What Is a Sewage Ejector Pump?
A sewage pump is designed to remove wastewater from below-grade levels and protect you from flooding or sewer backups. Sewage ejector pumps may be required if you have a partly to fully furnished basement with bathrooms or laundry rooms or plan to install plumbing in those areas of your home. The reason for this is because basement plumbing fixtures are typically located below your main sewer line, which means that liquid waste can’t use gravity to flow out and needs the pump to redirect it towards the sewer line. You will also need it if you rely on a septic tank system to manage the wastewater in your home.
What’s The Difference Between A Sewage Ejector Pump and A Sump Pump?
It can be difficult to distinguish between the two at first glance because they have a few things in common—you install both in the basement floor and dig up a sump basin for the device to sit in. However, there is an important distinction to be made between these two types of equipment.
A sump pump’s purpose is to divert water from problems like heavy rainfall that could enter your home through basement drains. It has a valve sensor that detects rising water levels and pumps out excess water once it reaches a specified water level. Sump pumps are best suited for homes that are in areas below the water table (the border between water-saturated and unsaturated ground) and those that need extra basement flooding protection because of factors like a combined sewer system.
Rather than water, a sewage ejector pump removes human waste. It’s typically installed in habitable lower levels like basements that sit below main waste lines and directly connects to your sewer or septic line via a discharge pipe. Basement drainage lines that sit below a sewer main or septic system need help to correctly send waste into those systems, as they can’t rely on gravity. A sewage ejector pump uses horsepower to force the waste upward to reach the sewer or septic tank. Depending on where you live and the location of your sewage or septic systems, a sewage ejector pump could be a requirement to help discharge wastewater.
Sump pumps require more cleaning maintenance, whereas sewage ejector pumps require periodic inspections to ensure that no debris is obstructing the float. Paying attention to the lid will also protect you from sewer gas smells and other potential problems. When either of these devices malfunctions, you could experience water or raw sewage flooding.
Common Types of Sewage Ejector Pumps in Ottawa, ON
When deciding on the type you want for replacement or installation, you should look for the specific qualities that will live up to your needs. These devices come in different sizes and weights, which means that if you already have a sump basin ready for installation, the one you choose will need to fit that existing basin.
Key details to consider include:
- Gallons per hour (GPH)
Keep in mind that an Ottawa sewage ejector pump will spend its time submerged in liquid waste and needs to be durable. While thermoplastic is cost-effective, heavy-duty cast iron delivers durability and better performance. Any pump that is able to treat about 128 gallons per minute is considered good. But it depends on your sewer line’s height—the higher it is, the more horsepower you require for your basement in Ottawa. Sewage ejector pumps have a basic capacity of managing two-inches of solids. There are more advanced versions in the market that can handle up to six inches; they also have added features, such as grinding blades or non-clog impeller guarantees.
How Do I Know I Need Ottawa Sewage Ejector Pump Repair Services?
Like every kind of plumbing device, your sewage ejector can either malfunction, reach its maximum lifespan or be poorly installed. With that kind of mechanical device, you could get into very unhygienic situations if anything happens, so the best option to deal with repairs is professional plumbing service from a company like Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Ottawa.
We specialize in installation, maintenance and repair services to ensure your systems are running correctly. If you have never conducted sewage ejector pump installation or repair before, we recommend you call your licensed plumber before attempting to work on your sewage ejector pump. Ottawa, ON property owners that rely on expert plumbers have greater peace of mind than those who attempt DIY repairs.
Of course, discoloured water coming out of basement drains is a clear sign that there are likely problems with a broken sewer pipe or connected system that should be investigated, but that’s not the only common warning sign of a potential fault with your sewage ejector pump. If you keep an eye out for the early warning signs, you can get the services you need before you have to deal with dirty basement flood water and catastrophic water damage.
Ejector pump won’t start
If the pit or basin is filling up but the device shows no reaction, it’s likely a faulty float or something blocking it. Contact your local Ottawa plumber right away and refrain from using your plumbing fixtures until this situation has been resolved.
It’s cycling or running continuously
When liquid waste fills the basin, it should automatically activate and start removing it. Once done, it should turn off. But If it’s ejecting when nothing is there, that’s a clear sign you need an inspection and repairs, as it might have a faulty switch or motor. This could also be a sign of an aging device reaching its life expectancy.
It’s making strange noises
Just like noisy pipes, noisy pumps should be cause for concern. While they’re not the quietest devices, they shouldn’t make alarming sounds like screeching or whining. Those sounds are possible indications that it’s struggling to break down waste and send it through the discharge pipe. This problem is likely related to a faulty motor or impeller.
If you smell sewage, check if your system is effectively removing wastewater through the drainage system or whether it’s not properly draining. If it appears to be working fine, you should check the cover lid for cracks.
The device should have no obstructions when sending waste up the discharge pipe that connects to the sewer line, but clogs will happen if waste begins to accumulate there instead. If you have this problem, it’s likely that either your device is becoming less effective due to age, or it doesn’t have the required horsepower to reliably support your plumbing system.
