What Are the Different Types of Septic Systems?

When it’s time to install or replace a septic system, there a few things to keep in mind. For starters, you’ll need to find the best spot for your drainfield, which can’t be near bushes or trees. You’ll also have to remember to get regular septic pumping, even if it’s working well.

But before the installation process can start, you’ll need to know the best type of septic system for your property. This is especially important if your property has unique conditions that affect proper wastewater disposal. After all, if your septic system isn’t designed to work with your environment, you’ll end up with a very expensive problem.

The different types of septic systems fall under two categories: conventional systems and alternative systems. And when it comes to alternative systems, there are more than 20 types to choose from.

Read on for a brief rundown on your options.



A conventional system is also known as a basic or standard system. The process starts in the septic tank, which holds wastewater from your home. Over time, the wastewater separates into layers. The solids sink to the bottom, where naturally-occurring bacteria break it down. Meanwhile, the lighter solids and grease float to the top of the tank.

The middle layer consists of partially treated wastewater. As gravity (or pumps) pushes it out of the tank, it flows into the drainfield, or the leach field. The drainfield is made of underground pipes that are surrounded by permeable soil or gravel. It also has bacteria that removes impurities by digesting organic materials.

You can’t go wrong with a conventional septic system. But if your property doesn’t have the right conditions, you might need an alternative septic system.



Sometimes, an area might not be suitable for a conventional system. For example, a high water table can disrupt proper drainage. Some soil types or depths aren’t appropriate of conventional systems as well. In these scenarios, an alternative system is ideal.

Like conventional systems, alternative septic systems use septic tanks. The difference is in the way alternative systems properly handle wastewater.

Here are a few examples of alternative septic systems:


Intermittent Sand Filter System

If an area doesn’t have enough soil to treat wastewater, a sand filter system can help. In this system, wastewater passes through a sand filter before it’s dispersed in the soil.


Recirculating Sand Filter System

A loop can be added to a sand filter system. Before wastewater leaves the tank, it recirculates and passes through the sand filter twice.


Mound Septic System

If there’s an issue with soil depth or type, the drain field can be installed above ground level. This is called the mound. It’s made of a sand fill with a gravel-filled bed and pipes.


Evapotranspiration Septic System

This system disposes wastewater through evaporation. Specifically, it evaporates through nearby grass, plants, and sand. It’s only recommended for dry environments that get less than 24” of rainfall each year.


Aerobic Treatment Unit

An aerobic treatment unit uses oxygen to break down organic waste. Compared to standard systems, the process is faster, and the discharged water is cleaner. This system is also less likely to develop septic problems.


Low-Pressure Pipe Septic Systems

If your property has slightly shallow soil, you may be able to use a low-pressure pipe (LPP) system. It’s like a standard system. However, it has a pumping chamber — also known as a dosing chamber — between the tank and drainfield. Twice a day, the LPP will push wastewater through the chamber and to the drainfield.



This list includes just a couple examples of alternative systems. After all, there are so many different types of septic systems to pick from! Understandably, the selection process can get quite overwhelming.

You’re not in this alone, though. At Paradise Valley Septic, our experienced septic providers know how to select the best septic system for your home. We’ll also examine your property, soil, and any potential constraints before the septic drilling begins.

From there, our team can take all of your septic maintenance needs over the years. This way, you can be sure that your new system lasts for years.

Have questions? Feel free to contact us at (480) 607-7763.


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