How Do You Know If Your Aerobic Septic System's Aerator Is Broken?

Posted on: 25 May 2023


An aerobic septic system pumps air into the septic tank to greatly speed up how quickly the bacteria in the tank break down the solid waste that enters it. They're designed to completely process the waste entering the tank before it's discharged, allowing it to safely be released above ground or pumped into a nearby creek or pond. 

If the septic tank aerator that pumps air into the tank fails, your aerobic septic system won't work properly. While traditional septic systems don't require an aerator to function, an aerobic septic system requires a working aerator at all times. If you've noticed something wrong with your home's aerobic septic system, read on to learn what problems can be caused by a broken septic tank aerator.

Your Septic System's Discharge Smells Foul

Since an aerobic septic system completely processes the waste before it's released from the tank, the discharged effluent from the tank should be nearly odorless. It may smell faintly of bleach or chlorine if your septic system adds these to the waste before discharging it, but it shouldn't smell like raw sewage.

If the discharge from your aerobic system smells like sewage, it means that the waste isn't being fully processed. This can be caused by your septic tank's aerator failing. Without enough air to provide the bacteria in the tank with oxygen, they'll die off. Without aerobic bacteria in the tank, the waste won't be processed as quickly, and it will smell like sewage when it comes out of the tank.

Your Septic System Isn't Discharging Any Waste

The outlet on an aerobic septic system has a filter that catches large pieces of waste before they can be discharged. If your septic tank is starved of air and isn't fully processing the waste before it gets to the outlet pipe, all of the large pieces of solid waste will clog the filter. No effluent will be able to get through, and you'll never see any discharge coming from your septic tank, whether you're releasing it above ground from a pipe or spraying it from a sprinkler system.

Your Septic System Is Backing Up Into Your Home

When the outlet filter is clogged, the waste entering your septic tank won't have anywhere to go. Once the tank reaches full capacity, it will eventually start backing up inside your home. It will come up from the lowest drain in your home, which is often the drain in your shower or bathtub.

If you have an aerobic septic system and notice any of the above signs, call a septic repair company and have your septic tank aerator inspected to make sure it's still working. A septic tank aerator's motor can fail, and it also contains a diaphragm that can come loose and prevent any air from entering the tank. Repairing your broken septic tank aerator will allow you to use your septic system again without worrying about discharging sewage above ground or having your waste back up into your home.

Contact a local septic repair service to learn more.