5 Things To Know About Your Grinder Pump

SAINT LOUIS, MO (May 30, 2022) – The grinder pump is a vital part of your home’s waste-disposal system. It works like a kitchen sink garbage disposal by breaking down waste solids so they travel easily through pipes. Grinder pumps grind up and then pump waste through the sewer feeder line to the collecting sewer main that leads to the facility where your community’s wastewater is treated. Without a grinder pump, pipes would get clogged and wastewater could back up into homes.

Where is your grinder pump? It is located within a submerged holding tank buried in your yard near an outer wall of your home, where it collects waste from your home’s plumbing system. To find it, look outside for the holding tank cover, typically a hard green plastic disk roughly the width of a volleyball. Below that green cover is your grinder pump grinding and pumping away.

Here are five common questions about how grinder pumps work answered by the experts at CSWR:

Can the grinder pump handle any material I want to put in it?

No, it cannot! Grinder pumps safely break down waste from your bath, laundry and toilet, but there are many materials it cannot handle, including: cooking grease, wet wipes, diapers, feminine hygiene products, birth control products, cat litter, napkins, paper towels, cosmetic face wipes, plastic, glass, metal, cloth, oil, gasoline, rock and any corrosive chemicals.

As a rule of thumb, consider this: If your kitchen garbage disposal can’t handle it, assume your grinder pump can’t, either.

Where is the control panel for the grinder pump?

You already know the grinder pump is submerged in a holding tank near an outer wall of your home. The grinder pump is controlled by a panel fixed on the outside of your home. To find it, look at the outer wall of your home near where the grinder pump is buried. The control panel will have a small red alarm light to alert you to issues.

What is “hand” mode?

Grinder pumps have three modes of operation: Hand, Off, or Auto. Set to “Auto”, your grinder pump will automatically turn on when the level of wastewater within the tank is raised to a certain height and turn off when the wastewater level goes back down. The “Hand” setting allows residents to manually operate the unit, and “Off” disables the unit.

How do I help to keep it maintained?

CSWR recommends inspecting your grinder pump unit on a semi-annual basis by lifting the lid of the holding tank and washing any debris that has accumulated on the inner walls with a garden hose. After that, use the hose to fill up the tank and let the system pump the water level back down before automatically shutting off. This preventative maintenance should extend the longevity of the device and give customers an opportunity to detect previously unseen issues.

What happens if the power goes out?

Grinder pumps function on the same electrical grid power as your other home appliances. For this reason, any power outage affecting your home will result in a nonfunctional grinder pump. In the event of a power outage, water usage should be minimized as much as possible, as excessive usage could fill the holding tank and cause sewage backups into homes.

If you experience any issues with your grinder pump system, please contact our customer support team.

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