Typical home sewage grinder pump Stop Septic Grinder & Sewage Ejector Pump Odors

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Sewage grinder pump / sewage ejector pump or sump pump odor diagnosis & cure:

How to diagnose & cure sewer smells at septic or sump pumps. How to find and fix the source of smells coming from a sump pump it, effluent pump system, or sewage grinder or sewage ejector pump installation.

This article series gives installation and maintenance advice for Sump Pumps, Sewage Ejector Pumps, Septic Grinder Pumps, Sewage Pumping Stations, & Septic Pump Alarms. We discuss sewage grinder pump types, sizes, voltages, horsepower, installation and maintenance.

We also provide a MASTER INDEX to this topic, or you can try the page top or bottom SEARCH BOX as a quick way to find information you need.

Sewage grinder pump leaks & odor complaints

Photo of a common sewage ejector pump used in a modern basementWhat to check when troubleshooting odors or smells from a sump pit, effluent pump, or sewage ejector pump system:

The following advice is excerpted from SEPTIC / SEWER ODOR SOURCE TABLE. See that more complete article if you are having trouble tracking down the source of sewage or septic smells at or around a building.

Question: septic pump grinder pump smell complaints & advice

(Feb 18, 2015) said:
We have two septic pumps in our building. One is for a small break room and the other services two large bathrooms. We have a terrible smell coming from a larger septic grinder pump and I was concerned about what chemicals I can pour down the drain to eliminate the smell. I know bleach reacts with ammonia creating a toxic gas so I didn't want to put anyone at harm. Is there anything I can do to prevent this odor? It does have a large 4" vent that goes straight to the roof and we sealed all the cover plates and holes with silicone sealant but the smell is still strong and leaks into our hallways where customers come through. What can I do?


Mike, rather than pouring chemicals I'd look for the problem source to find a more long lasting and safer solution. A venting system defect, missing check valve, or a leak, for example, may be at fault.

Question: Use of chemical treatments to control odors at a Zoeller sump pit ?

6 June 2016 Pete Beck said:

I have 1/3 HP Zoeller sump pump. Can I use a chemical like the ones used to keep black water odor under control in travel trailers and motor homes,,to keep my sump pit from smelling, w/out damaging the pump...Thanks in advance for you help....Pete


Pete, you don't indicate which Zoeller pump you have instaalled, nor am I sure (since you use the term "sump pump") if we are discussing a de-watering sump pump installation or a sewage (blackwater) ejector pump.

I'm guessing the latter since you refer to "black water odor". In that case odors shouldn't be coming out of your pump system. For **example**, referring to Zoeller's Instruction Manual for the company's effluent/sump/de-watering pump (notice this is not a sewage grinder pump), for a wide range of Zoeller pump models (( Zoeller Pump Model 55 / 59, 70, 73, 75, 139 Series, 140 / 4140, 145 / 4145, 160 / 4160 Series, 180 / 4180, 191, 371, 372, 373 Series effluent & de-waatering pumps as well as Zoeller pump models 211, 212 Series, 270 / 4270 Series, 280 / 4280, 290 / 4290 Series sewage pumps (again these are not grinder pumps),)) available from the company's online literature library, you'll read that to control odors the company cites two features:

  1. Gas-tight seals are required to contain gases and odors.
  2. Vent gases and odors to the atmosphere through vent pipe.

So I'd start by checking those features of your installation. If, for example, your system uses a loose cover that's a very common and correctable source of sewage smells.

Use of chemical additives and treatments, depending on the chemical, might not harm the pump but shouldn't be necessary. And harsh or caustic chemicals may also damage the pump. Zoeller includes this warning in the service checklist for the example manual we cite:

Abrasive material and adverse chemicals could possibly deteriorate impeller and pump housing

You don't say if you're connected to a private septic or public sewer - beware of dumping treatments in volume into a septic system. Search InspectApedia for SEPTIC TREATMENTS & CHEMICALS for details.

If you don't have the manual for your Zoeller pump, contact the company at the address we give below.

Watch out: tracking down the source of sewer gas odors or septic smells can be tricky. At a recent inspection looking into a complaint of sewer odors in the kitchen of an older home, with the homeowner we ultimately traced the odor source to dry traps in floor drains in the basement below.

Sewer gas odor traced to dry floor drain connected to sewer line (C) Daniel Friedman

This pump manual pertains to the following pumps in the applications recommended by Zoeller:

Recommended Zoeller Pump Models by Application

Effluent 1 / Sump / De-Watering Pump Models Sewage Ejector Pump Models Comments
Zoeller 55 / 59, 70, 73, 75, 139 Series Zoeller 211, 212 Series  
Zoeller 140 / 4140, 145 / 4145, 160 / 4160 Series Zoeller 270 / 4270 Series  
Zoeller 180 / 4180, 191, 371, 372, 373 Series Zoeller 280 / 4280, 290 / 4290 Series  

Zoeller's notes include:

1 Effluent systems should specify that pumps should not handle solids exceeding 3/4” in order to prevent large solids from entering leeching fields, mound systems, etc. (70 Series have 3/8” solids capability. 50, 140/4140, 371 and 372 Series have ½”, 130 Series has 5/8”, 145/4145, 160/4160, 180/4180 and 373 models have 3/4”.)

Where code permits, sewage pumps can be used for effluent systems. Non-automatic pumps with external-level controls are recommended for septic tank effluent applications

Watch out: note that the company explains that you may use a sewge pump for effluent systems - that is, for pumping clarified septic effluent up to an absorption bed, soakbed, or drainfield or leaching bed. The converse is not true, that is, you should not use a pump intended for effluent or de-watering to try to pump raw sewage. It will clog and fail.

Watch out: to reduce the risk of clogging and also pump seal failures, a vent hole and check valve may be required in your installation.


Watch out: proper electrical wiring, including proper electrical grounding and ground fault protection are necessary for liquid handling pumps such as these in order to reduce the risk of fatal electrical shock.

Adapted from

For help tracking down and fixing sewer gas or septic odors in or at buildings start at ODORS, SEPTIC or SEWER - home

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Septic Pump / Sewage Grinder Pump Articles


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Publisher - Daniel Friedman