What’s a grinder pump?

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A macerator pump breaks down wastewater before sending it to the sewer, allowing for smaller diameter piping and reducing installation and maintenance costs. It requires electricity to operate and can become clogged by certain materials. Homeowners should pay attention to alarms and keep the access point clear for technicians.

A macerator pump pulverizes the wastewater before sending it to the sewer lines. This may be necessary when a homeowner cannot rely on gravity to pull waste down the sewer. The pump builds up enough pressure to force a load of wastewater and suspended solids into the sewer, freeing the storage tank attached to the pump so it can resume collecting household waste. Homes connected to a sewer system may have a macerator pump installed by the sewer authority, in which case the pump is the agency’s responsibility, although the home’s residents share some responsibilities for keeping it in good working order.

In facilities using a macerator pump system, the wastewater flows into a storage tank. A float determines when the fluid level in the tank is high and activates the pump, which breaks down the material inside and pressurizes it to force it into the sewer. Pre-treatment with a macerator pump means that smaller diameter piping can be used safely, reducing costs associated with system installation and maintenance.

These devices don’t work when the power is cut off, because they require electricity to operate. Homes with a grinder pump should be careful about water usage during power outages, or they might consider using a generator to run the pump. It can also become subject to periodic clogging; the sewer authority may send a technician about every six months to check the pump and controls and, if necessary, clean it.

Materials such as sanitary napkins, nappies and fats cannot be discharged into the system, as they may cause clogging. It’s also important to pay attention to the alarms that the system makes, warning people when it may be overflowing or has encountered another operational problem. Residents can call for assistance when the grinder pump alarm goes off. Many agencies maintain on-call personnel to answer these calls in case of an emergency such as sewage flowing back into the yard because it has nowhere to go.

If a macerator pump is part of a home’s wastewater management plan, an access point should be visible somewhere in the yard. It’s important to keep this clear so technicians can access it quickly. Residents should not plant trees or shrubs near the equipment and should ensure that the grass is cut. Potted plants and other movable objects can be used to camouflage the access hatch until it’s actually needed.

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