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Choosing the Right Sewage Pump

Updated on March 2, 2010

For decades, toilets depended on gravity to move sewage to a septic tank or to a sewage system. Bathrooms had to be placed “uphill” from these sewage-handling facilities, and the drainage pipe leading from the toilet had to be on a downward slope in order for both solid and liquid waste to flow away from your home and be properly disposed of. This is fine if all the bathrooms in your house can be placed in such a position, but what if they can’t? What if, for instance, you want a toilet in your basement? Enter the sewage pump.

How do sewage systems work?

Before we get to the specific types of sewage pumps, a quick lesson about sewage disposal in general: In the case of a septic tank, the waste material is deposited in a holding tank, where anaerobic bacteria break the solid waste down into liquid waste. From there, the liquids flow through the septic lines into the drain field and eventually down through the various layers of soil.

If you’re on a municipal sewage system, your sewage travels from your home to a local sewer. From there, it travels to a treatment plant, usually by the force of gravity, but sometimes through the use of sewage pumps. Next, the sewage goes to settling tanks. Oxygen is then added to increase the amount of microbes that consume most of the waste. Any leftover sludge is then heated and dried, killing the rest of the bacteria. At this point, the dried, treated sewage is either pelletized into fertilizer or buried in a land fill.

What types of sewage pumps are there?

If you’ve ever had a backed up toilet or septic tank, you know how inconvenient and messy it can be. It’s also dangerous because of all the bacteria in human waste. To avoid such an event, choosing the right sewage pump is pertinent.

Grinder sewage pump: This type of pump grinds solid waste into small particles that are then discharged into small pipes by pressure.

Ejector sewage pump: This type of sewage pump can be placed directly in a drainage pipe and will function even in a vertical position. With most of the newer ejector pumps, the toilet sits on top of a square platform, and powerful jets break up solid waste. The pump and tank, which can be hidden behind a wall, then send the waste material on to the septic tank or the sewage system.

Submersible sewage pump: This type of sewage pump is actually housed within the sewage tank itself. The pump’s motor is contained in a protective cavity to keep it from coming in contact with the waste as it reduces solid waste into small particles and pumps them to their appropriate destination.

Which sewage pump is right for you?

The most important things to consider when choosing a sewage pump are power and flow. The pumps can be powered by electricity, gas, diesel, water, steam, or even solar energy. If the sewage has to flow almost straight up, you’ll need a more powerful pump than you would if it just needed to flow slightly uphill. The more powerful your pump, the more flow it will provide.

A grinder sewage pump.
A grinder sewage pump.

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