Lift Station Problems

While working outside recently, I noticed that the side of the garage looked dirty so I took a water hose to it and sprayed it clean. The next day, I went to the basement to look for a box to mail a package and noticed that there was water on the basement floor. Ugh!

Fortunately the water was contained to the room that has a concrete cement floor and did not spill over into the carpeted room next door. I thought (for sure) I had caused this backup by hosing down the side of the garage. I called my husband at work to let him know of the problem and when he arrived home, he went downstairs and examined the area.

Thankfully, I had not caused the problem. It appeared to be caused by a backed up drain that the air conditioner and water softener flow into. I cleaned up all the water with a mop as we decided how to proceed.

Since we had recently had our septic tanks cleaned out and they had been quite full, I wondered if the backup might be related. The repairman who came out and cleaned the tanks was due to come back the following day as he had checked with the company who installed the tanks and learned that the effluent filter was the cause of the backup so he was coming to remove the filter along with the associated wire that ran to the alarm.

Anyway, when he arrived the next day I told him about the problem and asked him if he thought it was related. He said it wasn’t but that he would look at the backed up drain when he finished his work.

Once downstairs, he unplugged the sanitary lift station and ran it manually. It worked fine. He said it was possible that the lift station had a faulty float. Apparently, this lift station has a float like what you see in a toilet tank. (I’m learning so many new things in this house.)  Here’s a picture of the area we’re talking about. See the water stains?

Basement Drain
Basement Drain

And a closer look of the drain …

Basement Drain
Basement Drain

Our foundation seems to slope a little so none of the water made it to our sump pump but instead flowed down to where we had some boxes stored. Fortunately only the bottoms of the boxes got wet. Whew!

Here is what the sanitary lift station looks like (with the cover on, of course).

Sanitary Lift Station
Sanitary Lift Station

The repairman had to test to make sure the pump was working. The pump and the float are both located inside this lift station in what is called a “well.” There is an electrical plug that runs to an outlet (see picture below). Well, actually, there are two (2) plugs. Both the pump and the float have plugs but the plug for the pump gets plugged into the float plug which gets plugged into the wall. Whew! That was a mouthful! (laughing)

So — basically, only one plug gets plugged into the electrical outlet.

Sanitary Lift Station Plug
Sanitary Lift Station Plug

The way the repairman tested the pump was to unplug the pump plug from the float plug and directly plug it into the electrical outlet so he could bypass the float. If it worked then the pump was fine. And … it did. (I was thankful for that because I didn’t want to worry about needing a new pump.)

So — now to determine the problem. The lift station cover was removed in order for the repairman to test to see if the float was working. With the cover off, he stuck his hand in the well and lifted the float and you could hear the lift station working.

After troubleshooting a little more, he determined that the pipe that goes into the well was rubbing on the float inhibiting it from working properly. He readjusted the pipe, used cable ties to hold them in place then put everything back together.

And — it works. It’s been a week since he performed the adjustment.

I usually am not interested in how things work but I’m finding myself more curious about the things in this house, especially since we have a well and septic system.


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