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We have listed some general answers to frequently asked questions about grinder pumps used for sanitary sewer service. BCSS is not responsible for pump systems and sewer service lines on private property. We suggest you use your best judgment in maintaining your system.

Grinder Pump FAQs

Why are grinder pumps needed in some areas?

With wastewater utilities throughout the county, including BCSS, there are gravity systems and pressure systems. Some areas aren’t suitable for gravity systems, so a low-pressure system is implemented. The choice is usually made when roads and subdivisions are developed, and then the utilities provide service and typically maintain the main system infrastructures. When low-pressure systems are installed, each home or building that is connected within that service territory requires a grinder pump and pressure pushes wastewater to the main line, even if the land from home/building to main road slopes downward.

What is a grinder pump?

A grinder pump is a pump unit inside of a cylinder basin that includes a panel box with an alarm. It located on a property where the wastewater drains from a house/ building through a main plumbing line that is connected to the pump.  When the pump basin is full, it automatically turns on and grinds up the wastewater then pumps it through an underground pipe to the main sewer line in the public street.

Why does BCSS require specific grinder pumps on its system?

The low-pressure systems within our service territory have been designed to meet strict specifications and require certain types of pumps to function properly. If BCSS does not provide and/ or install a pump, customers must purchase and have installed any progressive cavity, sometimes called a semi-positive displacement pump.

How long will a new (installed present day) grinder pump last?

10 years is the average life of a dual seal grinder pump. They are many factors that effect that a pump’s life, such as mechanical and electrical design, use, abuse, and acts of God.

What is the warranty on a grinder pump BCSS installs?

The pump is provided with a one year manufacturer’s warranty which covers defects in material and workmanship. These defects typically happen within the first year.

Do you offer an extended warranty?

The pumps that we install include a manufacturer’s defect warranty, and we do not offer nor does the manufacturer offer an extended warranty. This is mainly because manufacturer defects should be obvious within the first year of the grinder pump’s use, and additional repairs after a year are usually due to misuse. Warranty covers only defects in material and workmanship.

What is the difference in the new Keen pump compared to the last E/One pump BCSS installed?
  • Dual oil lubricated mechanical seals versus the E-1 single seal
  • Field serviceable panel mounted capacitors versus the E-1 internal capacitor
  • Field serviceable level sensors versus internal pressure switches
  • For our customers’ convenience, BCSS will continue to service existing E-one pumps on our system for as long as needed.
What should I do if my pump alarm is on?

If the alarm goes off for over 15 minutes, you can try to troubleshoot or contact us for service at (251) 971-3022 or a plumber to schedule a repair. If the alarm goes off after 15 minutes and stays off, you shouldn’t need to do anything as it was most likely resetting itself.

What do I do about my pump when the power is out for a long period of time?
If your power is out for a long period of time and you have a grinder pump, the pump does not work without power. Therefore, if you stay in the home/ building during this time, you should greatly limit water usage. However, there should be some capacity in the pump’s basin before it overflows from the vent on top of the lid, which is typically what happens if you continue to use water when the power is not working. A standard pump basin holds approximately 100 gallons of wastewater, depending on what type you have, and you can remove the pump’s lid when the power goes out to see the level in your basin. If there is a major storm threatening the area or something that could cause power to be out for awhile, you can empty the pump basin with many pumps by pressing the PUSH TO RUN button in the pump’s panel box.
 
There are generator transfer switches available for grinder pumps that allow the pump to work by connecting it to a portable generator.
  • If you have a whole home/ building generator, you will not need a pump generator transfer switch. If you are interested in one, you can purchase one from BCSS, online or a hardware store, and contact an electrician to discuss having it installed.
  • BCSS offers transfer switches for $290 each to existing sewer service customers. You can pay for it when picking it up from the office or add the charge to your bill up to 6 months with 0% interest. Contact us to order one.
·         Generator requirements for residential grinder pumps: 6500 watts minimum, 220 V 4 wire and it has to be wired directly into the power like normal power if you are able, but we recommend that an electrician complete this
·         Pump transfer switch specifications for generator: 30 amp 220 Volt 4 wire
 
If the power is out on your street for several hours or longer and you have a grinder pump, we suggest to turn off the pump’s breaker switch, and wait 30 minutes after permanent power returns to turn the breaker switch on.
 
After your power and pump are back on, the pump should automatically work as usual. If for some reason the alarm is on longer than 15 minutes, you can try to troubleshoot or contact us or a plumber to schedule a repair.
Is there anything that I shouldn’t put down the drains?

The wastewater system and grinder pump will handle all typical household wastewater. However, you should not allow unsuitable materials, such as grease, wipes and rags to enter the drains. We can send you a complete list of items, or you view it at baldwincountysewer.com/systemcare. Most or all of these items shouldn’t enter gravity sewer service lines or septic systems either.

Do grinder pumps require much maintenance?

Grinder PumpNo. Like other appliances in your home, grinder pumps require very low preventive maintenance. We recommend that you squeeze one cup of dish soap down the kitchen sink once a month and also hose out your pump every year (if it is the newer type pump, like the one pictured here). The best thing you can do to maintain your system & pump is to keep unsuitable items out of the drains. You can view all system care suggestions here.

Is a grinder pump noisy?

A newly installed grinder pump may make some a short sound when it turns on. A pump should not be so loud that it is disruptive, and one sound when it turns on does not mean anything is wrong with the pump. If you are concerned about your pump making a sound or have any questions regarding this, please contact us to discuss it.

Do I need to do anything special to the system if I am gone for long periods of time?

No mechanical preparations are necessary. Before any property is unoccupied for longer than 1 month, we suggest you fill up the bathtub and drain it to flush the pump.

Does the grinder pump emit any unpleasant odors?

No. Since the pump will run occasionally to remove wastewater from the basin, there is no odor.

How much does the pump cost to run (power)?

Very little as the pump usually only runs a few times a day.

What are suggestions when there is severe weather?

There are several tips for sewer service and grinder pumps on our Severe Weather Tips site.

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