SEPTIC PUMP INSTALLATION - CONTENTS: A guide to installing Septic tank pumps, septic grinder pumps, septic effluent pumps. What is the difference between a sewage ejector pump or grinder pump and a sump pump? Why would using a sump pump in a sewage holding tank lead to trouble?
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Guide to septic pump or sewage ejector pump installation:
This article describes sewage ejector pumps and residential or light commercial-use sewage grinder pumps used to move wastewater from low areas to a septic tank or to a municipal sewer line.
This septic pump or sewage pump article series will help you diagnose and fix problems with sewage pumps, perform normal sewage ejector pump maintenance, and when needed, select and buy a sewage pump.
This article series also explains the differences between and gives installation and maintenance advice for Sump Pumps, Sewage Ejector Pumps, Septic Grinder Pumps, Sewage Pumping Stations, &
Septic Pump Alarms. Citation of this article by reference to this website and brief quotation for the sole purpose of review are permitted.
The sewage grinder pump is housed in a plastic or steel reservoir which receives waste from the bathroom or other plumbing fixtures it serves.
When a float inside the reservoir indicates that the sewage level has reached a high level in the reservoir, the float turns on the grinder pump which grinds and pumps away the waste.
The pump shown at the top of this page is a sewage grinder pump which grinds the waste and pumps the solid/liquid measure to the building main drain. At left the sewage grinder pump parts include:
Sewage Grinder tank (this is an Environment One Grinder Pump System)
Lifting eyes for removing the assembly (the circles at the mid-tank seam)
Electrical wiring leads for the grinder pump and septic pump alarm
Electrical disconnect box for the grinder pump system
Drain inlet: 4" PVC tank inlet for connection to building drains served by the pump
Sewage pump tank vent. The sewage grinder tank must be vented either directly or through the inlet pipe and within 4 ft. of the tank to a building plumbing vent stack
Drain inlet gravity service line - wastewater flows into the tank by gravity from this line.
Ground sewage outlet: 1 1/4" male pipe thread discharge outlet (the small diameter pipe leaving the tank at top right and passing through the foundation wall)
Concrete septic pumping tank anchor (900 pounds, or about 6 cu .ft. of concrete to prevent the tank from floating up out of the ground)
Sewage Pumping Tank bedding gravel, 6" deep of rounded pea gravel.
(Sketch is from the Environment One Low Pressure Sewer Systems Grinder Pump catalog.)
Sewage or Septic Grinder pumps grind the solid waste entering the system, then pump it to the building drain. The building sewer drain then carries this mixture by gravity (a gravity main system) or by pump pressure (a forced main) to its destination at a septic tank and drainfield system or to a municipal sewer. Septic grinders are intended for use at residential or small commercial locations.
Because the waste is ground and pumped under pressure, these pumps can lift high distances, say from a basement floor even to a street sewer which may be uphill from the home, or to a high pressure sewer main that may be located some distance away.
For example, we inspected a summer camp community which used this force-main sewer system to move waste from buildings across a site covering several acres to a common septic system.
Small sewage ejectors are for homes and commercial applications where toilet usage and wastewater loads are modest.
A typical home sewage grinder pump uses a 1/3 to two horsepower electric motor which powers a grinder mechanism that grinds the waste, and an actual sewage waste pump which moves the ground sewage/wastewater mixture up a riser pipe to its destination: the building main sewer drain, where the wastewater is carried to a septic tank or to a community sewer line.
Sewage Pump Installation Details
Sewage / Septic Grinder Pump Installation Tips adapted from Zoeller Pumps & other sources & installation manuals: (See REFERENCES)
[Click to enlarge any image]
Read the instruction manual from the grinder pump manufacturer
Install a duplex or two-pump system along with a pump alarm system if your building may be damaged by system overload or by an inability to keep up with water or waste inflow rates into the pump system
Check for the requirement for local building permits, electrical & plumbing inspections, code compliance requirements for your installation
Electrical power for the sewage or septic pump
Turn off electrical power to the grinder pump circuit before handling or installing the pump. The pump electrical circuit should be properly grounded, without splices in the connecting pump cord. Don't use an extension cord to take power to the pump.
Make sure that the pump basin or well is large enough in diameter to give free movement to the float assembly without binding
Don't lift the pump by its power cord
Electrical circuit splices in damp or wet area need to be in waterproof junction boxes
Install a battery-backup pumping system if your building is subject to power outages
Tape or secure the pump's power cord to the discharge line and keep it well away from the float assembly, sharp edges, moving parts
Confirm by electrical testing (DMM/VOM) that the electrical ground for the pump circuit is in fact connected and working. The pump motor should be connected using the factory-supplied 3-prong plug and it should be connected to a 3-prong grounded electrical receptacle.
