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What is a vacuum sewer system and how does it work?

How does a vacuum sewer system work?

What is a vacuum sewer system and how does it work?

A vacuum sewer system is an ecological alternative to areas where failing septic tanks are causing pollution or where traditional gravity sewer systems are aging. They specifically work well in areas with subsurface difficulties. (For example: high groundwater tables, sandy and unstable soils, rocky terrain, restricted construction conditions, acid sulfate soils (A.S.S), or sensitive eco-systems.)

With a vacuum sewer system, vacuum pumps maintain continuous vacuum pressure on the system. In addition, there are vacuum valves located at each sewage input point that seals the system. When these valves are activated, differential pressure propels the wastewater through the piping to the vacuum station.

As an illustration, imagine sucking on a straw filled with water and your finger is covering the end of the straw.  When you remove your finger, the water shoots into your mouth. Vacuum sewer systems work in a similar fashion. In this scenario, your mouth is acting as the vacuum station and your finger is acting as the vacuum valve.

Another key point. Because there is constant vacuum pressure on the system, wastewater never leaks into the ground.  Although rare, if a pipe should get punctured or cracked, the vacuum will continue to “suck in” instead of “leak out”. For this reason, vacuum sewer systems are significantly better for the environment.

See the step-by-step guide below that explains how a vacuum sewer system works.

How does a vacuum sewer system work?

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