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First stupid question... what is the pump that....

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  • First stupid question... what is the pump that....

    ...relays waste from house up to the street level sewer called? Our place is below the street level sewer so not sure if this is a special kind of pump or not. I'm trying to get a name so I can diagnose what is happening with pipes.

    Blockage for a week (and boyfriend can "fix" anything... hence won't call pros in) has to be handled. At this point could invest in Flo-Easy rather than just keep buying it (use maybe 4 bottles, spread out over a week, about 1/2 bottle at a time). Snake hits a curve in pipes that it can't seem to get past. Have main bathroom on reverse wall is secondary bathroom (not in use currently so toilet pipe access is open) then onto the laundry line (where the snake does go through and 20' down no plug found yet, though I realized she should put water down that line to check if plug further off). Then line goes to kitchen and out to that pump which then pushes up to sewer line on street above.

    So trying to ID the type of pump so I can find basic info on how they work, how I can tell if mine is working (or not) and then work backwards to find problem... yes, I'm not thrilled about getting under house as the 3 raccoons and 1 skunk that we kicked out pre-Winter left a mess down there not to mention insulation falling down from prior owners' incompetent install (this is a repo being brought back from death after 2 prior generations of druggies so you can imagine...).

    Any clue on pump type?
    Any other general suggestions?

    Thanks in advance for anything!!!

  • #2
    Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

    Sewage ejector/grinder.
    If your boyfriend is using a liquid drain cleaner to remedy a potentially defective pump, I really would suggest you at least have a plumber take a look.


    • #3
      Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

      Time to trade in the boyfriend. He is trying to kill you by dumping chemicals.


      • #4
        Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

        Ok, I'll fess up I've bought 1/2 of the chemicals so far... Using Flo-Easy (read in chart that it could chew through 4 of the possible blockage items rather than just drano)... I suppose on calling pro he's concerned about expense (granted that can apply to a 99 cent part sometimes too)... but one thing at a time, do drain first then re-evaluate boyfriend, huh?

        So is this thing called a sewage grinder/ejector? (Not sure I understood the start of your message Bogart) (Duckbetter never mind PM, for some reason couldn't see your post, now I see)...

        My first part of this quest was to find instructions on what this pump was called as we have no manual for it. We know it is getting power but don't know what would indicate that it is NOT working so I wanted to move backwards on debugging... Line clogs with 2 flushes and backflows, with one flush seems to handle. I hear trickling in line once in a while. Not sure what else to describe. Am I just wasting time thinking with this pump thing?


        • #5
          Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

          If water is eventually draining then it is probably not the pump... (water leaks into the pit slowly then pump turns on...)
          There is probably a partial clog between the WC and the sump pit / sewage ejector...
          The home-owner type snake is not able to clear the clog, or is unable to reach it...
          Get a pro in to check out the line...
          Worst case scenario is that the pump is not working and the sump is leaking under the house... This would mean a pile of rotting sewage under the house to get rid of AND a sump to fix...

          Once again, best bet is to hire a pro to come out and fix it... In the long run it may cost a bit more, but it would get done right and quickly...


          • #6
            Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

            Hi and welcome.
            Not sure from your post if your problem is
            A) between your bathroom(s) and the pit where the pump is
            or B) between the pit/pump and the street.

            Where is your pump? It is typically in a pit. Sometimes pit is inside house under a cover on floor, sometimes outside house.

            What is relative elevation of water level in pit and bathroom floors... are they at the same height?

            the following assumes a pit in house, cover at floor level.

            Where does the problem show up? Where is the water coming up?

            If it is oozing out the cover of the pit, you MIGHT have a pump problem.

            If the water isn't making it to the pit where the pump is; that is, if you have stopped up toilets, or lazy flushing toilets and water and poop and paper coming up in your shower/tub, and you DO NOT have water oozing up out of the cover of said pit, then forget about the pump; you have other problems to address first.

            Post an answer and we'll talk you through the next step.

            Or, as others have suggested, call someone qualified. Boyfriend is in over his head; if he is able to accept that and follow instructions we can probably help. Or if you can get him out of the house so you can work unmolested and can follow instructions, we can probably help.
            This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.


            • #7
              Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

              Hey Ace,
              I gather the problem appears to potentially be between bathroom and pit (before pipes leave house) as I hear gurgling down there...

              I'll answer the other questions in case they help narrow down my non-plumbing babble...

              The pump is outside in front yard and is about 20+ feet from main line. The pipes are all on one side of house (rear bathroom, middle bathroom, laundry, kitchen, exit house). It is a pit with a wood cover on it (lord help me I haven't looked in there but I know some frogs like it around there). Actually there are two pits, not sure why (one tank and one pump? boyfriend's info).

