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How to install a sewage pump

A sewage pump controls the waste from your sewage system and brings it outside of your home, keeping your pipes clean and functional. You may need this component if your property has a bathroom or laundry room in the basement to provide adequate flow to the main level.

Even though you can get a technician to install one in your living space, the process is straightforward enough for you to do yourself. Whether you recently bought one or want to buy one in the future, you can use this guide to learn how to install a sewage pump on your own.

What is a sewage pump

What Is a Sewage Pump?

A sewage pump eliminates wastewater that contains solids up to 2 inches in diameter, draining it up into the sewage basin. It sits in a sump basin or a sewage bed, the lowest point of your sewage basin. Here are the various components that work together to bring waste out of the basement:

  • Sewage pump: The pump drains non-potable water into a sewage line or septic tank that's at least 18 inches wide and 30 inches deep. You can find a wide selection of this component, depending on your horsepower needs.
  • Sewage basin: The appropriate water capacity for your basin depends on your home's size.
  • Drain pipes: The drain lines from the water fixtures in the basement slope downward into the basin's side.
  • Float switch: An adjustable float activates the system when it detects a specific level of wastewater.
  • Check valve: This component ensures the wastewater doesn't return to the basin after the pump has gotten rid of it.

Once the float switch activates the sewage pump, the wastewater pumps out of the basin up to the septic line or sewer. After the container has emptied, the float lowers and deactivates the pump until it's full again.

Aside from the standard sewage pump, a sewage grinder pump propels raw sewage with its rotating blades that crush solid waste into smaller pieces before removing it from the basin.

DIY sewage pump installation

DIY Sewage Pump Installation

If you want to save money on installing your new sewage pump from Zoeller at Home, you can follow these simple steps to do it yourself:

1. Prepare the Installation Site

Before you begin setting up your new sewage pump, consider the following:

  • Read the user manual: The appropriate method for installing your sewage pump depends on the specific product you purchased. Aside from these tips, it's also helpful to consult the installation guide that comes with your sewage pump. The manual may also advise you about which accessories are most compatible with your unit.
  • Consult your regional building regulations: Depending on your location, you may have to follow unique building and plumbing codes, including acquiring a permit. Ensure correct installation of this essential component so you can make sure you're following any applicable guidelines. Before you start, consult your local building department about the rules in place for this setup.
  • Requirements for proper ventilation: Know how to provide adequate airflow for your specific product. The sewage pump needs a vent to maintain a balance of pressure as it functions so sewer gasses can escape. This vent travels up from the sump pit and connects to the existing vent or goes out through the roof.
  • Standards for appropriate piping: To allow proper water flow of your drainage system, consider how to install the outlet or discharge pipe. This component should measure about 2 inches in diameter to accommodate the solid waste, attaching to the main sewer line. You also need to install a check valve to prevent wastewater from draining back into the basin.

2. Gather Your Tools

To set up your new sewage pump, you'll need the following equipment besides your new unit:

  • Safety equipment: Use personal protective equipment (PPE), such as goggles, gloves, shoes and a mask to guard against potential waste contamination.
  • Old rags or towels: Clean up possible waste accumulation with an old cloth that you don't mind getting dirty.
  • Boxcutter: This tool can cut the pit's seal so you can remove your outdated sewage pump.
  • Bucket: A 5-gallon bucket can store your old pump and collect waste that could drain out of it.
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) piping: Make sure you find PVC piping that complies with local building standards.
  • Hacksaw: Use a hacksaw to cut any pipes that need to be shortened or opened.
  • Pipe wrench: Attach your PVC piping to the sewage pump using a pipe wrench.
  • Power drill: A power drill can create a weep hole in the discharge pipe to prevent it from drying out.
  • Primer and PVC cement: Connect the pipes and any fittings to your unit with these adhesive materials.
  • Male-threaded adapter: This fitting allows you to attach your discharge pipe to the pump.
  • Coupling: Use this component to connect your new check valve to the pump and the various piping.
  • Zip ties: Secure electrical wiring slack with zip ties.
  • Electrical cord grommets: These pieces protect wiring from potential water damage.
  • Replacement gasket: If you need a new gasket for your sewage pump basin, have it on hand before installing the whole system.
  • Donut gaskets: These components attach the basin cover to the pipes.

3. Remove the Old Sewage Pump

If your home already has an old sewage pump, you can follow these steps to remove it without damaging or soiling your property:

  • Disconnect the vent pipe: If your old basin doesn't come off at the center, you need to remove the vent pipes so you can slide it over them. In some cases, you'll have to use a hacksaw to cut the vent and discharge piping to take off the cover — then you'll have to replace them.
  • Take off the basin cover: The cover may have a strong seal with silicone or bolts over it to prevent sewage gas leaks and odors. If your old basin still has the seal on it, you'll need to cut it with a boxcutter and remove the screws holding the cover in place.
  • Remove the check valve: You must take the check valve off the pump to pull all the components out of the pit. Consider replacing the check valve whenever you install a new sewage pump so you know the drainage system will work properly. For your protection, wear gloves and proper PPE to deal with any remaining wastewater after disconnecting the valve.
  • Take out the old pump: After you've detached the pump, take the discharge pipe and lift the whole unit out of the water, being careful not to let the remaining water inside of it stain your clothes or the floor. Put the old sewage pump in a bucket to control the possible waste accumulation and prevent it from dripping onto your property.
  • Check the pipe, connectors and basin: Inspect these accessories to find out if you can reuse them in your new system. You may need to replace them if they have cracks or stubborn stains.

