Durango Mountain Range

What Happens When Your Septic Aerator Stops Working?

Septic aerators produce oxygen needed to help an aerobic septic system break down solids and waste in the tank. If these innovative air pumps are unable to perform their jobs it could cause a domino effect on your entire system. Before identifying what happens when a septic aerator stops working, it’s important to first understand how the aerator works, what it looks like, and where it’s located. Here is a brief overview of septic aerators and how they help aerobic septic systems operate:


Since it’s best to think of aerators as air pumps, these mechanisms generally have a box-like appearance. Much like any home appliance, the appearance can differ by brand. However, one commonality for all aerators is the air vents usually located on the side of the unit. These vents allow for air to make its way into the unit before the transfer process begins.


Given that aerobic septic systems rely on the air provided by the aerator, this critical working tool is located above the ground where oxygen is easily accessible. This location is optimal for transferring air down through a pipe and into the aerobic tank where it’s needed.

How it Works

A septic aerator works as an air pump for the aerobic septic system. It pumps oxygen into the tank which changes the tank into an aerobic environment (more on that later). This aerobic atmosphere activates bacteria that helps break down solids and waste. In the end, the aerator’s job makes it easier for the other working parts of the system because of its ability to break down the solids before wastewater is transferred on to secondary tanks or released to a drain field.

The Effects of a Malfunctioning Aerator

Given the aerator’s responsibility of providing oxygen, without a proper aerator, the whole aerobic septic system could be flawed. Here are a few of the signals that could mean your system’s aerator could be insufficient:

Poor Air Pressure – This is the most obvious sign that something is wrong with your system’s aerator. If the tank’s air pressure levels aren’t normal, it means the aerator isn’t pumping properly pressurized oxygen into the tank.

Aerator Filter – Sometimes, property owners are unaware that their system’s aerator has a filter. If a filter gets clogged, it will restrict airflow, slowing the decomposition process.

Alarm – Every aerobic septic system has an alarm. Much like the check engine light on a car, this alarm could mean there’s something wrong with the aerator. It could also mean there’s an issue with something else within your system. Either way, you should contact a septic technician to come out and assess the reason behind the alarm being triggered.

Aerobic vs. Anaerobic Systems

When it comes to septic systems there are two types of options: aerobic and anaerobic. When trying to find the right septic solution for your property it’s important to keep in mind both of these options and the differences that each brings to the table.


The biggest difference when it comes to anaerobic systems is the exclusion of air in the tank. These traditional septic systems work with bacteria that doesn’t need oxygen to survive in the tank. This of course comes at a cost – since oxygen isn’t needed, anaerobic bacteria in the tank aren’t as effective at breaking down certain types of solids like human waste. One reason a lot of anaerobic septic systems are sought after is due to the system’s low operating expense. This of course comes at the risk of having to replace the entire system sooner.


Effective due to the aerator pumping air into the tank that brings life to cleaning bacteria, aerobic septic systems are effective in a lot of ways. By having a septic system that uses beneficial enzymes to decompose solids, you’re only increasing the amount of positive bacteria growth in the tank as a whole. Another positive comes in the form of the size of an aerobic system’s drain fields. Unlike anaerobic systems, aerobic systems require a much smaller drainage field due to its ability to completely treat the tank’s wastewater. This saves property owners space and money when it comes to installing a septic system.

Find Your Septic Aerator Solution

When it comes to your property’s septic aerator, you’ll want to make sure it’s maintained by some of the industry’s top septic professionals. At Mountain Septic, our team can diagnose your aerator’s problems and make the necessary repairs to help get you and your property back to a normal routine.

For more information on Mountain Septic and our septic aerator repair services, feel free to reach us via phone today: (970) 238-7884.