Common Causes of Ottawa Sewage Ejector Pump Failures
These devices normally have a lifespan of up to 16 years, as long as you remember to schedule that routine maintenance and only flush human waste, toilet paper and not garbage. Sometimes, technical issues develop that it’s not possible for the average person to investigate, so it’s safest to get your Ottawa plumber involved to determine whether you require a replacement or repair. Some failures are causes by these incidents:
- Faulty float switch: A float switch floats on top of the water and activates the pump as soon as the basin fills up. If that switch shows no sign of activation, it will require immediate attention. As a temporary solution, you can bypass your faulty float switch by using direct power to activate the pump. We don’t recommend you do it on a regular basis as you can over-exhaust your system, which will then permanently fail. Instead, we recommend service to replace the float switch or the device entirely.
- Clogged Discharge Line: When your system is working slower than usual, it’s worth checking the drainage pipe to see whether it’s partially clogged. This would make your device work harder until it burns out. If a clog goes unnoticed, you will also be at risk of having an overflowing basin.
Ottawa Sewage Ejector Pump Maintenance
You will be pleased to hear that this equipment doesn’t require much maintenance. However, there are a few inspection services needed to maintain a high-performing sewage ejector pump. Ottawa, ON homeowners can complete some maintenance tasks themselves by making sure that nothing is blocking the float from moving and ensuring that the lid is sealed properly. If you do encounter foul odours, ensure that the vent pipe is venting the sewer gas accordingly.
If you’re unsure about how to adequately proceed with these inspections, your local Ottawa plumber is happy to help. We also recommend hiring a plumbing specialist for routine maintenance and annual service, so that they can inspect the impeller, motor and other important components. At the same time, checking for contamination is also important, as these devices handle wastewater and greywater, and could otherwise spread sewer gas or other harmful bacteria and contaminants if problems go unnoticed.
FAQ — Ottawa Sewage Ejector Pump Questions Answered
Often, when people buy new homes with furnished basements or plan their renovations, they tend to take the comfort and convenience for granted without realizing that there are additional plumbing services required. Those extra requirements can come with a lot of questions. Luckily, your lumber has all the answers you need.
What Can’t You Flush Through A Sewage Ejector Pump?
It’s always important to emphasize that your toilet or garburator isn't a garbage bin, even if they are being supported by a sewage ejector system. Things that you should never flush include:
- Dental floss
- Wipes (Kleenex)
- Paper towels
- Feminine products
- Cigarette ash or buds
- Cat litter
Is A Sewage Grinder Pump The Same Thing?
This type of device is more advanced in processing sewage, as it has stronger grinding blades to further break down the waste in slurry before discharging it. This way, it moves faster and minimizes the risk of clogs. There are some situations where gravity still isn’t strong enough to move wastewater to the sewer, which is why those sewer mains (also called “force mains” in these situations) are “pressurized” to effectively get the job done. Some properties that have this issue with sewer mains actually require a grinder pump to properly remove wastewater from their basement bathroom.
How Often Should I Replace My Ottawa Sewage Ejector Pump?
A sewage ejector can last anywhere from seven to sixteen years if you maintain it well and schedule maintenance services to ensure it's always working properly. It’s also important that your chosen unit meets the right criteria and is installed correctly. You need to dig the right size basin for the corresponding ejector pump, and always ensure your equipment has enough horsepower to perform the job well.
How Much Does An Installation In The Basement Cost?
Much like sump pump installation, the exact cost of sewage ejector pump installation depends on several factors, such as the current condition of your pipes, whether or not a pit has already been dug and the model you choose to install. The best way to get a specific estimate for installation is to schedule an appointment with our team. When we see your system for ourselves, we can use our judgement to provide an honest, upfront estimate for installation.
Are There Other Systems that Can Protect My Basement?
In addition to installing a sump pump and sewage ejector pump, you can also install a backwater valve, also known as a backflow valve, to stop water from flowing back up into your home because of issues with city pipelines.
Backwater valves work by closing off your pipes when water from something like a sudden storm fills city sewers and flows backward up into your waste lines. By closing off your pipes, they reduce your basement flooding risk, but they also prevent you from using your own drainage systems, so it’s important to remember that while they do reduce flooding risks, they could also cause a flood or backup if they’re not used correctly.
Do You Need A Sewage Ejector Pump in Your Home?
Whether you need us to install an ejector pump or require other urgent Ottawa plumbing repairs for your home, you can depend on the experts at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Ottawa. Our experts will deliver the services, solutions and preventative measures you need for everything from preventing frozen pipes to new Ottawa plumbing installation and replacement.
We offer thorough diagnosis and inspection services to determine the best repair methods for your home and make recommendations for how to care for new fixtures or systems, along with when you should schedule routine maintenance and repairs. Our dedicated team is here to listen to your concerns and guide you through comfortable and safe repairs, replacements and installations that will restore the health of your drainage systems, fixtures and your overall plumbing system.
Give us a call at to schedule an appointment for Ottawa sewage ejector pump service or learn more about our other services. We proudly serve Ottawa and many nearby communities in the National Capital Region, from Gatineau to Nepean and beyond.