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SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES
SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN BASICS
SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
SEPTIC SYSTEM SAFETY WARNINGS
SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TRAPS on PLUMBING FIXTURES
TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS, SEPTIC
VIDEO GUIDES: Septic Videos
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS
WATER SOFTENERS & CONDITIONERS
WATER SUPPLY & DRAIN PIPING
WASTEWATER TREATMENT BASICS
WATER, WELLS, WATER TANKS: TESTING GUIDE
WINTERIZE A BUILDING
This article explains the differences between Septic System Pumps (SEPTIC SYSTEM PUMPS) and Sump Pumps (SUMP PUMPS) , Sewage Ejector Pumps, Septic Grinder Pumps, Sewage Pumping Stations, & Septic Pump Alarms. Advice is given for septic tank effluent or sewage pump selection and use. Septic pumps used for pumping air in aeration systems and septic pumps used to move effluent in a drip dispersion system are discussed under the appropriate septic system type which are outlined at SEPTIC SYSTEM DESIGN ALTERNATIVES.
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Definition of Sump pumps, which we discuss on this page, are designed to remove unwanted water, such as surface or ground water that leak into a building. Sump pumps only have to pump water, never solids.
A sump pump is normally installed in a pit at the low end of a basement or crawl space floor.
In a bad building water entry situation water runs across the basement/crawl space floor into the sump pit where it is pumped away (after already wetting the building and inviting a mold contamination problem). This condition pertains when water is entering a building through foundation walls, often because the roof drainage or surface runoff are directed right against the building foundation itself.
Keeping gutters and leaders working and correcting outside drainage errors are critical in keeping water out of a building. Doesn't it make more sense to prevent water from coming into a building than to let it in and then pump it out?
In a good situation, openings in the sides and bottom of the sump pit, or an under-floor drainage system direct subsurface water into the sump pit before the ground water level rises enough to send water into the building.
Over several years of operation, and partly by pumping a little soil silt as it operates, a sump pump may actually improve the flow of under-floor water into the sump pit, thus reducing building water entry.
What is a Septic Pump, Sewage Pump, or Grinder Pump? Definitions of the Types of Septic Pumps & Grinder Pumps
Sewage ejector pump installation and maintenance are discussed in detail at SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
Septic effluent pumps are used to move clarified septic effluent out of a pumping chamber to a drainfield. Septic effluent pumps do not have to move solids, but are built to standards of durability and duty cycle more demanding than a typical sump pump used to remove ground water from a building.
Typical examples of applications where septic effluent pumps are used include raised bed, mound, or sand-bed filtration septic systems in which the absorption bed is located higher than the septic tank. In these installations septic effluent is pumped from a final chamber in the septic tank or from a second effluent chamber up to the absorption system.
Watch out: Pump manufacturers may show that the same pump models can serve as a sump pump, effluent pump, and de-watering pump. But that is not universally the case - in other words, there are some sump pumps that work just fine as effluent pumps, but other sump pump models (such as low-cost sump pumps using a vertical float and rod switch and intended for indoor de-watering in basements) may not be suitable for septic effluent pumping and may not be designed to be used in a septic effluent tank or drywell.
In a pinch we've seen people use SUMP PUMPS for septic tank effluent pumping but that is not a durable nor a recommended solution.
Be Sure to Select the Proper Septic or Sump Pump Type
Watch out for the following conditions that cause clogging and even burnup of various types of sewage pumps, grinder pumps, ejector pumps, and septic pumps:
Don't Flush These Items Down the Toilet - They Clog or Burn Up the Grinder Pump
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Septic Pumps & Sewage Ejector Pumps
Question: sewage sump pump odor control
What can be poured into the comode, to go through the ejector pump or grinder pump, to eliminate smell? This is in a basement and pumps up to the tank system. - Don Votaw
Don, Cloroben and other manufacturers produce drain cleaning liquids that are enzymes that should not harm a septic system. But I'd expect the smell to return as the system is used. Better to find the exact odor source and fix that - assuring good plumbing venting, no leaks at toilets or equipment, etc.
Question: What to do about a grinder pump that keeps getting clogged with string, cigarette butts, etc.
Having a problem with grinding pump constantly getting bound with string, butts etc. Is there a pump that can handle grinding most material, or would we be better off with just a pump We only have a 1" discharge line. - Anon
Anon: in the text above and also at TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST we advise against ever flushing cigarette butts, dental floss, or string down building drains, precisely because, as you report, they can clog and even burn up sewage pumps by entering and binding the impeller assembly.
