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What is a Septic System Pump?

By Christy Bieber
Updated May 17, 2024
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A septic system pump empties excess water and waste from a septic tank so that the septic tank can continue to function properly. Most septic tanks have an automatic pump, called a sewage pump, which removes waste from the home. Many septic tanks also need pumps to remove water in order to remain environmentally friendly. If a septic tank is not pumped frequently, myriad problems can occur, including foul odors and environmental damage.

Septic tanks are generally used as a waste disposal mechanism when connections to a municipal sewer system are unavailable, impractical or undesirable. Septic tanks are typically reliable and basic, but highly efficient. A septic system includes the septic tank plus a sewage pump tank that needs to be installed slightly below the septic tank.

Sewage pumps are mostly used for home waste purposes. They remove bodily waste from the home and deposit it into a leach field. They are necessary when a septic system is located lower in the ground than the plumbing lines. When installing a septic system pump, the old septic tank usually should be left in place until construction is complete. Installing the septic system pump requires a septic tank, a pump tank, lines, and a permit.

Septic tanks need emptying on a regular basis. Biodegradable waste decomposes due to the presence of oxygen. Over time, the tank fills up and decomposition is stopped. When the waste product takes up more than 35 percent of the capacity of the tank, it usually needs to be emptied. A septic system pump is used to empty the tank.

In order to know when to use a septic system pump, a mastering stick is normally required. First, it is necessary to measure the overall height of the interior of the tank. Then, using the same stick, the level of solid waste can then be determined.

Septic systems also have internal measuring and control mechanisms. These include a pump tank or effluent pump, a high-water alarm, and control floats. The control floats are responsible for ensuring the volume of effluent is sent to the drain field. When effluent reaches a certain level and the control float reaches the on position, the septic system pump is activated and effluent is pumped out until the control float reaches the off level again.

If the control float fails to do its job, effluent will continue to rise in the tank. If this happens, when the tank reaches a certain point, the audible high-water alarm will be activated. Effluent will then be diverted to the emergency storage space. The problem will need to be attended to using a septic system pump in order to ensure that once the emergency space is full, effluent does not overflow or backup into the home.

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