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Thread: My Own Personal Lift Station

  1. #1
    DIY Member ddmoit's Avatar
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    Default My Own Personal Lift Station

    Shortly after moving into our current house back in June, the drains started slowing down. It soon got to the point where we couldn't use them. A fantastic plumber investigated our problem and quickly (7 minutes!) determined that although we are on the city sewer, all of our waste goes to an old septic tank. From there is is pumped out by a submersible pump out to the city sewer. The pump quit working.

    None of this setup was disclosed to us by the seller. We had no idea that a pump was hooked up to our electricity, or that an old septic tank was being used as a lift station tank.

    I had the plumber restore things pretty much the way they were. I have a new submersible pump in my former septic tank. The hatch is buried about 3 ft. below the lawn surface (fortunately it's very sandy and easy to dig).

    I was told by the plumber that our sewer line out of the house is below the city sewer line so it would not be feasible to connect directly to the city sewer - at least not the plumbing in the basement. All of our sewer leaves the house through one pipe, so I'm not currently interested in trying to run the main level out to the city sewer separately (The house is a ranch with a walkout basement).

    Has anyone heard of such a set-up? Does anyone have any ideas about how I might improve my situation? It seems like I'm just sitting here, waiting for the pump to fail again, and go undiscovered until the drains don't work.
    Dan in SE Tennessee

  2. #2
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Default

    It is not at all uncommon to use a pit and pump to move the basement sewage to the main sewer line. Do a little search on sewage pump here and using google, and you'll see lots of options. As long as you can route the main floor's drain line via gravity to the city sewer, you can split the runs and join the basement stuff to it with a pump. Then, if the pump failed, you'd still be able to use the upstairs stuff without problems.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  3. #3
    DIY Member ddmoit's Avatar
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    Default Garbage Disposer in Kitchen Sink

    Does anyone see a problem with operating a garbage disposer with the system I described at the beginning of this thread?
    Dan in SE Tennessee

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    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    There is no problem operating a garbage disposer with the kind of system you describe.

    Using the septic tank as the pump station saves a lot or re-piping and expense. That is why it is done.

    They usually disconnect the leach field and plug the outlet so groundwater won't get back into the septic system. Otherwise, a high groundwater condition in the spring can cause you to be pumping it into the sewer system, which costs you a lot of electricity and the city a lot of treatment cost.

    You could put a large "stovepipe" on the top of the septic system, with a cover, that would give you access for servicing the pump. I wouldn't bother with it unless you are in the habit of flushing cloth diapers into the system and plugging up a non-grinder type pump.

  5. #5
    DIY Member ddmoit's Avatar
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    Thanks, Bob.

    I believe - but don't know for certain - that they disconnected the leach field. I'm at the top of a ravine, so ground water getting in should not be a problem.
    Dan in SE Tennessee

  6. #6
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking lift statioins

    I have a lift station comming soon to my
    back yard too.....

    and it will have to pump up
    about 15 feet to the sewer at the top of the
    hill...

    they are really no big deal, except in your case,
    it would be very very wise to make an access
    to this system....

    if you have it buried three feet under the ground
    that means some day, (probably in the dead of winter)
    you will have to uncover that dirt and get into
    that tank again....

    it would be wise to go out to a plumbing supply house
    and buy a 36 round inch
    water meter pit and get a 36 inch lid for it, cut it down to size
    and make life easy on yourself or the dumbass plumber who is
    gonna have to climb down into that hole some day

    he will certainly make you pay dearly if their is no easy access.....
    I know that I would really make you squeal if I had to dig one up..



    a tank alarm is very cheap too

    total cost about 150 bucks for pit and alarm..

    cost to dig up your yard in a snowstorm or rainstorm...

    that is simply priceless.......
    Last edited by master plumber mark; 03-23-2007 at 01:07 PM.

  7. #7
    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bob NH
    You could put a large "stovepipe" on the top of the septic system, with a cover, that would give you access for servicing the pump ...
    I have those kinds of accesses on my tanks and a distribution box, and that sure saves a lot of time digging and repairing the lawn. Any nearby septic tank manufacturer or installer will likely have a ribbed, heavy-plastic, 24" diameter riser that can be cut to length and a lid you can install for probably around $100.00, altogether.

  8. #8
    Moderator & Master Plumber hj's Avatar
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    Default lift station

    ANYTIME the pump system has to service the entire house, it should NOT be a single pump that can fail or get overloaded and cause the house to flood. You should either modify the existing system so it consists of two pumps, with all the bells and whistles that calls for, or split your drainage so only the basement is taken care of by the pump.

  9. #9
    In the Trades Bob NH's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hj
    ANYTIME the pump system has to service the entire house, it should NOT be a single pump that can fail or get overloaded and cause the house to flood. You should either modify the existing system so it consists of two pumps, with all the bells and whistles that calls for, or split your drainage so only the basement is taken care of by the pump.
    Your septic tank is good lift station. A 1000 gallon tank can be operated at a low level so you have a couple of days of capacity available if the power goes off. You also have a couple of days to pull and replace the pump.

    An alarm is essential so when the level starts to rise, you will have time to fix it before if fills.

    You can put two pumps in the tank, connected through check valves to the outlet, and operated with "duplex" controller that alternates operation and operates the working pump if one fails. Duplex controllers can easily cost $1000 unless you can "do it yourself", in which case you can put one together for about $200.

  10. #10
    DIY Member ddmoit's Avatar
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    Default

    Thanks again everyone for all the useful tips and opinions. I'm convinced that I have some more work to do on this system before I can rest easy. And, I feel much better about my odds of resting easy when I'm done.
    Dan in SE Tennessee

  11. #11
    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking that aint gonna happen

    You are foolong yourself if you think you are
    gonna get to rest with one of those systems....

    I am not happy about having to put one in my home


    you might get to be at ease for a while ,,
    but you have to
    be vigilant at all times for troubles...

    but the easier you make it on yourself..... all the better....

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