Sewage grinder pump maintenance?

retiredrobertJanuary 18, 2007

We are building a new home in an area that uses a sewer grinder pump between the house and the city sewer system. If anyone has any experience with this system could you give some recommendations for living with this system and any ongoing maintenance required. Thanks in advance for you advice and comments.

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The term "sewer grinder pump" is not one I have heard previously.

In some homes that have full basements, it is necessary to put a "sewage ejection pump" into a plastic tank about the size of a 55 gallon barrel and this barrel is recessed into the basement floor.

Such a pump does not "grind" the sewage. I simply pumps it out of the tank and sends it to the sewer or septic tank.

There is no maintenance that can be done to these submersible pumps. The best quality ones can be rebuilt should they fail.

What is important with these pumps is this. Do not allow anyone to put anything down the drain or into a toilet other than water/urine/feces/toilet paper etc. Their worst enemy are women's sanitary napkins, tampons and condoms because these can jam up the pump's impeller.

You should get some sort of "high water" alarm. If this pump fails to work for any reason, you want to be alerted to that fact long before the sewage starts filling your basement.

    Bookmark   January 18, 2007 at 10:05PM
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But if you have company/guests throwing items in the system, it can be detrimental.

One new year's eve I was called out to a sewage ejector pump I installed earlier in the year. The customer was furious with me "thinking" I installed a defective pump.

Well this guy was hard on me, giving me a hard way to go and I started to think about how good Zoeller pumps have been to me in the past...

SO....I told the customer as a retort that IF I get to his home, and there is some foreign object causing the failure of the pump, I'm charging from the time I left my office.

This quickly changed his tune, completely.

I get there, pull the lid that is already leaking even though it was siliconed down. Hydropressure was causing the leak. I pull that pump as nasty as it was on the verge of the new year minutes away,

and in the impeller chamber is a wadded up ball of disposable wipes by clorox used for cleaning the bathroom. The customer's asian wife was throwing them down the toilet instead of the garbage can because she read on the box that it was flushable.

Since the entire house wasn't on that sewage ejector, I left the pump out, told him I'd be back in two days with a new one to resolve the problem.

That "attitude" he expressed with me on new year's eve landed him a $698 bill for my two trips and the pump. (pump was $250 plus $30 cast iron check valve)

That money spent REAL good and I'm sure he regrets being hostile at me. He filed for divorce from that asian wife of his 4 months later. :idunno:


    Bookmark   January 19, 2007 at 1:04AM
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Our home also has a grinder pump. It's buried in the ground not far from the house. As the other posts mentioned putting certain items down the drain can cause problems. Our builder also told us to not put floss down the drain. He told us a story of of another homeowner who would floss in the shower and then direct the floss into the drain. Afther a while the build up of floss got tangled up in the pump costing him a lot of money to repair.

The cost of repair and replacement is taken care of through our homeowners association. However our home is only 1 year old and have had no problems so far. On the wall outside the home is a red light and siren incase the system should fail.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 1:43PM
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To be honest, I am having a problem with the term "grinder pump" because it implies that the unit does more than pump effluent. The use of the word "grinder" indicates that this machine is designed with blades that chop/cut/slice/grind or otherwise mechanically reduce objects in the effluent.

I think it's a bad choice of words. One tampon or sanitary napkin can stop one of these pumps dead in its tracks. The impeller is not designed to shred anything.

You're reference to dental floss is bang on. It was recently reported in the local news here that dental floss has become a major problem with the cities sanitation department. They have found wadded balls of dental floss in the sewage transfer pumps and have asked residents to stop flushing it down the toilet.

