Omnia Mechanical Group

571 Timpson Place Bronx, NY 10455

Phone: 212-534-2500

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Sump or Sewage Pump Won’t Run? Pump Nuisances That Could Result in Safety Hazards or Property Damage

Many properties around New York City are outfitted with sump and/or sewage ejector pumps. If any part of your property is located below ground level or near the water table, you may have both types of pumps. While it may seem like a nuisance, a sump or sewage ejector pump not working can create hazards for you or your tenants. Here’s a review of how to know when those pumps aren’t operating properly and why it’s important to fix them right away.

Sump Pump Malfunctions and Hazards

What a sump pump does

A sump pump is a type of submersible pump that removes unwanted water from the interior of a property. Usually located in the basement or in low-lying areas of a property, a sump pump should come on automatically when water levels start to rise, usually due to a storm or rising water table nearby. A sensor in the pump’s basin triggers the pump to start working, and the water is channeled away from the dwelling or business to a safe place in the vicinity.

Warning signs of a sump pump failure

There are numerous ways to tell if your sump pump isn’t working, some more subtle than others:

  • The pump doesn’t come on at all in spite of rising water levels.
  • Your pump only runs intermittently, not always commensurate with the amount of water to be removed.
  • The sump pump runs continuously without shutting off, even when it doesn’t need to run.
  • The pump triggers your circuit breaker to cut power to its electrical supply.
  • The pump runs, but water isn’t being removed as it should be.

Why sump pump malfunctions spell disaster

The most obvious problem stemming from sump pump malfunction is that your property is susceptible to water damage. This can be catastrophic for landlords as well as single-family homeowners. Rental units may have to be vacated for remediation, which can result in a loss of income. You may wind up paying high insurance or repair costs, and you have to watch out for mold and mildew problems in the future.

Additionally, water coming into the property at a fast rate can cause safety hazards for occupants and building maintenance staff. The risk of electrical shock or problems with gas lines is always present. Therefore, it’s essential to shut off your electricity (and quite possibly your gas supply) if you have water spilling into the interior of the home until you can remove the water and fix the malfunctioning sump pump.

Solutions you can try on your own

Here are a few things you can attempt yourself or with other tradespeople before calling in the pump experts for help:

  • Make improvements to the property to mitigate stormwater and help channel it away from the building. The city has a program in place to help large property owners do this.
  • Ensure the pump is placed perfectly vertically in its location and not tipped to one side.
  • Check to see if the pump sensor is getting stuck on the side of the basin, preventing it from triggering the pump. You may have to move or even replace the sensor.
  • Make sure there aren’t any clogs in the line leading away from the pump or anything blocking the water where it’s eventually deposited away from your building.
  • Clean all the exterior parts of the pump to remove hard water mineral scale and accumulated sediment.
  • Hire a licensed electrician to fix any wiring issues related to the pump, whether that’s a frayed cord to the pump motor, an electrical panel problem, or other wiring concerns that need updating.

If these measures don’t work, it’s time to call Antler Pumps. We can look at the pump mechanics, including the switch and the interior parts of the pump that displace water, like the pump impeller. We’ll also clean up any mineral encrustation that could be clogging parts and check the pipe leading from the pump to make sure it’s clear. We also check to see that the pump is the right size and has been installed correctly for your unique property.

Signs and Consequences of a Sewage Ejector Pump Not Working

The purpose of your sewage ejector pump

A sewage ejector pump is also a pump installed in low-lying property areas. This pump’s job is to remove sewage and wastewater from toilets, sinks, and laundry rooms when the flow of gravity isn’t there to assist with its removal.

Sometimes, the pump will grind up the waste first, much like a garbage disposal. These pumps are known as sewage grinder pumps. Sewage ejector pumps have a basin to hold waste. When a sensor in the basin detects the basin is full, it triggers the pump to run and flush the waste into the sewer main at the street level.

How to know if your sewage ejector pump is failing

It’s usually pretty clear when a sewage pump isn’t running correctly, as in the first few signs listed below:

  • Waste is obviously not removed from sinks and toilets.
  • You may see waste or brown water backing up into fixtures.
  • Sewage or garbage odors are detectable in the property’s interior.
  • The pump makes loud or unusual noises when it runs.
  • The grinder pump sounds like it’s running, but it’s not grinding waste.
  • The pump doesn’t turn on when it should or only works sometimes.
  • The sewage pump runs continuously, even when it’s not needed.
  • The circuit breaker is triggered, cutting electrical power when the pump comes on.

Dangers of sewage pump malfunction

Sewage ejector pump failure poses a health hazard, whether in your own home or in a tenant’s unit. If you are a landlord, you are required to provide a hygienic atmosphere for tenants. The buildup of waste is not only unpleasant; it can also spread germs, including both viruses and bacteria.

If a sewage pump fails long enough, backed-up waste can overflow into the property’s interior, causing water damage and expense, and posing an even more costly cleanup. A loud pump can disturb tenants and their neighbors. Having the circuit breaker triggered may mean tenants are without electrical power for other functions in the home, depending on how the pump is wired (it’s usually best if it has its own circuit, but that’s not always possible in older properties).

Your best solutions for sewage ejector pump problems

You can try to resolve some sewage ejector pump issues on your own before placing a service call. Try these tips first to see if they fix the problem:

  • Clean the basin completely, and ensure that the pathway for waste removal isn’t clogged.
  • Check to make sure the sensor to automatically trigger the pump isn’t stuck. It may need to be adjusted or replaced.
  • Assess the wiring to the pump’s motor, looking for frayed cords, loose wires, and the like. An electrician can help if your problem is due to wiring or your electrical panel.

Also, it’s best to prevent sewage ejector pump problems before they start by educating tenants about what can and cannot be disposed of in their drains. They should not put grease, cooking oils, food waste, baby wipes, or feminine hygiene products in the drain. These should instead go into other waste receptacles to be removed with the trash. Of course, regular pump maintenance goes a long way toward keeping your pumps running in top condition, too.

If trying the steps above doesn’t work, you may need Antler Pumps to come by for an evaluation of the pump. After checking to make sure it’s properly installed and the right size for the demand placed on it, we’ll look at the switch and the pump components, including the motor, to see if it can be repaired. On some occasions, the pump has simply reached the end of its useful life, and it’s time to install a new model, which we can also do for you.

Need help with your sump pump or sewage ejector pump? Don’t wait for a dangerous situation to get in touch. Call Antler Pumps at 212-534-2500, or use our easy online form to schedule a service call at your convenience.


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