Question: Where to find a wiring diagram for a sewage pump
I've been looking for hours (really) to find a wire diagram of the pump to alarm. I've tried msn, I've tried Google and some sites say they do have it...but when you go there, they don't. How hard can this be? I've tried to find a video, a drawing and just electrical to no avail. - Stumpman
Stumpman The wiring diagram for septic pump alarms are surely included with the alarm itself. Basically, when the pump fails to run when it should, the rising effluent level in the pump trips an alarm sound and light. If you give me the brand of your septic alarm device I'll research this and get details for you.
Question: Sump pump float replacement vs pump replacement?
If the float goes, and needs replacing, does the pump require replacing too? I have a yes from one company and a no from another - thanks. - AssocHomeowner
Reply: list of sources for replacement sewer or sump pump float switches and submersible floats
The float switch assembly on at least some sewage ejector pumps is a replaceable part. Check the installation manual for your sewage grinder pump and you'll see part numbers to order an exact replacement, though generic switches are also available. If you can't find that information, tell us the brand of your pump and we'll research it for you.
Watch out: there may be some pump models whose water-tight assembly does not encourage replacement of the float switch. The problem is that the electrical components have to be absolutely water-tight to avoid electrocution hazards.
But even in the case of an integral float switch that cannot be repaired without breaking the water-tight seal on the pump assembly, it may be possible to simply tie off the old floats to keep them out of the way (avoiding fouling or tangling the replacement floats), followed by installation of an independent float switch control assembly. Independent float switches include a submersible float switch that is inserted into the pumping chamber, along with an electrical connector that plugs in above ground between the existing pump electrical power connection and the power source. So no electrical connections are exposed to wet conditions.
Question: Check valve on sewage ejector pump?
In my basement bathroom my sewage injector pumps come on every 15-30 minutes. I have a check valve on the discharge side. Is the check valve leaking back? causing the injector pump to come ? The pump is less than a year old. - Tyuan Rice
Reply: Sewage ejector pumps and check valves
Septic pumps, sewage pumps, or sewage ejector pumps, which we discuss in detail beginning at SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS, are designed to remove sewage from a building where plumbing fixtures and their drains are lower than the building sewer line and/or septic tank.
Question: Pumping frequency for effluent holding chambers at a pumping station
How often do you recommend pumping out the tank where an effluent pump is located? Our neighborhood has a shared leach field. Each house has a septic tank, and the gray water goes to pump stations and from there to the leach field. We're creating an association and any advice as to maintenance schedules, etc. is greatly appreciated. Thank you! - Deb Loomis
Most likely that will indicate that you will be able to extend the effluent holding tank pumping frequency to a longer interval. But in sum, I'd base it on experience not on a table, and I'd be sure that someone is monitoring the maintenance of the individual feeding-septic tanks. One broken septic tank baffle could send a large volume of solids into the pumping chamber and thence it would damage the drainfield.
Question: do we need a septic tank ahead of the lift station?
We are installing a simplex sewage ejection station in a new house. The town has asked us to install a 1000 gal septic tank before the lift station. Is this a recommended step? It seems redundant and unnecessary. - Nick P.
You need to discuss their reasoning with your town officials - find out what the worry is. If it's the need for a buffering tank, the solution where a grinder pump is installed probably lies in the specification of the size of the main pumping chamber, not the requirement to install a septic tank ahead of the pumping lift station. After all, once installed, the septic tank will remain always full anyway. It wouldn't do a thing for you except add maintenance costs.
Question: We added a septic pump when adding a basement bathroom - how can we avoid using the pump?
We used to have a natural gravity flow to the septic system until we added a bathroom in the basement which required a septic pump (but everyone around here always call it a sump pump). Want to go back to the gravity flow method and would like to know if there is a way to also keep the pump system that could be only turned on when/if needed. Is it possible to incorporate a dual system? - T. Head
Reply: how sewage grinder pumps work; what's the difference between a sewage pump and a sump pump?
Most often the addition of a sewage ejector pump to allow installation of a basement bath becomes necessary because the bathroom floor is lower than the existing sewer line. The pump has to lift only the waste from the new bathroom - up to the existing sewer line where it then flows by gravity out to the existing septic tank or sewer system.
You don't want to put a manual switch on your basement bath's sewage pump - the pump will run only when that bathroom is used.
