Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Grinder Pump Maintenance: Prevent Waste Disposal Problems with Routine Care

If you are a landlord or property manager in New York City, you may have a building with basement apartments, garden apartments, or plumbed basement common spaces, like laundry rooms. In these scenarios, having a sewage ejector pump (aka grinder pump) is essential for waste disposal. Grinder pump maintenance can ensure your pump doesn’t malfunction, which creates sewage problems for tenants and headaches for you. Here’s what you need to know about taking care of your waste disposal pump.

What Does a Grinder Pump Do?

Help with waste disposal

Throughout most of your property, the force of gravity assists with removing sewage and greywater from the building. When a tenant flushes a toilet or runs water in the sink, it moves from a higher area to a lower one until it joins the sewer main and the waste is carried into the city’s sewer system.

However, in low-lying spaces, gravity isn’t available to help with waste disposal because these areas are lower than the level of the sewer main. In that case, a sewage ejector pump assists with waste removal. The waste collects in a basin until a sensor indicates the basin is full. This activates the motor-driven pump to forcibly remove the waste and empty the basin.

Commonly, sewage ejector pumps have a grinding function, similar to a garbage disposal, that chops waste into a slurry to make removal easier. That’s why this device is often referred to as a grinder pump.

Most likely, your sewage grinder pump is located in the basement floor, in a hole similar to the ones used for sump pumps that drain excess rainwater out of low-lying spaces. The size of the pump basin and the horsepower of its motor are determined by how much demand is being placed on it, whether a small laundry room, for example, or several apartment units. Private single-family homes, brownstones, and duplexes also use these pumps frequently when living spaces lie below street level.

How Do You Maintain Your Sewage Ejector Pump?

Check alignment

Your grinder pump should have been installed perfectly vertically, perpendicular to the floor. Occasionally, these pumps get knocked out of alignment, so it’s worth eyeballing. A grinder pump that is tilted slightly at an angle and not level may not work properly, as the basin float sensor can get stuck.

Evaluate electrical components

Before working on your grinder pump, it’s smart to shut off the power supply to it in order to avoid possible electric shock. You can either unplug it or cut the power using the circuit breaker.

Check over the electrical parts looking for the following:

  • Frayed wires
  • Jiggly plugs
  • Loose attachments
  • Anything that looks worn or hazardous

All plugs should be three-pronged and run to three-prong electrical receptacles only. Hardwired pumps should have waterproof junction boxes.

Look for worn and loose parts

Next, look over the entire system, keeping an eye out for loose parts, wear and tear, and components that no longer fit correctly together. Notice any buildup of mineral scale from hard water or sediment. Mild accumulation can be cleaned with vinegar or lemon juice. Heavier amounts of buildup can indicate interior clogs, which warrant inspection by pump experts, as well as possibly a water filtration system to prevent future problems.

One place where you may see the most wear and tear is in the seals or gaskets around the basin or the vent that goes to the plumbing vent stack. Hardened or cracked seals won’t do their job any longer and must be replaced. Typically, you’ll notice leaks once a gasket stops working correctly.

Clean and remove clogs

Look for anything that could clog the entrance or exit of the pump, as well as the vent. Remove debris, as necessary, including anything blocking the pump impeller, the key piece of equipment in moving waste. Also, be sure the check valve in the discharge line is not clogged.

Make sure the basin is clean and not encrusted. Otherwise, the float that activates the pump motor can become stuck, causing the pump to either fail to operate or to run constantly (see below).

Apply lubricant as needed

Depending on your grinder pump’s model, you may need to apply oil. Lubricating the pump will keep it running longer, just like adding oil to your car’s engine. Some pumps also have bearings to reduce friction. Make note of any wear on the bearings, if you see them, but their replacement is best left to professionals.

What Are Signs That Your Grinder Pump Needs Attention?

Warning signs of pump failure

Routine maintenance is great, but your grinder pump may show signs of malfunction in between checks. Know these signs that something is wrong with a sewage ejector pump:

  • Pump operation triggers circuit breaker to cut power
  • Pump won’t run when it should or only runs sometimes
  • Pump runs continuously and won’t shut off
  • Pump makes loud or strange noise
  • Waste not being removed (remains or backs up in sinks, toilets, dishwashers, or clothes washers)
  • Sewage odors noticeable in parts of the building served by the pump

What Do Tenants Need to Know About Grinder Pumps?

