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Important Questions You Didn’t Know to Ask About Sewage Pumps

sewage pump

Sewage pumps, like nearly every other home appliance today, come in a range of shapes, sizes and – most importantly – capacities.

A residential sewage pump is going to have different use guidelines and capabilities from a commercial sewage pump.

And while every residence and business needs to have a system in place to handle sewage shredding and transport, most owners weren’t involved in selecting the sewage pump they currently rely on.

In this article, we outline everything you need to know about sewage pumps that you would not necessarily know to ask.

What Is a Sewage Pump?

A sewage pump is a compact appliance with a specific job. Sewage pumps handle black water waste, which means waste that is sufficiently toxic to need a separate routing system.

The most common source of residential black water waste comes from the commode. For commercial operations, commode black water waste may be joined by other pathogen-contaminated wastewater.

A sewage pump’s job is to prepare black water waste for transport and then assist in that transport. To do its job, a sewage pump may need to handle solid waste of varying sizes and consistencies along with liquid wastewater.

Here, examples of solid waste a sewage pump may encounter can range from human waste to diapers, cleaning wipes to clothing.

3 Basic Types of Sewage Pumps

Different sewage pumps are rated for different types of solids. There are three basic types of sewage pumps: manual, automatic and dual (piggyback).

Each of these sewage pump types may also include extra features, such as a built-in power spray, cast iron and stainless steel construction, permanent lubrication, bronze impellers, interchangeable power cords and more.


A manual sewage pump will not power on and off automatically based on water levels. Plugging in or unplugging the unit manually powers it on and off.


An automatic sewage pump comes with a built-in float switch that will sense water levels and run the unit or not as needed.

Dual (piggyback)

Some manual sewage pumps can be connected to a piggyback float switch to work in dual mode. The float switch triggers the pump to turn on or off. These pumps can be operated in manual or automatic mode.

4 Basic Levels of Sewage Pumps

There are four basic levels of sewage pumps: effluent, grinder, solid handler and submersible.


An effluent sewage pump is designed to handle standard residential waste or very light commercial waste. Effluent sewage pumps are primarily focused on removing liquid wastewater (called effluent).


A grinder sewage pump is designed to handle heavier solids as well as liquid waste. The grinder mechanism takes solid waste and literally grinds it up into fine particulates before sending it through to the septic tank.

Solid handler

A solid handler, or solid ejector, sewage pump can handle even solid raw sewage and is powerful enough to pump well in low-pressure situations.


A submersible sewage pump is capable of running even while being submerged the majority of the time. There are several different levels of submersible sewage pumps, including those that primarily handle liquids and those that can grind up or eject and transport heavy solids.

Frequently, sewage pumps installed in basements or underground for agricultural use are submersible-type pumps.

How Does a Sewage Pump Work?

Sewage pumps today can work in a variety of ways to transport waste downhill, uphill, across level ground or some combination thereof. Above-grade sewage pumps rely on gravity to send sewage downhill to a sewer line or septic holding tank.

Submersible sewage pumps and any sewage pump that is installed below the transport line will need to use a pump to move the waste to its next destination.

The pumping and transport mechanism can differ depending on the type of waste being handled: liquid (effluent), light solids, heavy solids or submerged black water.

Because sewage pumps need to handle both liquids and some degree of solid waste, the pump mechanism typically uses a centrifugal motion that generates kinetic energy to keep the waste moving through and out of the pump and into the transport line.

Warning Signs You May Need a New Sewage Pump

If like most homeowners and business owners you inherited your existing sewage pump along with the space itself, you may not know the warning signs of a pending breakdown.

  • Frequent line clogs or backing up

  • Unpleasant odour

  • Pooling water

  • Extra-healthy septic field grass

  • Slow-draining line

  • Abnormal water test results

3 Major Sewage Pump Maintenance Benefits

There are three main benefits to keeping your sewage pump well maintained.

1. Guard against flooding

It nearly goes without saying that a non-operational or unreliable sewage pump opens the door to toxic wastewater backup into your basement or home.

2. Prevent mould and mildew

A well-maintained sewage pump that is working properly will keep water moving through and out of your basement or crawl space to ensure mould and mildew spores do not find a ready supply of moisture from which to colonize.

3. Reduce the threat of building fire

Standing water in a basement or crawl space is a danger not just due to pathogens. Water can cause appliances to short-circuit, triggering a home or workspace fire.

Get in Touch

Do you have more questions about sewage pumps? Are you ready to schedule maintenance for your sewage pump and septic system? We can help!

Contact us online or give us a call at 877-885-3403.

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