By the way, while people may speak carelessly about what these pumps are called, the proper term is sewage pump, sewerage pump, sewage ejector pump, or grinder pump. These pumps all include a grinder that macerates solid waste so that it can flow up through smaller-diameter piping to a point where it empties into the main building drain.
A sump pump is designed only to pump water, such as ground water, or graywater from a laundry sink. If your plumber installs a sump pump into a pit handling solid waste, it won't last long at all - it's the wrong pump.
Question: dog and daughter fell into sump pit; dog died.
I recently moved in a house with this nasty hole in the basement.the first night my dog fell in and my daughter fell in the get the dog.2 hrs later the poor dog died but my daughter in ok.what can be put over this sump pump hole firmly so this does not happen again? I am devastated for my dog but what if it was my 3yr ..my landlord was uncaring can you help! - T.C.
[A photo of the sump pit was subsequently provided by the reader - shown at left]
Reply: consult your doctor, inform your landlord in writing, look for other unsafe conditions
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional information that can help understand just what the hazards are in your home, not just around the sump pit. Your email raises these concerns in my mind:
While the topic is different, our advice to renters who encounter mold contamination at a property includes the importance of making sure that the building owner and manager know, in writing, of your concerns. Details are at RENTERS & TENANTS GUIDE TO MOLD
Please keep me posted on how things progress, and send along photos of the sump hole if you can. Such added details can help us understand what's happening and often permit some useful further comment. What we both learn may help me help someone else.
Hello, these are the pics i have. And i have no idea what kind of pump it is.help me please.im scared for my kids.also little fly nat bugs are coming from it.
It also looks as if in most of the photos a sump pit cover was in place - so it would be useful to know if the cover has just been added, or was it left off, or how else did your daughter and pet fall into the pit?
From your photo [see covered sump pup pit photo above] it looks as if the pump and controls are so high in the sump pit that the cover, perhaps a home-made one, includes a large opening in its top through which a child or pet could step.
Also, one of your photos [photo of open sump pit shown at left] shows the sump pit with the cover off - and the water in your photo (it's a bit blurry picture) looks sudsy. If the building dumps a laundry sink or washer into the pit and is then pumping that washer drainage to the ground surface outside, that'd most likely be a health and plumbing code violation.
Finally, it also looks as if the floor is broken up around the sump pit, perhaps to improve water entry into the pit from the floor surface? Is that uneven surface also a trip hazard.
Meanwhile, make sure the sump cover is secure and block off access to this corner to protect your family from trip and fall hazards.
Question: what are the common causes for a pump alarm to go off
What are the most common causes a pump tank alarm would go off? My grinder pump is only 4 yrs old and we are still building, so it does not get that much use. C.S. 8/5/12
A competent onsite inspection by an expert usually finds additional clues that help accurately diagnose a problem with a sewage pump such as a defective check valve or a running toilet that keeps filling the reservoir tank. That said, the alarm sounds when the level in the reservoir reaches a level that means that the primary pump is not working, or in a single pump system, that no pump is working.
So in addition to checking for a running toilet and bad check valve, check that the float switch is properly installed.
Details about sewage and septic pump alarms (and a copy of this Q&A) are found at at Septic Pump Alarm Systems
Question: Short cycling lift station pump: Warrick 67 intrinsic safe 2 pump controller
Hello and thank you for your help. We have a lift station with a lead and lag pump. Pump one is short cycling and I don't know why! We have a new Warrick 67 intrinsic safe 2 pump controller. The controller test out fine how ever when we leave both pumps in auto when pump it's pump ones turn it short cycles. Why? We also think we have a float issue and we are in the process of getting a new one for the well.
Originally I got a call saying the pump went air borne because pump one never shut off. We put a temp float in and new controller which was bad and still not fixed. Where do I go from here. We even verified the float wires all the way back to the controller. Please help direct my next move. Thank you very much. Dan :-) 8/7/12
I am guessing that your control panel is http://www.gemssensors.com/Products/Level/Warrick/Kits-panels-alarms/Control-Panels/CP-67
With a duplex pump system. And chances are you already have the manual.
What I can't accurately guess is if we're looking at
At this point I'd call Warrick for smarter help than I can offer. Warrick can be called directly at 1-800-378-1600 - and as they know their controls best, that may be the smartest move.
Outside the US: 860-747-3000
Their website is www.warrick.com or apparently also Gems Sensors Inc. One Cowles Road Plainville, CT 06062 (860)793-4579 FAX(860)793-4580
As the Warrick site auto-forwards to www.gemssensors.com
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