As I said in an earlier post, having some sort of "high water level warning system" is a very good idea. Your association obviously understands that concept. Good on them.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2007 at 2:12PM
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Our grinder pump is installed and works just like yours. I understand that they are common in hilly rocky areas. We are always pretty careful about things going into the sewer system.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2007 at 8:14AM
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castoff, you shouldn't have a problem with the term as there truly are 'grinder pumps' and sewage pumps. Grinder pumps do have blades that chop/cut/slice/grind waste that mechanically reduce waste to a slurry for removal. NOw whether one chooses to actually use a grinder pump instead of a plain sewage pump is a separate matter, but I do know in many areas the use of a grinder pump is mandatory. The cost is somewhere between 3 to 5K to put one in, and it is almost always located outside and away from the house (usually about 25ft or so). Now, whether or not it can handle dental floss balls - who knows but thats reflective of a level of performance and not necessarily a lack of function.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 6:46AM
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There are two types of sewage ejection pumps, with or without the grinding action.

The term "Grinder Pump" is a slight mis-nomer. Technically it is called a "Macerator Pump".

The macerator is a grinder of sorts that functions in the same manner as an oversized garbage disposal which reduces all the solid particulates in the waste to fine particles that are carried out in a slurry rather than attempting to pump large chunks. While the macerator feature is slightly more expensive in the long haul it will prove to be the less likely to have a discharge pipe clog.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 8:04AM
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The grinder styles I have seen and used have very sharp blades and will chop up effluent. The motors are not tiny either. 1/3 and 1/2 horsepower (and up).
The sewer authority in hilly areas often has to use a few, and they are very large and powerful.
Some of the newer grinder/macerator pumps do look sort of like a garbage disposal.

A straight centrifugal pump is almost the same but has duller blades and clogs a lot easier. They can be used for a laundry sink or grey water removal, but black water really needs a grinder/macerator.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 10:17AM
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castoff, you shouldn't have a problem with the term as there truly are 'grinder pumps' and sewage pumps.

As they say, you're never too old to learn something new. LOL

After removing my foot from my mouth, I took the time to Google "grinder pump" and came up with a mere 1.2 million plus hits. DOH!!!!!!

Here in southern Ontario, developers often strip new subdivisions bare and then regrade them so that they meet specs set out in the subdivision agreement. All of that work is done in order to make gravity sewage systems function and to keep surface grades on a low slope. As such, there is no need for grinder pumps nor sewage ejector pumps.

Sewage ejector pumps are used here in conjunction with septic systems. The first way is when the septic tank is lower than the tile field. The outflow from the tank empties into a 100 to 300 gallon pre-cast concrete tank that is emptied by the pump when the effluent reaches a certain level. No need for maceration.

The second role is when there is a washroom in the basement and the sewage needs to be pumped from a holding tank in the floor up to the main line to the septic tank. Once again, this is an effluent pump only. Essentially, it is a very high quality sump pump.

It would seem to me that the grinder pumps were developed to address sewage problems created by difficult terrain that makes gravity-style sewers either impossible or cost prohibitive.

In any event, thanks for letting me know that these types of pumps do exist.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 10:37AM
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We are located in the mountains of North Georgia and that is exactly why the developer is using Environmental One Grinder Pumps. The area also has a lot of granite near the surface. I watched when my neighbors home was being and theywere installing the grinder pump. They used a trencher that cut into the ground about 12 inches below the surface and installed 1 1/2 inch flexable black plactic pipe. I was surprised at how small it was, but everything works just fine.


    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 3:50PM
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I have a customer that has one of those E-1 systems and it was about $1800 to replace including labor.

Unfortunately I was the one who had to unclog all the lines that was backing up 8 months after it was replaced. The representative for E-1 should of least told the property owner that a flushing of the lines to the pump would be needed since the the pump was inoperable allowing waste solids to build.

The pumps work good.....has the capability to shred aluminum cans and head lift is good. Has a pressurized switch internally that activates the pump instead of outside armatures or floats that can tangle up due to what goes in it.

Here is a link that might be useful: E-One

    Bookmark   January 23, 2007 at 8:30PM
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I clicked on that E-One link and Norton Firewall stopped the action stating that it was trying to install embedded code on my computer.


    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 8:20AM
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Works good for me. Check your settings on Norton; if you have them set too sensitive that can happen.

Try it again out of the source link URL

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 6:38PM
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robert, your firewall security level is set too high.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2007 at 6:46PM
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