Water-reducing and sewage-eliminating pumps, whether sump pumps, sewage pumps, grinder pumps, etc., go hand-in-hand with basements, particularly basement bathrooms.
Most of us never think of these pumps — unless there is a problem. Many of us don’t even know if these pumps are installed in the houses, or even the businesses, that we may own. That’s a frequent question asked of our Myers Septic Service technicians: “How do I know if I have a sump pump or a sewage pump?” That is often followed by: “What’s the difference?” Some people don’t realize that they have a pump until it quits working.
We have some tips on basic pump information, and we hope that you find them helpful. We are also available any time to walk you through any questions that you have.
There are a couple of basic things to know:
Sump pumps and sewage pumps are often thought of as the same thing. They are not. Sump pumps handle excess water; sewage pumps handle sewage. They do look alike, and both are used in home basements. Both are considered indoor septic systems. Both pump with a large container.
A pump is necessary for a basement bathroom. The basement is below grade; therefore, it is usually located below the sewage line, which is buried four feet below the house. The pump takes waste and water up and out of the house.
Let’s concentrate on the differences:
Sump/effluent pumps get rid of excess water in basements, possibly caused by rain or flooding. This is a common problem. They prevent water from collecting and are powered by standard AC household electricity, although it’s essential to have an external battery pack, in case there is a power outage during water build-up.
They come in two types:
- Pedestal, for mounting on the floor or wall. These are easy to use.
- Submersible, the pumps are sealed and lowered into a sump pit.
These pumps discharge into a ground drainage ditch or storm sewer. They require maintenance to function properly. There is a 120V primary sump pump for any residential or commercial application. Myers Septic Service does not recommend one brand over another. All carry a three-year warranty.
On the other hand, sewage pumps dispose of what we call “dirty water” and bathroom waste. They are located near the bathroom and use gravity to force large amounts of liquid and solid objects into the plumbing system, leading to the septic tank or leach field. Built of heavy-duty materials, these pumps hold up well, easily withstanding their tough environments. Sewage pumps should be installed and serviced by an experienced technician. Maintenance is rare unless there is a large solid object that blocks the pump and keeps it from channeling. If a need arises, you need a professional.
These pumps require a vent pipe running outside your home to remove the gas and odor that occurs as a byproduct of waste.
Sewage pumps are available in categories:
- Ejector pumps, for handling “grey” or dirty water and limited raw, solid sewage. This could include laundry water, limited septic solids, and other wastewater.
- Grinder pumps, for handling raw sewage larger than ¾-inch in width without getting clogged. Bottom of Form They feature sharp blades that grind the solid waste into manageable slurries easily transported. They provide years of reliable performance. They are most often needed in commercial applications such as bars, restaurants, hotels, and municipal buildings. Solid food is often flushed down drains in bars and restaurants, and hotel guests are often not careful of what they flush down toilets.
Sewage pumps are almost always necessary in any building that has a bathroom. If you don’t have one — before you run into trouble — our technicians at Myers Septic Systems can help you make the decision on which pump is best for your home.
Q. How do I know if I have a sewage/sump pump?
A. If your house is built on a concrete slab with no basement, you probably do not have a sump pump. If you have a basement or crawl space, the sump pump will be sitting in a small pit or in the basement and may have a cover on it. It will usually have one pipe coming up through the lid.
Outside your home, look for a 1¼-inch pipe, or larger, coming through an exterior wall, usually directly above the location of the sump pump. If you don’t find the pipe, sometimes the discharge line is attached to the sewer or buried outside and directed to a low point on the property. If not found, look for a pit outside your home, generally with a solid steel lid.
Q. What is the difference between a sump pump and a sewage pump?
A. Sump pumps are used in basements to collect excess and unwanted water. Sewage pumps are used with bathrooms to force out both fluids and liquids to either a septic tank or other sewage system.
Q. How do I know if I have a sewage pump?
A. First, flush your basement toilet several times. Do you hear the pump turn on? The sewage pump, sometimes called a sewage ejector pump, is used when a bathroom, laundry room, or any other type of plumbing fixture is located below the level of the main floor.
Q. What size sewage pump do I need?
A. This is determined by county codes, after a review of the type of application and types of solids. A sewage pump should have the capacity of handling spherical solids of at least two inches in diameter. Myers Septic Systems can help you with this.
Q. How do I maintain a sewage ejector pump?
A. It’s best to have the pump professionally inspected annually, the same as you do your heating system. Here are the steps:
- Turn off the circuit breaker and water source to the pump.
- Clean the pump, checking oil and the impeller.
- Tighten connecting elements.
- Assess bearing damage.
- Ensure that your seals remain tight.
- Clean vents.
Q. How do I winterize a sewage ejector pump?
A. Winter temperatures can cause a sewage pump and lines to freeze, causing expensive breakage. To prevent this, here are your steps:
- Turn off the water to the pump, toilet, and lines.
- Flush the toilet to remove water from the tank.
- Locate and unplug the sewage pump.
- Remove the lines to drain all water from the pump and the lines running to the pump.
- Re-attach the lines to the pump.
- Fill the tank of the toilet with propylene glycol RV fluid.
- Flush the toilet. Repeat twice.