About nine out of ten of the sewer pump related calls we receive are because the homeowner’s sewage alarm is going off. It’s definitely a noise that’s loud enough to wake you up in the middle of the night. Unless it’s a false alarm, it means that the liquid level in the pump chamber is too high. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to have a backup in your home immediately, but it’s something that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
As a homeowner, there are a couple of things you can do. There’s normally a manual switch that you can use to pump the chamber down. Hopefully that will cause the alarm to turn off. After that, you should reduce water usage as much as possible. That means not doing laundry, taking long showers, or flushing/running water excessively. There’s probably enough room in your pump chamber to hold a mere 20-50 gallons of water. A single load of laundry uses around 50 to 70 gallons of water, so it can back up very fast if the water has nowhere to go.
The sewer pump system itself works with switch floats that turn the pump on and off. A lot of times, those floats can go bad. (That doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s anything wrong with the pump itself.) If the floats aren’t working properly, then the pump won’t know when it’s supposed to turn on/off. That’s why putting the system into manual will cause the sewage level to start pumping down.
The pump chambers can be located either inside or outside of the home. They’re most commonly located outside of the home and covered with a green lid or concrete lid. You definitely don’t want to mess around with it if you’re not knowledgeable about what you’re doing. It could be extremely dangerous if the lid was carelessly removed. It would make it very likely for someone to fall into the pit. Remember, it’s a system that deals with sewage, so you want to be extremely careful. You should absolutely leave it to a qualified professional.
The environment in the pump chamber isn’t very clean. Since the system is mechanical, the pump and/or float can fail as often as every four to six years. The best thing for you to do as a homeowner is to manually turn on the pump and conserve water until a professional can come to your home and take care of the problem. If you’d like to perform yearly preventative maintenance to make sure your sewer pump works properly, join our Diamond Club.
Whether you’re already experiencing sewer pump issues or you’d like to prevent them from happening, or give us a call at (540) 483-9382.