What Are The Different Types Of Septic Systems?

Septic systems are an essential part of the house that can vary based on a combination of factors. These factors include site slope, household size, soil type, etc. At the same time, there is an overwhelming number of types as well which often leads to confusion among homeowners when they want to consider septic tank installation. We will discuss the most common types in detail and help you choose the right one that matches your needs and preferences.

Conventional System

A conventional septic system is usually installed for a single-family home or a small business. It is essentially a decentralized wastewater treatment system that includes a septic tank and a bed or trench subsurface wastewater infiltration system known as a drainfield.

The stone/gravel drainfield has been around for decades and happens to be the most common type. The conventional septic system also contains an underground trench of stone or gravel that is piped to the septic tank. Then, a geofabric or something similar is put on the trench. This is done to prevent dirt, etc., from entering the trench.

As a result, the effluent filters through the stones that get treated by microbes as it reaches the soil situated below the stone/gravel trench.  The only downside to gravel/stone systems is that they consume too much space.

This is why this system might not be suitable for all residential sites or environments.

Chamber System

Chamber systems also known as gravelless drainfield systems have been around for nearly 30 years and have more or less replaced the conventional systems consisting of stone/gravel. Chamber systems are also available in different types such as fabric-wrapped pipe, bottom chambers, and expanded polystyrene media. The best thing about gravel less systems is that they can be manufactured using recycled materials, offering considerable savings in terms of carbon footprints.

Furthermore, chamber systems are a relatively more popular choice than conventional systems due to ease of delivery and construction. These systems are a suitable option for areas with high groundwater tables, areas where gravel is scarce, or areas where plastic chambers and other similar technology are readily available.

A chamber system contains a series of connected chambers. The area above and surrounding the chambers is covered with soil. The pipes are connected from the tank to the chambers. Through these pipes, the wastewater travels from the tank to the chambers.

After this, the wastewater then comes in contact with the soil inside the chambers. Finally, microbes there treat the waste.

Drip Distribution System

The drip distribution system can be used for various types of drain fields. It is beneficial because it doesn’t require a big mound of soil. It’s due to the usage of drip laterals that are inserted one foot under the ground at max.

On the other hand, it has a drawback as well. This system needs another tank apart from the septic tank. It’s called a dose tank. This tank is needed because it ensures that the dose of effluent reaches the drip absorption area timely.

In addition to that, this system also requires additional electric components such as electrical power to function properly. This adds to the expense and maintenance in the long run. So, consult septic companies Frederick County for advice before committing to this type.

Aerobic Treatment Unit

Aerobic Treatment Units are quite similar to the municipal sewage plant utilizing the same processes but on a smaller scale.

This system adds oxygen to the treatment tank. Due to the excess of oxygen, bacteria activity is stimulated in the tank. With this, the wastewater treatment is done.

Depending on the type, some aerobic treatment units may also come with a permanent and final treatment tank to further disinfect and reduce pathogen levels. The benefit of such systems is they can be used in conditions where other systems are difficult or impossible to install. They are suitable for homes with a high water table, poor soil conditions, and other conditions.

This type of septic system has a disadvantage too. Aerobic treatment units require lifetime maintenance which can be costly as you will need expert plumbers and septic system technicians.

Mound Systems

If you have high groundwater levels or shallow soil depth, this septic system may be a good fit for your needs. A mound system contains a sand mound that is built further containing the drainfield trench. The wastewater goes from the tank to a pump chamber. There, the wastewater is pumped to the mound.

When installing this type of system, you have to consider the soil type as the soil conditions play an important role when installing a tank. The best thing about the mound system is that it is economical and smell-free. However, it’s not for homes and facilities that don’t have a large amount of space. Moreover, a mound system also requires regular maintenance.

Recirculating Sand Filter System

You can build this septic system above or below the ground as you prefer or according to the ideal condition for the system.

In this system, the wastewater flows from the septic tank to the pump chamber. From there, it’s pumped to the sand filter. This sand filter has sand, but it’s usually made of PVC or concrete.

The wastewater pumping is done at a low pressure so it slowly travels through the pipes of the filter. After getting filtered, the treated wastewater is then sent to the drainfield.

The good thing about this sand filter system is that it’s perfect for high water tables. However, you should be careful because this septic system can more expensive than conventional septic systems.

Evapotranspiration System

The evapotranspiration system is the most unique as it comes with unique drainfields. Another reason these systems are unique is that the drainfield is lined up with watertight material. Once the effluent enters the drainfield, it evaporates into thin air.

However, in this case, the effluent does not filter through the soil and reaches the groundwater either. Keep in mind that these specific types of septic systems are only useful in specific environmental conditions. Not only should the climate be arid but also have proper sunlight and heat.

Although these systems are quite efficient and effective but are at risk of failure if there is extreme rain or snow.

Constructed Wetland System

A constructed wetland system as the term suggests mimics the natural wetland systems but the only difference is that these systems are man-made. The wetland system contains a wetland cell that includes the wastewater flowing through the septic tank.

There two media. The first media treats effluent using microbes, plants, etc., while the other media is employed get rid of pathogens and nutrients.

Typically, a constructed wetland system contains an impermeable liner, sand, and gravel filled with appropriate wetland plants that can only survive in a perpetually saturated environment.

A constructed wetland system only works either through pressure distribution or gravity flow. This system is primarily designed to work alongside a nearby water system providing filtered wastewater, which is safe to consume.


In the end, septic systems vary based on their designs and the conditions required for them to work properly. So, when it comes to choosing the right system, you will need to conduct an analysis of your property and narrow down your options. The process might be overwhelming but make sure you consult an expert for septic system installation Jefferson County.

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