Pumping Life Into Septic Tank

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Pumping Life Into Septic Tank

Company’s product adds oxygen to extend system’s existence
By Kathleen Gallagher of the Journal Sentinel

Thoughts of gurgling toilets, sewage backup and foul-smelling liquid saturating the lawn flashed across Karl Holt’s mind when he realized his septic tank was nearly full. It was potentially a very dirty problem, but Holt said he didn’t like the available remedies.Pumping the tank is a short-term solution and additives can hurt more than they help, he reasoned. Replacing the system would cost a minimum of $15,000 not including re-seeding the lawn and replacing the deck. “I was looking to save that $15,000,” said Holt, 45, president of Aero-Stream LLC in Hartland. So he began tinkering.The result is a patented product that sells for less than $1,000 that Holt says homeowners can use to revive failed septic systems and avoid more expensive alternatives. “One of the difficult things about this business is you have to educate people,” Holt said. “They won’t think twice about putting a coat of paint on the house or getting an oil change every 3,000 miles, but they just want to flush their toilet and not think about their septic tank.”

Janet Vance was one of those people, until the septic system at her second home in Kentucky failed. “We couldn’t do laundry and we flushed once a day. It was pretty much a goner, ” Vance said.

Ken Adamec, manufacturing manager at Aero-Stream® LLC, uses a drill press at the company’s factory, where the Remediator oxygen-injecting system is built. Posted: Nov. 21, 2008
She did extensive research and found Aero-Stream® on the Internet. Holt’s solution seemed too good to be true, and Vance said her husband and other family members discouraged her from pursuing it. It seemed worth a try, though, and Holt offers a refund if customers aren’t satisfied at the end of a year, she said. It worked, and now the water in the septic tank is clear with no odor, Vance said.Aero-Stream®’s product, called a Remediator, transforms a septic system into one that is filled with oxygen-loving bacteria instead of less efficient, oxygen-hating bacteria, Holt said.
Karl Holt is president of Aero-Stream® LLC, a Hartland company that sells a patented product for making septic systems more efficient. Holt says his product helps homeowners avoid having to replace failed septic systems.
Users plug the Remediator into an outside electrical outlet, he said. Call it aerobic exercise for a septic system; the Remediator pumps oxygen into the tank through a hole customers drill in its cover. Holt says that destroys within 48 hours the oxygen-hating bacteria in the tank that have been eating the waste and encourages the growth of oxygen-loving bacteria.Oxygen-rich liquid begins to flow out of the tank into the leach field. The oxygen-loving bacteria are so much more efficient at gobbling up waste they cut off the oxygen-hating bacteria’s food source by 70% to 80%, Holt said. They also eat the black slimy mix of oxygen-hating bacteria and their secretions that have been clogging the soil, and treated water starts flowing again down into the water table.

Many people, even in the industry, do not understand the mechanics of the process and therefore find it difficult to comprehend the simple solution,” Holt said.Professional doubt

The way Holt’s product works is theoretically possible, but experts who aren’t familiar with it wonder how the Remediator can get enough oxygen into the leach field to fix the problem quickly. Can it really unclog a drainfield, given all the organic matter that stops water from flowing through it in a failing septic system, asked Brian Holmes, a professor of biological systems engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It would seem more promising if the oxygen were being delivered directly to the field, said Rick Reichardt, an environmental engineer with the state Department of Natural Resources.

Holt says once it’s aerated, the liquid – known as effluent – flows fairly quickly out of the tank to help get rid of oxygen-hating bacteria. Soggy lawns with surface ponding will lose their odor within two weeks, and dry out in six to eight weeks, he said.

Ten reviews of Aero-Stream’s product on www.ratepoint.com are all positive, as is Linda Paun, owner of the Merton Custard Shoppe.

Cut her costs

Paun says she wouldn’t have been able to build her restaurant if she’d had to install the as-much-as $75,000 system Waukesha County initially wanted instead of the nonindustrial system she installed that uses two Remediators. “I don’t know where Karl comes up with all these ideas, and I don’t know how he figures out how to design and build them, but it works,” Paun said.

Holt has a mechanical engineering degree from Milwaukee School of Engineering, and he’s done product development at Harley-Davidson Inc., Strattec Security Corp. and other companies.Holt says he’s also made a Zamboni out of a garden tractor to shovel an ice rink on the lake near his home, and made progress developing an electric drive system for pontoon boats. The simpler, the better is his motto, he said.

Aero-Stream is distributing the Remediator across North America, including Canada, which now provides about 20% of sales, Holt said. Aero-Stream has five employees and is producing revenue, said Greg Reuter, an accountant at EWH Small Business Accounting in Waukesha, which does the company’s accounting work. “If he can hit the right marketing streams, I think it’s got unlimited potential basically because he’s looking at anyone who isn’t hooked up to a city sewage system, ” Reuter said.