I have received complaints of frequent outlet filter clogging on some aerobic septic systems. I speculate that the cause may have been a fault in the upstream solid-holding tank(s) such as a broken or missing baffle, use of the system beyond its design load, or perhaps improper use of a septic additive or chemical which may have increased the level of suspended solids.

Salt: Systems serving homes with hard water and which use a water softener can be rendered inoperative if high levels of brine are discharged into the ATU. Water softener backwash and brine will need to be discharged to a separate drywell.

Overloading: A residential ATU is at risk of being overloaded and failing to adequately treat its effluent if it has not been properly sized during its design phase.


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