Pumping basin, well or chamber
for the sewage or septic pump
Be sure there is no debris in the bottom of the grinder pump well or basin; remove small pebbles, sticks, other solid debris
Be sure that the pump base can stand on a solid, flat, level base. Deepen the well accordingly if you need to install a concret block or other support below the pump
Provide a secure, child-proof basin cover for the pumping chamber
Plumbing for the sewage / septic grinder pump
The discharge pipe must not be smaller in diameter than the diameter of the sewage pump's discharge pipe connection opening
A check valve should be installed in the pump's discharge line, otherwise it will be pumping the same wastewater repeatedly at each pumping cycle.
The weep hole or sewage / effluent / ejector pump discharge line vent hole permits purging of air trapped in the discharge line at the start of a pump-on cycle. This vent prevents discharge line clogging and pump seal failures. Note that some grinder pumps include a vent opening right in the pump housing oppsite the float control. Even so, the vent in the discharge line is still required.
At bottom left of our illustration you can see the weep hole vent location for a typical grinder or effluent discharge pump discharge line marked and circled in blue.
[Click to enlarge any image]
Zoeller Pump and some other sewage pump manufacturers provide a combined union/check valve, [For example Zoeller's "Unicheck" valve]. Zoeller notes that with this valve is installed, the installer must drill a 3/16" (5mm) vent opening in the discharge line at a height even with the top of the pump. This discharge line must be cleaned periodically. You should see water squirting out of this opening when the pump is running.
The following excerpt is from Zoeller (2009) cited at REFERENCES
It is necessary that all submersible sump, effluent, and sewage
pumps capable of handling various sizes of solid waste be of the bottom intake design to reduce
clogging and seal failures.
If a check valve is incorporated in the installation, a vent hole (approx.
3/16") must be drilled in the discharge pipe below the check valve and pit cover to purge the unit
of trapped air. Trapped air is caused by agitation and/or a dry basin.
Vent hole should be checked
periodically for clogging. The 50 or 90 Series [Zoeller] pumps have a vent located in the pump housing
opposite the float, adjacent to a housing lug, but an additional vent hole is recommended.
Watch out: Zoeller also issues this warning about use of vent holes on high-head sump or ejector pump installations:
vent hole on a High Head application may cause too much turbulence. You may not want to drill
one. If you choose not to drill a vent hole, be sure the pump case and impeller is covered with liquid
before connecting the pipe to the check valve and no inlet carries air to the pump intake.
THE [sewage, sump, or effluent pump vent] HOLE MUST ALSO BE BELOW THE BASIN COVER AND CLEANED PERIODICALLY. Water
stream will be visible from this hole during pump run period. - Zoeller (2009)
Set the Sewage Ejector Pump Float Control Switch
A float control switch is used to turn the sewage pump on and off. Be sure to set the switch position and to adjust the float positions that turn the pump on and off in accordance with the manufacturer's installation instructions.
Most float switches used on sump pumps and sewage ejector pumps are set to turn the pump on well before the holding chamber is at risk of flooding the building, and to turn the sewage pump off while the pump body or at least the pump impeller assembly is still below the liquid level in the chamber.
See more illustrations of types of sewage ejector float control switches and notes on float position setting found at SEWAGE PUMP DAMAGE & REPAIR.
The sewage pump shown at left is a Little Giant model, available from plumbingsupply.com  and other plumbing suppliers.
Guide to Non-Clogging Sewer Pumps
Non-clogging sewer pumps, or "non-clogs", are similar in principle to the grinder pumps discussed above, but they have more capacity, and can move solids up to 4" in diameter to a sewer main or waste handling system.
Non-clogging pumps are used in some residential installations but more often in commercial or community systems or
at SEPTIC PUMPING STATIONS.
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 Weinman Installation and Operation Manual, Submersible Sewage Ejector Pump, Crane Pumps and Systems, 420 Third Street, Piqua, Ohio 45356 Phone: (937) 778-8947 and Crane Pumps and Systems,
83 West Drive, Bramton,
Ontario, Canada L6T 2J6,
Phone: (905) 457-6223
Fax: (937) 773-7157 Fax: (905) 457-2650
www.cranepumps.com. See Weinman submersible sewage ejector pump installation and service manual for an example instructions for the Weinman Series WE and 3WE sewage ejector pumps ranging from .5 to 1 hp. Web search 8/9/11, original source: http://www.cranepumps.com/downloadables/CATALOGS_OIPMs/
 Drain & Sewage Ejector Packages, plumbingsupply.com, Sewage Ejector pump types, models, float control switches using Little Giant and Zoeller sewage pumps as examples, web search 08/15/11, original source http://www.plumbingsupply.com/
 Float Switches for Pumps, plumbingsupply.com, Sewage Ejector pump types, models, float control switches using Little Giant and Zoeller sewage pumps as examples, web search 08/15/11, original source http://www.plumbingsupply.com/
Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
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.
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
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.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
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.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
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