Alternative Septic System Maintenance 101

Alternative Septic System Maintenance 101

Published on May 17 , 2019


 Did You Know?

Virginia Health Department Law Requires homeowners with an alternative septic system to maintain an annual contract with a licensed AOSSO provider



What Is an Alternative Septic System?

There are two types of septic systems: A CONVENTIONAL septic system, and an ALTERNATIVE treatment septic system.Traditional Septic System 

An ALTERNATIVE septic system is a system that is different from the common traditional style septic system. An ALTERNATIVE system is required when the site and soil conditions on a property are limiting, or when the wastewater strength is too strong for the receiving environment (i.e. commercial waste, restaurants). 

Alternative systems “clean” the wastewater (reducing the organic load, nutrients , and pathogens) before dispersal to the receiving environment and thus require less drainfield area. In other words, the drainfields are smaller and the standoffs to water table and soil restrictions are reduced. 

With conventional systems, the soil is “cleaning” the wastewater just as much as the septic tank. With alternative systems, most of the “cleaning” is taking place in the advanced treatment unit, which is a tank or container with a blower and/or filtering media.


All Septic Systems Require Maintenance

Alternative systems require more intensive and frequent maintenance because they are complex systems.  More equipment, different processes.  They are sufficiently complex systems in a sensitive environment.  Improperly functioning alternative systems affect public health and welfare.  The risk of failure is high if they are not properly maintained. 

There are many Alternative Systems out there. Here is a list of the most frequently installed systems in our area.

Routine maintenance by a licensed operator (or service provider) optimizes treatment and dispersal, reduces the likelihood of costly repairs, and protects the environment (surface water and ground water).  The Virginia Department of Health has performance requirements for alternative systems. The owner must follow the system’s Operation and Maintenance Manual, and have the system inspected by a licensed operator at least annually.


What Is an Alternative Septic System Contract?

Typical home with alternative septic system
A contract for an alternative septic system is an annually signed contract between the septic system owner and a licensed system maintenance professional. The licensed professional routinely cares for your system based upon manufacturers specifications.

A Contract from Stamie E. Lyttle Co. entitles you to:

  • Automatic scheduling reminders - we will call you at the time of renewal to confirm our visit
  • Immediate copy of a Field Maintenance Report
  • Report submission to comply with the Virginia Department of Health
  • Emergency response if needed


Find out more about our Maintenance Program










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