Education is vital to function

One reason you may have clogs in your grinder pump – and a reason we make a lot of sewage pump service calls – is tenants putting inappropriate things down the drain. These materials aren’t meant to enter the sewer system and become caught in the pump. Therefore, it’s important to inform tenants what can and cannot go down the drain.

Food waste, cooking grease, oils, coffee grounds, feminine hygiene products, and diaper wipes are some of the biggest culprits. These items should never be flushed or rinsed down the sink. A drain cover that should be emptied into the garbage can help keep the sink clear. Childproof locks on toilet seats can prevent young kids from flushing things they shouldn’t, another common prompt for service calls to us and our partners at Sanitary Plumbing.

What Else Should You Know About Sewage Ejector Pumps?

Expert advice

Finally, here are a few pro tips about grinder pumps:

  • Consider using a duplex or two-pump system if you’re worried about overflow or loss of pump operation during repairs.
  • Keep the pump’s power supply away from moving parts, sharp edges, and the float assembly.
  • Talk to the pros at Antler Pumps about pump alarms that can alert you to problems before they spin out of control.

Need help cleaning or repairing a grinder pump in your property? Antler Pumps is here to help. Call us at 212-534-2500 or use our easy online form to schedule an appointment. We’re happy to assist with anything that’s outside your area of expertise, so your waste removal runs smoothly for you and your tenants.


Our Privacy Policy

Omnia Mechanical Group(the “Company”) strives to ensure the highest standards for property listings and customer information privacy. Please review the following statement to learn about our company practices and policies. Please be aware that our Privacy Policy is subject to change at any time.

1. Purpose.

This Privacy Policy (“the Policy”) provides information on how the Company uses your personal information. By agreeing to the Policy, you agree to our collection and use of your personal information as described in the Policy. This Privacy Policy is effective for all new users of Sanitaryplumbing.com.

2. Personal Information.

You can browse some areas of Antler.nyc (“the Website”) without being a registered user. However, certain activities do require registration. (You consent to the transfer and storage of your information by registering with Antler.nyc). We may collect and store the following personal information:

  • Name, email, address, telephone number, and (depending on the service used), move-in dates;
  • Transactional information (such as lease terms, lease parties);
  • Computer sign-on data, statistics on page views, and traffic to and from the Website; and
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3. Use of Information.

Our primary purpose in collecting personal information is to provide you with a safe and user-friendly experience. For example, the Company may use your personal information to:

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  • As otherwise described to you at the time of collection.

We may occasionally ask you to complete optional surveys. These surveys are used to improve and customize your experience with Sanitaryplumbing.com.

The Company always provides you the ability to opt-out of further communication such as promotions and surveys; see the Opt-Out section below.

The Company does not share any of your personal information with outside organizations, companies, individuals, etc. The only exception to this standard is if such a disclosure is reasonably necessary to respond to any and all legal processes.

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The Website may have links to other websites that may collect personally identifiable information about you. The Company is not responsible for the privacy practices of the content of those linked websites.

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The Website has strict security measures in place to protect you and your information from fraud. Once your information is provided to Antler Pump & Motor Corporation, we strive to ensure the confidentiality of your identity and information.

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The Company provides you with the opportunity to opt-out of receiving promotional and other non-essential, marketing-related communications from Antler Pump & Motor Corporation. If you would like to opt-out of these select communications, please see any of the Company’s email communications and follow the directions indicated.

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The Company does not guarantee the accuracy of information for any and all of its properties on the Website, and is not responsible for any errors or misrepresentations (made by Renters, the Client, or otherwise).

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Should your personal information change, please immediately update your information on the Website. This will ensure the accuracy of our records. The Company does retain personal information from closed accounts in order to comply with law and collect and disburse any fees owed.

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This Privacy Policy addresses only the use of information we collect from you. Since Antler.nyc does not control the privacy policies of third parties, you are subject to the privacy policies of those third parties. It is advisable that you consult with the management of third parties before you disclose your personal information to others.

12. General

We may amend this Privacy Policy at any time by posting the amended terms on the Website. All amended terms are immediately effective after they are initially posted on the Website.

13. Privacy Policy Questions & Concerns

Questions and/or concerns regarding the Policy should be emailed to the following email address: info@omniagroup.nyc.