              Elevation of bathrooms and all of house is about 12-20 inches higher than pit (at least). Pipes at their lowest under the house are still some 8" or more higher than even the cover on pit.

              Water comes up when too much is put down drain. One tank flush seems ok, a second tank flush backs up. If I use sink too much it also seems to back up but not as bad (that's 10-15' of pipe between bathroom and kitchen though so I guess it doesn't fill as fast). We're not putting anything down it now but if the flow of water down it is too great then the toilet backs up and stops draining, or the spare bath mid-remodel with no toilet on it and an open drain right now (we were trying to snake down it) then backs up. It used to back up rapidly, now it seems to have more volume (or that trickle is a little larger after being chemically nuked?)...

              If anything is coming up anywhere it is through toilet (water backflow), shower (also water backflow) or the open drain (toilet pipe without cover).

              Because kitchen water contributes to the problem I think it is somewhere in pipe as it heads out of house (either that or the pipe down under is really whacked and abstract... given 1/2 of the staircase and retaining walls made it into the fire pit with past residents... who knows)...

              Hope that clarifies. Having to explain the over the head thing would take much too long (if you can explain that in motorcycle restoration terms maybe otherwise forget it, he'd make a tool from scratch before buying it at times if that gives you any idea...). I can probably attempt items when he goes to work (graveyard shift so I can curse up a storm when/if it doesn't work without disturbing anyone but the neighbors and wildlife, step-by-step)... how's that?

              Thanks much!!


              • #8
                Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

                Last detail, the rise from pit to the actual sewer line (figuring it's 10 feet down) means a rise of 20 feet or so from house up the hill to join sewer.



                • #9
                  Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

                  I believe your problem is between the house and the pit. If so the pump is not the issue. Verify this by doing the following;

                  move anything you don't want to lose away from the edge of the pit. leave wallet, phone etc in house (I've lost more than one phone from breast pocket this way).

                  pull the cover off the pit

                  get a flashlight, look in the pit

                  note the water level in the pit; is it as high (roughly) as the floor of the house?

                  if not,you should see a pipe coming horizontally into the side of the pit from the direction of the house. there will be other pipes, probably one or two vertical about 2" in diameter. the one we are interested in should be about 4" in diameter. it may have a tee or an elbow on it to turn the water from the house down toward the bottom of the pit. it may not. is your trickle coming from this pipe? if these things describe your situation, clog is between house and pit.

                  if you look in the pit and all there is is water everywhere, and the level is about the height of the floor of the house, the pump or its controls are the problem. If you have this, say so and we will tell you what to do next.

                  If the first case, (clog between hose and pit) then use your one or two good flushes to just barely back the house up. preferably have a helper flush inside while you watch the pipe at the pit. do you get just the same or a slightly increased pathetic trickle, or a nice gush out of the pipe? I suspect the pathetic trickle... If you have the tee on the end of, or a baffle in front of the pipe from the house, it is common for paper to wedge there... if a tee or baffle you can often remove the cap (if there is one) and poke a pole/stick/whatever (ski poles work well, if long enough) down thru it and push out the mass of paper, etc clogging it. if you have just a pipe ending in the pit, or the stick doesn't work, you must snake or jet the line between house and pit. This would best be done by someone who does this. If you want to try it yourself, say so and we will help. You will have to buy, borrow, or rent a machine. They are not cheap and you can hurt youself with them.

                  Or, ask the boyfriend if he would let the best Honda mechanic in the world, however well meaning, for any reason, work on his Norton.
                  This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.


                  • #10
                    Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

                    Hey Ace,
                    Sorry to drop off planet temporarily... dental problem, cat problem... now back to drain.

                    We pulled off cover from pump and tank (each has a separate space). Looks like 6" or more of water on top of each from winter rains seeping in so now I'll get that cleared off and maybe be able to see what you are suggesting.

                    BTW, floor of house is raised a good foot from the ground level where the tank and pump are sunken into the ground by about 6". So we have a couple of feet difference between these (just clarifying, your note made it seem like you thought they were at same level).

                    Crashing now (up all nite) but hopefully before he takes off we can get that water off of the two items and do the test. Will check back shortly.

                    ~ J


                    • #11
                      Re: First stupid question... what is the pump that....

                      I understand the cover of the pit is lower than the finished floor of the house; The pipe coming from the house will be lower yet. The question is the level of the WATER in the pit; is it higher than or lower than the pipe coming from the house? I want to determine where your problem is, in pit with pump or in line from house. Water level in pit relative to pipe from house will tell this.

                      Your arrangement is with two tanks? One with pump, one upsteam of that between house and 2nd pit with pump? This does not sound like a sewer system; it sounds like a septic system. Do you know which you have? Do you pay a monthly sewer bill?
                      This is my reminder to myself that no good will ever come from discussing politics or religion with anyone, ever.