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mtwomey
11-05-2008, 03:00 PM
Greetings,

About a year ago, we converted our sewer system to an overhead system. This was due to some sewer backup issues we were having with the city during heavy rains. The conversion went well and to the best of my knowledge the company that did the work did a good job.

Before they left, I asked them if any periodic maintenance was needed and they said 'no'. I've been thinking about this recently, and it wanted to get a second opinion on this 'no maintenance' concept. Does this sound correct? No annual... anything...?

Since we have a finished basement (newly finished I might add), we're highly interested in catching any issues before we have any self-inflicted backup. My concern would be that the system would stop working and a load of laundry would come pouring out our toilet or shower drain, unnoticed until significant damage had occurred.

Any thoughts on this or how people generally handle the long-term care of such a system?

Thanks,

-Matt

Redwood
11-05-2008, 04:57 PM
If this system was one that serviced my whole house I would use a duplex system with an alarm...

hj
11-05-2008, 06:58 PM
An overhead sewer, when properly installed does not have ANY basement fixtures connected to it, except by the use of a pump. Therefore the only maintenance needed is to check the pump for proper operation. And if it starts to back up STOP using water in the basement until the pump is serviced.

mtwomey
11-06-2008, 08:27 AM
An overhead sewer, when properly installed does not have ANY basement fixtures connected to it, except by the use of a pump. Therefore the only maintenance needed is to check the pump for proper operation. And if it starts to back up STOP using water in the basement until the pump is serviced.

Well, I believe this is what I have - basement fixtures go into the retention tank and are pumped up and out from there. There are four fixtures:

Shower
Toilet
Small floor drain
Laundry drain

What I'm concerned about is how we'll know if the pump breaks before a backup occurs. Maybe I'm blowing it out or proportion, but we just refinished our entire basement at great cost due to the city sewer system backing up into our house (which led us to the overhead sewer conversion). Are there alarms that can/or should be added to the system? Also, the tank is in our crawlspace which is slightly below the level of our basement floor. Our crawlspace has a mud floor with a vapor shield. If the pump did break (for example while someone was taking a shower) would the water likely start to back up out the basement fixtures or would it overflow the tank into the crawlspace (I don't know if these tanks are sealed)? Frankly I'd prefer it back up into the crawl space rather than our finished basement - but I'm wonder how people avoid this all together?

Thanks for you comments.

Redwood
11-06-2008, 09:44 AM
I think that you are worrying too much.
I would make sure that your biggest worry is covered.

I would not run the washer while not at home and I would make sure that the sump alarm is audable on all floors so if a failure occurrs you can run down and shut the washer off. Using other fixtures should not be a concern as they will just appear to be clogged and you stop using them.

Southern Man
11-06-2008, 10:04 AM
Well, I believe this is what I have - basement fixtures go into the retention tank and are pumped up and out from there. There are four fixtures:

Shower
Toilet
Small floor drain
Laundry drain

What I'm concerned about is how we'll know if the pump breaks before a backup occurs. Maybe I'm blowing it out or proportion, but we just refinished our entire basement at great cost due to the city sewer system backing up into our house (which led us to the overhead sewer conversion). Are there alarms that can/or should be added to the system? Also, the tank is in our crawlspace which is slightly below the level of our basement floor. Our crawlspace has a mud floor with a vapor shield. If the pump did break (for example while someone was taking a shower) would the water likely start to back up out the basement fixtures or would it overflow the tank into the crawlspace (I don't know if these tanks are sealed)? Frankly I'd prefer it back up into the crawl space rather than our finished basement - but I'm wonder how people avoid this all together?

Thanks for you comments.

If the pump fails to start the water will back up in the lowest fixture; probably your floor drain. The most common type of failure is a float hang up on something like toilet paper. You can minimize the potential by limiting use of the toilet for "#2", and especially the disposal of cloth-like wipes or "woman products".

It appears that the worst case would be your washer dumping water to the system with the pump off somehow. If that volume would cause damage then you might consider a high water alarm in the sump. A simple experiment with the pump turned off just before it was about to cycle and running the washer through a large cycle would tell you that answer. You could even rig an alarm to turn the washer circuit off.

hj
11-07-2008, 05:23 AM
You can have a float alarm installed in the tank, but the only water that can overflow onto the floor is what you use in the lower level. Once you see signs of a pump failure, i.e., the toilet doesn't flush or water is coming up in the tub or shower, merely NOT using any water anywhere in the basement will stop the problem

Southern Man
11-07-2008, 06:39 AM
As long as you don't consider water on the floor to be a problem.

mtwomey
11-07-2008, 08:28 AM
Ok - thanks for the comments! I do consider water on the floor to be a problem (particularly if it's waste water). If it comes out our floor drain, it will put waste water into the carpet and nearby drywall (there is carpet over the floor drain). I will look into adding a float alarm to the system which sounds like the best option unless anyone else has any advice/comments?

Thanks!

Redwood
11-07-2008, 04:36 PM
When you set up your pit alarm it should be set up something like the picture shows below. I like to set the pump to run as little as possible. The number of starts an hour has a definite connection with the life of an electric motor. Motors starting use between 125% and 150% of the amperage they run at. This puts heat into the motor which is the motors enemy.

If you have adjustable floats on the motor set it so it goes as high as possible before starting without flooding the drain lines going into it, then have it pump out as low as possible without drawing air.

The alarm should come on a very short distance above the highest point where the pump comes on. This give you a little time to get down the stairs to turn off the washer etc.

http://i44.photobucket.com/albums/f2/Redwood39/ejectorpitfloatswitchsettings.gif

Southern Man
11-07-2008, 04:43 PM
It is unlikely that there will be room in the existing pump tank for an alarm. I think we are talking about putting a separate alarm contact in the floor drain sump, which is the fixture that would back up first. That could be a simple wet contact switch that shuts off the washer circuit before the sump backs up to the point that water gets onto the floor.

[**prepares for another tirade against engineers and southerners**]

Redwood
11-07-2008, 05:27 PM
These would be some of the commonly used ejector pit alarm systems.
Sump Alarms by Zoeller (http://www.zoeller.com/zcopump/products/controlaccess/apak.htm)

In the post above we have an engineer trying to reinvent a wheel.

hj
11-07-2008, 08:01 PM
The alarm operator is a simple float switch and there is plenty of room in the pit. You anchor it to the discharge pipe at the proper distance below the floor level.