The 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?
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
Alarm system: if installed, check that the alarm operates if the pump pit level rises above normal (photo at above or left)
Pump opening cover: for safety the sump pumping basin must have a secure, child-proof cover in place; in some installations the cover must also be gas-tight.
Venting of the pumping chamber: Presence of adequate tank venting. Openings in the pumping chamber or 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 sewage grinder system components shown at SEPTIC PUMP INSTALLATION where we illustrate a complete pump installation
Evidence of leaks, exposed wires, unprotected openings into the pumping chamber or tank
Evidence of backups or overflows which may show recent failures: sewage or toilet paper scraps outside the pumping chamber, stains, water lines, odors, occupant reports
Seage grinder pump operation: turn on a nearby plumbing fixture to fill the reservoir tank, observe the pump operation, turning on and off normally
Clogged grinder pump impeller: clogging in the impeller (reduced discharge or in severe cases loss of pump output, motor trips on overload)
Clogged discharge line vent: required in the discharge line at height of top of pump where some check valves such as Zoeller Unicheck are installed. Normal: look for water discharge from this 3/16" opening when the pump is on and briefly at the end of pump-on cycle
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.
Debris in the pump basin: loose debris, wood, hair, string, etc. will clog and damage the pump.
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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Advanced Onsite Wastewater Systems Technologies, Anish R. Jantrania, Mark A. Gross. Anish Jantrania, Ph.D., P.E., M.B.A., is a Consulting Engineer, in Mechanicsville VA, 804-550-0389 (2006). Outstanding technical reference especially on alternative septic system design alternatives. Written for designers and engineers, this book is not at all easy going for homeowners but is a text I recommend for professionals--DF.
Builder's Guide to Wells and Septic Systems, Woodson, R. Dodge: $ 24.95; MCGRAW HILL B; TP;
Quoting from Amazon's description: For the homebuilder, one mistake in estimating or installing wells and septic systems can cost thousands of dollars. This comprehensive guide filled with case studies can prevent that. Master plumber R. Dodge Woodson packs this reader-friendly guide with guidance and information, including details on new techniques and materials that can economize and expedite jobs and advice on how to avoid mistakes in both estimating and construction. Chapters cover virtually every aspect of wells and septic systems, including on-site evaluations; site limitations; bidding; soil studies, septic designs, and code-related issues; drilled and dug wells, gravel and pipe, chamber-type, and gravity septic systems; pump stations; common problems with well installation; and remedies for poor septic situations. Woodson also discusses ways to increase profits by avoiding cost overruns.
Country Plumbing: Living with a Septic System, Hartigan, Gerry: $ 9.95; ALAN C HOOD & TP;
Quoting an Amazon reviewer's comment, with which we agree--DF:This book is informative as far as it goes and might be most useful for someone with an older system. But it was written in the early 1980s. A lot has changed since then. In particular, the book doesn't cover any of the newer systems that are used more and more nowadays in some parts of the country -- sand mounds, aeration systems, lagoons, etc.
Design Manuals for Septic Systems
US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual [online copy, free] Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm Onsite wastewater treatment and disposal systems,
Richard J Otis, published by the US EPA. Although it's more than 20 years old, this book remains a useful reference for septic system designers.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Water Program Operations; Office of Research and Development, Municipal Environmental Research Laboratory; (1980)
"International Private Sewage Disposal Code," 1995, BOCA-708-799-2300, ICBO-310-699-0541, SBCCI 205-591-1853, available from those code associations.
"Manual of Policy, Procedures, and Guidelines for Onsite Sewage Systems," Ontario Reg. 374/81, Part VII of the Environmental
Protection Act (Canada), ISBN 0-7743-7303-2, Ministry of the Environment,135 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto Ontario M4V 1P5 Canada $24. CDN.
Manual of Septic Tank Practice, US Public Health Service's 1959.
Onsite Wastewater Disposal Books
Onsite Wastewater Disposal, R. J. Perkins;
Quoting from Amazon: This practical book, co-published with the National Environmental Health Association,
describes the step-by-step procedures needed to avoid common pitfalls in septic system technology.
