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SEPTIC SYSTEM INSPECT DIAGNOSE REPAIR
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SEPTIC SYSTEMS, HOME BUYERS GUIDE to
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SEWAGE & SEPTIC CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE BACKUP, WHAT TO DO
SEWAGE BACKUP TEST & CLEANUP
SEWAGE BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWAGE CONTAMINATION in buildings
SEWAGE CONTAMINANTS in FRUIT / VEGETABLES
SEWAGE EJECTOR / GRINDER PUMPS
SEWAGE LEVELS in SEPTIC TANKS
SEWAGE NITROGEN CONTAMINANTS
SEWAGE PATHOGENS in SEPTIC SLUDGE
SEWER BACKUP PREVENTION
SEWER GAS ODORS
SEWER LINE REPLACEMENT
SINKHOLES, WARNING SIGNS
SMELL PATCH TEST to Track Down Odors
SOAKAWAY BED FAILURE DIAGNOSIS
SULPHUR & SEWER GAS SMELL SOURCES
TOILETS, INSPECT, INSTALL, REPAIR
TOILETS, DON'T FLUSH LIST
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
Sewage & septic pump clog or failure diagnosis, repair, prevention guide: this article describes the causes of and steps to prevent clogging and/or damage to septic pumps, grinder pumps, and sewage ejector pumps. We also list septic and grinder pump types, brands, and will identify pumps that are resistant to damage from debris or objects that may enter the toilet, sewer line, or septic tank. This is part of our article series on sewage pumps that begins at SEPTIC SYSTEM PUMPS.
Green links show where you are. © Copyright 2013 InspectAPedia.com, All Rights Reserved. Author Daniel Friedman.
Don't Flush These Items Down the Toilet - They Clog or Burn Up the Grinder Pump
Question: why is my septic pump using too much electricity?
i don't like the idea of these sewer ejection pumps as they suck electricity, i feel my builder dug the foundation too deep and therefore stuck me with this annoyance on my new home. it seems to be not working right now after 8months i am an was not pleased to find out this had to be used as i was not told of it until it was put in already. sucks electricity and whatever else. - Dave
Reply: check your septic pump float controls and check pump motor current draw
Question: Our sewage ejector pump won't turn off - how do we fix it?
Our enjector sewage pump will not shut off even when there is nothing going into it - what do we do to fix this? Heather.
Reply: Check for and free up a stuck float switch or replace a failed ejector pump float control switch
Heather, sewage ejector pumps normally are operated by a float control switch. As wastewater rises in the holding tank when the level is high enough the float switch turns the pump on. The pump runs until the level of wastewater falls enough to cause the float to fall far enough for the switch to turn off the pump.
So if your sewage pump never turns off, presuming it's properly wired, the float switch is either stuck on debris in the holding tank, or the switch needs to be replaced.
The image at left shows the second very commonly-used type of float control switch, in this case using Zoeller™ pumps as an example. The red arrow indicates the actual float - on occasion a float may become waterlogged or simply disconnected from its mounting shaft. The green arrow in our sewer pump float switch example is the actual switch assembly that turns the motor on and off as the float, on its shaft, rises and falls vertically. Image source: plumbingsupply.com 
Take a look at the two most common sewage float switch types in our Little Giant™ sketch above and the Zoeller™ sewage pump and control switch image at left. Your switch probably looks like one of these two types.
In a few rare instances I have found homes at which the ejector pump float switch had failed and the owners, rather than replacing the switch, just hard-wired the pump to turn on and off by a manual switch. This is a bad idea for obvious reasons including inconvenience and the risk that either the pump is left on longer than necessary or left off leading to a sewage backup.
To diagnose the sewage pump control problem it's best to open an inspection port on the holding tank where the ejector pump is located. It may be possible to spot and remove a object clogging the float switch. Otherwise replacing the float switch is the next step.
Watch out: in addition to obvious bacterial hazards at sewage pumping stations there are methane gas hazards of explosion and asphyxiation - don't work alone. Also see our list above of things that can clog up or damage a sewage ejector pump.
Is your sewage ejector pump already damaged? Maybe not. Some sewage pump models indicate in the installation and maintenance manual that the pump can tolerate being run "dry". But best practice is to set the float control switch so that the liquid level does not drop below the pump body.
Other sewage grinder pump and ejector pump control switches are illustrated here.
See SEWAGE PUMPS for more guidance about buying, installing, and adjusting the controls on sewage grinder pumps and sewage ejector pumps.
Question: what is the white waxy stuff that caused my septic pump float swith to stick & clog up leading to failure of my septic pump?
What do you suppose was the large white waxy clumpy substance that I found recently in my septic pump container? The sticky substance was stuck to the sides of the tank (where it was several inches thick). It was also stuck all over the septic pump, and stuck all over the float switch....which of course was the problem and the reason for opening the tank. This accumulation happened over 2 years and 5 months.
We're not sure - you could send a sample to our forensic lab for free analysis. But a good guess is that your sewage ejector tank or septic tank that uses a septic pump was clogged by someone who used too much powdered detergents in a clothes washer or dishwasher.
It's well estblished that using excessive amounts of powdered detergent in a dishwasher or clothes washer can lead to accumulation of a gooey mess that clogs drains or even septic drainfields. Now hou have provided another important example: excessive detergent use OR using a budget detergent that contains large amounts of clay fillers can clog the pump float control switch or the pump intake in a sewage ejector pump or sewer pump as well.
We discuss detergent choices & recommendations to minimize drain and septic problems in two locations. Please see
WASHING MACHINES & SEPTIC SYSTEMS and also see Dishwasher & Laundry Detergents Containing Phosphates & Surfactants for a discussion of the effects of phosphates & detergents on the environment.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the causes of damage to septic grinder pumps or sewage pumps
Questions & answers or comments about septic pump problems, damage, diagnosis, repair
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Technical Reviewers & References
Related Topics, found near the top of this page suggest articles closely related to this one.
Composting Toilets - Books & References
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
Greywater System Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books