Sewage pumpSewage Ejector Pumps & Septic Pumps, Inspection & Maintenance Guide
     


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Septic pumps & grinder pumps:

How to inspect sewage grinder pumps or septic pump installations for proper installation, operation, and testing.

This article gives inspection and maintenance advice for Sump Pumps, Sewage Ejector Pumps, Septic Grinder Pumps, Sewage Pumping Stations, & Septic Pump Alarms.

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Guide to Sewage Ejector Pump Inspection

Sewage inspection detail 2The general name for sewage pumps pumps is sewage grinder pumps if they are intended to grind and move black water or sewage (including solid wastes), or sewage effluent pumps if the pump is intended only to move clarified effluent, say from a septic tank to a drain field.

Some of the common sewage grinder or septic pump brands include ABS pumps, Crane (centrifugal grinders) pumps, Environment One or E/One sewage pumps, Goulds pumps, Hydromatic pumps, Liberty sewage pumps, Little Giant pumps, Myers pumps, Tsurumi pumps, Webtrol sewage pumps, and Zoeller sewage grinder pumps. Several sewage pump manufacturers produce a separate line of commercial or municipal sewage grinder pumps from those used in residential application.

Sketches are from the Environment One Low Pressure Sewer Systems Grinder Pump catalog.

What you see at a building site may indicate a history of problems: The pumps at page top may have been a misapplication for this municipal lift station ,which may explain why we found these discarded units on the site. Septic pump systems vary by these parameters:

Is the proper pump installed? Septic pump manufacturers provide a pump selection and sizing table that is used to guide the installer in selecting the proper pump. We've seen sewage handling systems where the wrong type or wrong capacity of pump was installed, sometimes as an attempt to "save money."

Are modifications to the septic pump system visible ? What do they mean?

Sewage pump inspection detail Sewage inspection detail 2

The septic grinder pump at left has had a hole cut at floor level to permit other basement leakage to enter the pumping chamber to be pumped away.

Of course any sewage backup will flow back out of this hole into the room, and might prevent the pump alarm from functioning - but then is there a pump alarm installed? From the number of wires entering the tank, probably not.

Also we see no check valve (see photo at right, brass valve on the left hand vertical outlet pipe). Also the wiring connections entering the tank are held in place with gray-painted-over masking tape - not particularly reliable.

Guide to Sewage Ejector Pump Maintenance

Inspect the sewage grinder tank for the following:

  • Accessibility to the tank and pump for inspection, pump replacement, or repairs

  • Venting: Presence of adequate tank venting. Openings in the tank itself may discharge odors, dangerous sewer gases, or even bacteria and sewage backup into the room. If a vent is omitted, when the pump is running it will create an unwanted vacuum in the sewage reservoir.

  • Presence of each of the components shown in the sketch above

  • Evidence of leaks, exposed wires, unprotected openings into the tank

  • Evidence of backups or overflows which may show recent failures

  • Pump operation: turn on a nearby plumbing fixture to fill the reservoir tank, observe the pump operation, turning on and off normally

  • Damaged ejector/grinder pump reservoir or basin: the fiberglass or plastic container should be intact, with no cracks, breaks, improper holes, or other damage. Some basins are made of cast iron and use a cast iron lid. The lid should fit securely, be of the proper material, and not be leaking.

  • A check valve on the discharge line is needed at the discharge line (as we show in the right hand photo above). Unless a check valve is installed, when the septic pump motor turns off you'll hear a large volume of water running backwards into the pumping chamber from the discharge line, causing the pump to turn on again too soon or even to cycle continuously; the check valve also assures that a sewer main does not back up into a building and flood it through the sewage ejector pump system.

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