Lift station basics
Lift stations are large concrete holes in the ground (typically round) that all of your waste drains into. Once the waste lands in your lift station and collects, powerful grinder pumps (redundancy is important) pump your waste up to the main city line. The pump is triggered by floats that turn on the pump much the same way as the float in your toilet turns off the water in your tank. Think of your lift station as a elevator for waste.
The central purpose of a lift station is to remove waste from your property by pumping waste from a site that is below grade up to a city sewer line.
What could possibly go wrong, and why?
Lift stations need very little maintenance when only “sanitary waste” goes in to them! But, if on the other hand, there is a grease trap attached to it or if there are folks cooking, cleaning and washing dishes that are attached to it (tenants), then you will have grease that is being introduced into your lift station (see pictures) right now. Once grease builds up on your floats and on your pumps your lift station will quit working properly and may damage your expensive pumps. A Pumping service is needed for immediate cleaning right now.
Damage to your pump(s) can be caused in a couple of ways. The first way is excessive trash on the floor of your lift station can cause damage to your pump(s). The second way is excessive grease can keep your float system from working properly and cause your pumps to continue running even after they have drained your pit, burning up the pump motor.
Why do I have a lift station?
Lift stations allow for the development of properties further away from city or MUD sewer lines. Sewer lines are typically already in the ground when your site is developed. If the city sewer line is higher that the lines on your property you will use a lift station to pump your waste up to the city main line and on to the treatment plant.
Cleaning is required when you start to see grease caking up on walls or floats. Once you see the first signs of grease floating in your lift station you need to start monitoring your lift station regularly to determine a cleaning schedule. Many apartment complexes find that a 90 day cleaning schedules keeps them from having problems. Others prefer to wait until a plumber is out fixing burned up pumps. Servicing your equipment regularly prevents problems!
What to look for when the lift station is clean.
Your lift station should be free of grease and debris on the bottom. Your equipment,floats and rails should be pressure washed and cleaned. If you are available you should inspect the bottom to make sure all of the debris is removed from the floor. Ask for a picture of the clean lift station if you are not available to look at it. Remember once the waste is removed there will be a waste manifest generated that you are required to keep for your records. Once the vacuum truck operator leaves your site with that waste he must dump it the waste somewhere. You should receive another copy of the manifest with a stamp from the disposal site it was dumped at. If you do not receive that second copy the waste may have been dumped illegally and you, the generator, are responsible for that waste cradle to grave.
NEW THIS YEAR!
The City of Houston in there infinite wisdom has decided to add yet another layer of bureaucracy to your already over burdened job! If you have a lift station inside the city you are now required to have it registered before it can be pumped out. We all know how this works, registration then becomes permitting then becomes annual permitting which becomes inspections, quarterly pumping then tickets (revenue) etc.
Cost of repairs
Repairs for burned up pumps can range from $7000 to $14,000 depending on the lift station. Proper cleaning is required to avoid these costs. If you do find yourself in the situation where you need pump work we have the name of a fantastic company that can help you out.