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KompareIt > Home & Garden > Plumbing > Aerobic vs Anaerobic Septic Systems

Compare Aerobic vs Anaerobic Septic System Costs

Summary: Aerobic vs Anaerobic Septic System Average Prices

Aerobic septic systems have an average cost between $10,000 and $20,000, as they are fairly complicated systems. The simpler anaerobic septic system has an average cost between $2,000 and $5,000.

Compare Aerobic vs Anaerobic Septic Systems

In This Article

  1. Example Septic System Prices Paid
  2. Aerobic Septic System Costs
  3. Anaerobic Septic System Costs
  4. Labor Costs
  5. Aerobic Septic System Pros
  6. Aerobic Septic System Cons
  7. Anaerobic Septic System Pros
  8. Anaerobic Septic System Cons
  9. Choosing a Septic System
  10. Choosing a Contractor
  11. Free Septic System Quotes >>

Below are some example septic system installation prices by location:

City or State Zip Code Average Price Paid
Boston, MA 02108 $7,026
New York City 10001 $4,740
Philadelphia, PA 19019 $11,647
Massachusetts Statewide $6,387
North Carolina Statewide $3,511
New Hampshire Statewide $9,325

*Source: Homeadvisor.com users

Aerobic Septic System Costs

Aerobic septic systems require aerobic bacteria (bacteria that likes oxygen) as well as an air pump to aerate the septic tank and promote waste break down. Though costs vary depending on the size of the system, soil conditions, and your location, aerobic setups are more complicated than their anaerobic counterparts and come at a higher price.

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  • Site evaluations and permits have an average cost between $200 and $400.
  • An aerobic septic system has an average cost between $10,000 and $20,000.
  • You need to have the system professionally inspected and pumped every one to three years, which has an average cost of $200.
  • Aerobic systems may need motor & timer replacements from time to time. Motor replacements have an average cost between $500 & $600 and timers average $100.
Aerobic Septic System Costs

Anaerobic Septic System Costs

Anaerobic septic systems rely on anaerobic bacteria (bacteria that dislikes oxygen) to break down waste material. Costs for these systems vary based on size, your location, and soil conditions.

  • Most areas require a permit to install a septic system, which has an average cost between $250 and $1,000 depending on your location.
  • An anaerobic septic system has an average cost between $2,000 and $5,000. However, areas with higher labor rates and material costs may see prices rise to between $4,000 and $15,000.
  • Septic tanks themselves have an average cost between $500 and $1,800 depending on the size of the tank.
  • Piping and related materials have an average cost between $100 and $200.
  • The system will need to be inspected every one to three years, which has an average cost between $200 and $600. Pumping comes in at an average between $200 and $400.
Anaerobic Septic System Costs

Labor Costs to Install a Septic System

Installation costs for installing septic systems are often as much as the system itself, if not higher.

You may be tempted to install the system yourself to avoid these costs, but working with a professional is the best way to ensure the job is done right. Tanks that are not properly installed lead to leaking and water pollution, which can cause extensive damage and costly repairs.

As you look for an installer, keep in mind that cost should not be you only consideration. The lowest bid might be attractive price-wise, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's the best person for the job. Pay attention to experience, quality of work, and reputation before you think of costs. It is a good idea to ask others about their experience with an installer to get an idea of the job they will do for you.

Pros and Cons of Aerobic Septic Systems

Aerobic systems have three separate tanks. Waste enters the first one and settles into layers, then moves into the next tank (the treatment tank) where an aerator moves bubbles of oxygen through the waste. This is where the aerobic bacteria consumes the materials. It then moves to a pump tank for final treatment. There are benefits and drawbacks to aerobic septic systems.

Aerobic Septic System Pros

  • Design options: Aerobic septic systems offer a number of designs to allow for the best possible setup for your home.
  • Less pollution: In comparison to anaerobic systems, aerobic options cause less groundwater due to multiple treatments.
  • Size: Very little space is required for aerobic septic systems. There are even times when they are the only option because of available space.

Aerobic Septic System Cons

  • Cost: Aerobic systems come at a much higher price than anaerobic septic systems, costing two or three times more.
  • Maintenance: More maintenance is required for aerobic septic tanks in the long run. If the system if neglected, treatment quality drops. Failure to properly maintain a system may even lead to the entire unit failing.
  • Weather: The quality of treatment decreases if the temperature in an aerobic septic system falls too low.

Pros and Cons of Anaerobic Septic Systems

Simpler than their aerobic counterparts, anaerobic septic systems are comprised of a septic tank and two main pipes; one that goes to the house and one that goes into the yard. Several smaller pipes split from the main pipe, sitting just below the surface of the lawn. Waste settles in the tank and is eaten by anaerobic bacteria. Liquid waste floats to the top, moves to the smaller pipes under the surface of the soil, then filters out into the soil. There are advantages and disadvantages to these systems.

Anaerobic Septic System Pros

  • Availability: Anaerobic systems are more common and are typically more readily available that aerobic systems.
  • Cost: These systems come with a much lower price tag than aerobic ones, partly due to being much simpler.
  • Eco-friendly: Requiring no chemicals or power to clean the water, anaerobic septics are far better for the environment.

Anaerobic Septic System Cons

  • Pumping: Often, anaerobic systems require more pumping since they have fewer tanks.
  • Resale value: Many home buyers have not lived in homes with a septic tank, which can make it difficult if you try to sell your house.
  • Solid waste: Anaerobic septic tanks are more sensitive to solid waste, featuring only one tank and a pipe system.

Choosing a Septic System

The choice between aerobic and anaerobic septic systems usually comes down to personal preference. Ask yourself these questions:

  • What is my budget? - If you’re on a very limited budget, you’re probably better off going with a traditional anaerobic system.
  • What size is my lot? - For very small lots, you might have to shell out the extra money for an aerobic system.
  • How important is environmental impact? - If you’re someone who cares deeply about the environment, an aerobic system might be worth the extra cost because the wastewater it produces is much cleaner. If the environment is not a big priority for you, an anaerobic system might be your preference.
  • What are the local laws? - Does your city or town prohibit aerobic systems for residential properties? If so, the choice has been made for you.
  • Am I good at sticking to a maintenance schedule? - Aerobic systems may be more efficient and longer lasting, but those benefits can disappear if you don’t stick to a regular maintenance schedule. Aerobic systems require more attention than anaerobic systems, so think twice if you’re the type of person who forgets to get an oil change or make a dentist appointment on schedule.

Choosing a Contractor

A quick Google search should turn up plenty of septic contractors in your area. But not all are alike - you shouldn’t just pick one at random. Here are some tips:

  • Ask for references. If you have a septic system, chances are your neighbors do too. Find out who they used and if they were pleased with the service. Or, you can consult your local wastewater management office or similar entity.
  • Seek quotes from multiple contractors to compare prices, but don’t choose on price alone. Throw out any quotes that seem suspiciously high - or low.
  • Make sure any company you hire is licensed, bonded and insured. Ask for proof. If a company is bonded and never completes the job, you can make a claim against the bond to recover the money you’ve spent or have someone else finish the job for no additional fee. Insurance is important because otherwise you could be financially liable for accidents that occur on your property.

Author: Ashley Smith

References:

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