Install the new sewage pump

4. Install the New Sewage Pump

Now that the old unit is out of the way, you can follow these helpful sewage pump installation tips:

  • Clean debris out of the basin: If you took out an old sewage pump, look into the pit for damage and other abnormalities. Carefully get rid of any materials or waste that may have accumulated on the basin walls. Use a scraping tool to take off the old seal so the new one will be strong and prevent gas leaks and odors.
  • Position the basin: To prevent potential leaks, secure the container with hard hold glue before attaching the pump. Ensure the unit is stable so it doesn't tip or fall when water hits against it. Since this basin operates by gravity, you need to position it lower than the ground so the wastewater can flow into the tank.
  • Install the new check valve: Set up the new check valve before putting the pump in the sewage basin. You may want to position it so the water can pass upward into the main sewer line. To glue this component to the pump, apply primer inside the fitting and outside the discharge pipe. Slide the coupling on top of the pipe, then attach the fitting to the discharge pipe with PVC cement. Twist it slightly and hold for a few seconds to secure the bond.
  • Set up the float switch: Install the float switch on top of the pump and secure it with heavy-duty glue. Position it so the trigger is pointing at the basin and has a free range of motion. Open the vent outlet enough to release as much water as possible each time this component activates the sewage pump. Adjust the float so the tank's wastewater level doesn't get too low below the drain inlet.
  • Test the pump and float switch: Connect the new pump to a dedicated circuit and test it by activating the float switch and making sure it turns on the system. Only allow the pump to run long enough to hear it working, or else it could become damaged. Make sure you've installed the float switch at the right height so the system can operate properly.
  • Measure and cut the PVC pipe: If you need to install a brand-new discharge pipe, measure the old one and consider the proper dimensions given the new check valve's installation. Use a hacksaw to cut it on a raised surface, and smooth out the edges with a deburring tool.
  • Drill a weep hole: A weep hole prevents the pump from drying out due to air locking in the pipe. It also controls the flow of water and air away from the pit, allowing the system to flow freely every time it needs to empty the basin. You may want to lean the pump at an angle and measure a few inches above the adapter. Drill a three-sixteenths-inch gap into the piping for the best results.
  • Connect the adapter and pump to the discharge pipe: With primer and PVC cement, secure the male-threaded adapter to one side of the PVC pipe. Thread the side of the pipe attached to the adapter into the sewage pump, tightening it with a wrench. Be careful not to overtighten it so you don't crack the fittings.
  • Lower sewage pump into the pit: After you've cut the discharge pipe and attached it to the sewage pump, bring both components into the basin. Position the float switch so it's away from the wastewater inlet. It may help to install the discharge pipe to block the inlet water from covering the pump directly. When you've confirmed every piece is in the right position, secure the electrical wiring with zip ties to prevent snagging.
  • Connect the discharge pipe to the check valve: Using the primer and PVC glue, connect the coupling to the top of the PVC pipe. Slide the adapter from the check valve over the coupling before securing it to the discharge pipe. Connect the coupler with glue to the discharge pipe and attach it to the check valve. Slide the adapter up and tighten the check valve with your hands. Overtightening the system may crack the fittings, so avoid this.
  • Test the sewage system: After you've securely placed the pump inside the basin, make sure the float switch can move freely within it. Connect the sewage pump to the designated electrical outlet and fill the basin with a bucket, putting in enough water to activate the float switch. Piggyback the pump plug off the float switch to ensure proper operation.
  • Confirm proper placement of all components: Prepare the new gasket for connecting to the basin cover. Loosen the discharge pipe so you can slide the cover over it. Pull all electrical wires through the basin cover holes before sealing the top. Pull the wire slack up with an electrical wire grommet and fill the gap. Once you've placed the cover, make sure the vent pipe is about 2 or 3 inches below the cover when it's inside the basin.
  • Secure the sewage basin cover: Permanently attach the cover to the basin with a bead of silicone around the opening's edge. Slide it over the discharge pipe and press it into place. Screw the new bolts and washers in place to hold the cover down. If you notice any additional wire slack, pull it above the cover and zip tie it to the discharge pipe, ensuring the wires are below the electrical outlet. Slide the donut gasket over the discharge pipe and lock the gasket into the grooves.
  • Connect the vent pipe to the top of the basin cover: You must attach your sewage pump system's piping to the basin to vent odors and gases. These pipes need to vent outside or connect to the main stack in the home where your other piping connects. Make sure your system complies with all local and regional building codes. Once you've attached both pipes securely and safely, fill the remaining gaps with a bead of silicone to produce a proper seal.

Install a sewage pump from Zoeller at Home

Install a Sewage Pump From Zoeller at Home

At Zoeller at Home, we provide functional, easy-to-install sewage pumps for your property. You can search for a retailer near you to buy the product that best accommodates your living space. If you have any questions about the specifications of any items in our inventory, contact us on our website.