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Septic system circuit breaker popping

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  • Septic system circuit breaker popping

    I hope I'm not asking a redundant question. I'm sure this has come up before in here. But here goes.

    My septic system is popping the breaker in my control panel. The main power breaker does not pop. Sewage pump runs about 20 seconds in "manual" mode then breaker pops. Automatic mode doesn't seem to let the pump run at all. I opened the tank and it was plum full of water. Water inside the electrical junction box as well. I pulled the pump out and removed the floats. My pump is a non-automatic Hydromatic SP50MCI1 1/2 hp 12 amp. Seems like a great pump and costs a fortune. The impeller turns by hand nicelly. I haven't powered it up in the shop yet independently and outside the float circuit. I realize water may have gotten into the float chords and this could be part or all of my problem. My first intuition is to replace the pump because it runs for a bit before tripping. An electrical short would trip sooner I think. Maybe not. I've thorught about just going ahead and replacing the pump, especilly since it's been in 13 or so years and I have it out already. But thats a bit expensive. So a few questions:

    1. If I am switching to "manual" mode, it seems I would be bypassing the float switch circuits. Perhaps not. Could a bad float switch still cause the breaker to pop if I am in "manual" mode?
    2. How long do these pumps typically last? Maybe an unanswerable question. My on/off float teather is short (5 inches maybe) so it has been cycling more than it probably should. I will make that longer.
    3. I have my eye on the Zoeller N267 Non-automatic pump as my system is already wired for that setup. Is this my best option? I have a rise of about 5 feet or so to a mound system plus the rise out of the tank.
    4. What is the best way for me to trouble shoot the float switches? I guess I could simply remove one from the system and see if the breaker still pops. Seems there might be an easier way.

    I tried to upload some pics of my pump but my computer is not cooperating.

    Thanks for any and all ideas!

  • #2
    I pulled the circuit breaker and am going to replace it. Also checking for amp draw on motor. It seems to run fine on the bench. No binding or noise. Just gotta get an ammeter.


    • #3
      We don't usually trouble shoot sump pumps but we do install them and replace them. We typically install them with a single float and it either runs the pump when the sump is full or it doesn't. Internet has all sorts of advice on this.

      One thing to check is to make sure the pump is on its own breaker, that nothing else is drawing power on that circuit otherwise that might cause your breaker to overheat. Breakers do go bad tho.


      • #4
        The floats are typically 2 wires to complete the contact. You could easily disconnect the 2 wires, then just use a short jumper wire to the 2 connections at the panel. Floats do go bad and could short out.

        If the breaker was a gfi, then any moisture to ground would trip it. But I doubt a non gfi would trip after 20 seconds, usually immediately.

        You mentioned water in the junction box. box.Thats where I would start. All the cord terminations should be above the pit level. Typically inside the control panel.

        Last edited by PLUMBER RICK; 03-08-2019, 10:39 AM.
        phoebe it is


        • #5
          Could be a waterbased internal short in the pump.