Valuable in matching the septic system to the site-specific conditions, this useful book will help you install a reliable system in
both suitable and difficult environments. Septic tank installers, planners, state and local regulators, civil and sanitary engineers,
consulting engineers, architects, homeowners, academics, and land developers will find this publication valuable.
Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, Bennette D. Burks, Mary Margaret Minnis, Hogarth House 1994 - one of the best septic system books around, suffering a bit from small fonts and a weak index. (DF volunteers to serve as indexer if Burks/Minnis re-publish this very useful volume.)
While it contains some material more technical than needed by homeowners, Burks/Minnis book on onsite wastewater treatment systems a very useful reference
for both property owners and septic system designers. We refer to it often.
While Minnis says the best place to buy this book is at Amazon (our link at left), you can also see this book at Minnis' website at http://web page .pace.edu/MMinnisbook
Septic Tank/Soil-Absorption Systems: How to Operate & Maintain [ copy on file as /septic/Septic_Operation_USDA.pdf ] - , Equipment Tips, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 8271 1302, 7100 Engineering, 2300 Recreation, September 1982, web search 08/28/2010, original source: http://www.fs.fed.us/t-d/pubs/pdfimage/82711302.pdf
Septic System Owner's Manual, Lloyd Kahn, Blair Allen, Julie Jones, Shelter Publications, 2000 $14.95 U.S. - easy to understand, well illustrated, one of the best practical references around on septic design basics including some advanced systems; a little short on safety and maintenance. Both new and used (low priced copies are available, and we think the authors are working on an updated edition--DF.
Quoting from one of several Amazon reviews: The basics of septic systems, from underground systems and failures to what the owner can do to promote and maintain a healthy system, is revealed in an excellent guide essential for any who reside on a septic system. Rural residents receive a primer on not only the basics; but how to conduct period inspections and what to do when things go wrong. History also figures into the fine coverage.
Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank, Bombeck, Erma: $ 5.99; FAWCETT; MM;
This septic system classic whose title helps avoid intimidating readers new to septic systems, is available new or used at very low prices.
It's more entertainment than a serious "how to" book on septic systems design, maintenance, or repair. Not recommended -- DF.
US EPA Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems Manual Top Reference: US EPA's Design Manual for Onsite Wastewater Treatment and Disposal, 1980, available from the US EPA, the US GPO Superintendent of Documents (Pueblo CO), and from the National Small Flows Clearinghouse. Original source http://www.epa.gov/ORD/NRMRL/Pubs/625R00008/625R00008.htm
Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook, R. Dodge Woodson. This book is in the upper price range, but is worth the cost for serious septic installers and designers.
Quoting Amazon: Each year, thousands upon thousands of Americans install water wells and septic systems on their properties. But with a maze of codes governing their use along with a host of design requirements that ensure their functionality where can someone turn for comprehensive, one-stop guidance? Enter the Water Wells and Septic Systems Handbook from McGraw-Hill. Written in language any property owner can understand yet detailed enough for professionals and technical students this easy-to-use volume delivers the latest techniques and code requirements for designing, building, rehabilitating, and maintaining private water wells and septic systems. Bolstered by a wealth of informative charts, tables, and illustrations, this book delivers: * Current construction, maintenance, and repair methods
* New International Private Sewage Disposal Code
* Up-to-date standards from the American Water Works Association
Wells and Septic Systems, Alth, Max and Charlet, Rev. by S. Blackwell Duncan, $ 18.95; Tab Books 1992. We have found this text very useful for conventional well and septic systems design and maintenance --DF.
Quoting an Amazon description:Here's all the information you need to build a well or septic system yourself - and save a lot of time, money, and frustration. S. Blackwell Duncan has thoroughly revised and updated this second edition of Wells and Septic Systems to conform to current codes and requirements. He also has expanded this national bestseller to include new material on well and septic installation, water storage and distribution, water treatment, ecological considerations, and septic systems for problem building sites.
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The Home Reference Book, a reference & inspection report product for building owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones
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The HOME REFERENCE BOOK - the ENCYCLOPEDIA of HOMES, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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The HORIZON SOFTWARE SYSTEM manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones