Sewage Ejection/Grinder Pumps

A grinder pump is a waste water conveyance device. Waste water from a building’s plumbing fixture flows into the grinder pump holding tank. Once the water reaches a certain level, the pump is activated and grinds the waste in to fine slurry. The slurry is then pumped into a sewer system or septic tank. Grinder pumps may be installed in a basement, inside the building, or outside the building in some type of enclosed tank.

A grinder pump station contains the pump, the tank, and an alarm panel.  A cutting mechanism macerates waste and grinds any items that might get flushed down the toilet. Included in the pump housing or as an external device are level sensors to alert the pump when to activate. If the sensors or pump malfunction, there should be an alarm buzzer and an indicator light to alert the property owner of the problem.

The tank is generally made from fiberglass, high-density polyethylene, or fiberglass-reinforced polyester. It has an inlet opening and a discharge opening. Pipes from the building are connected to the inlet; the pipe that leads to the sewer main is connected to the discharge. Often more than one building or restroom can be connected to a grinder station. In this case, more than one inlet can be installed. It is always good to consult the manufacturer first.  There is a lid on the tank that is made from heavy-duty plastic or metal and is bolted or padlocked shut to prevent unauthorized entry.

Generally, grinder pumps do not require preventive maintenance. However, if the tank utilizes a float switch, grease build-up on the float may cause it not to make contact, therefore, not turning the pump on. For this reason, grinder pumps may need to be hosed down occasionally.

Property owners are generally not limited by what they can or cannot pour down their drains because they have a grinder pump. However, certain things should never be flushed or poured down any drain, whether it has a grinder pump connected or not. Some of the items include diapers, feminine hygiene products, kitty litter, paint, or any kind of oil.

Disposable wipes used for personal use or cleaning, etc., are causing problems in areas all around the United States. They cause problems with clogs, as well as with grinder pumps, lift stations, and sewage treatment plants. Some wipes say they are safe for sewers, some say to flush one at a time, or sometimes they say not for pump systems. Consumer Reports recommend that all wipes should be put in a garbage can.

The large sewage pump stations, clogging problems are often avoided by installing a chopper pump in the tank. A chopper pump is able to handle larger solids, including hair balls, diapers, sanitary napkins, clothing, etc.

Sump Pump

A sump is a pit or hollow in which liquid collects, as in a mine or a basement. A sump pump is a device used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump, typically a basement. The water may enter via the perimeter drains of a waterproofing system or because of rain or natural ground water if the sump is below the water table level. Sump pumps send water to any place where it is no longer problematic, such as a municipal storm drain or a dry well.

In older installations, pumps may be routed to discharge with the sanitary sewer. Once acceptable, this practice now violates the plumbing code or municipal bylaws because it can overwhelm the system. Many property owners have inherited their sump pump configurations, not realizing there may be fines for discharging into the sewer.

Sump pumps are usually hardwired into a property’s electrical system. Some may have a battery backup to allow operation during periods when the power is out for a prolonged period. This is important because sump basins may overflow is not constantly pumped.