6 posts / 0 new
Last post
Lift Station Smell

I recently purchased a house that has a finished basement. The new basement includes a full bathroom. A lift station was installed underneath the vanity to accomodate the new fixtures. From what I can see is the top of a 55 gallon drum that collects the sink, toilet, and shower waste through pipes that I assume run into the side of the tank. The tank has been set into the floor. On the top there are two pipes coming out of the lid. One is the sewage exit line with a backflow fitting and the other is a vent. I recently had family visiting that used the bathroom during their stay. Since they left, there has been a sewage smell coming from the tank. When I flush the toilet, I can hear the pump come on but it only comes on for a few seconds.

What can I do to fix the problem? It doesnt look like the lid is sealed to the top of the tank. Both of the pipes coming out of the tank have rubber compression fittings which I could losen to take the lid off? Is there some type of addative I can add to help this and does this seem to be a typical type of installation? I recently added Rid-X typically used in septic tanks. Could the long times between use without visitors cause a problem? Any advice would be appreciated!

Re: Lift Station Smell

Will try to put this as "delicately" as possible. :)

Can't help but wonder from your description if one of your guests didn't flush alot of TP or even a couple paper towels or maybe a feminine hygiene product...that has landed on top of the float. This would weight it down making it less buoyant resulting in the shorter pumping times you indicate and consequently more "aged & aromatic" contents inside the tank.

Were there any kids in the guest party? Kids will flush most anything just to see what happens.

A little *exploration* may be in order.

On the other hand....are you implying that this is the first time this system was used? If so, there could be other reasons for the problem....including a faulty installation.

The lid should be fastened to the tank via one means or another....including a gasket or similar. If it's just sitting there loose/wobbly-like...something isn't right.

Re: Lift Station Smell

There were no kids in the party. I filled the tub and let it drain into the tank and still the pump only come on for a couple of seconds at a time. The system is not brand new but was not in use for a couple of months. I think I am going to pull off the lid and see what is going on inside.

Re: Lift Station Smell

Thinking this over a bit more....it *may* be that you have a small tank with a high volume output pump and so the pump may only need to run a few seconds at a crack.

However, if you're getting an odor from the tank ...something isn't right. It may be nothing more than the lack of sealant or a gasket for the lid.

Impossible to say from here what the problem(s) might be, but sure sounds like something is not quite right.

The short pumping cycles *might* also be related to the float switch having come loose from its intended attachment point or similar. If/when you open things up, do some "fill and pump" cycles withthe tank open so you can see what physically goes on in there.

A missing gasket can usually be replaced with a bead of silicone caulk in which the lid is then bedded. Although this is not he handiest arrangement for future entry, it will seal the tank lid. An alternative would be to lay the bead of silicone and then quickly place some pieces of saran-wrap over the caulk, then gently bed the tank lid on that. Once the silicone is fully set up, you should be able to lift the lid, remove the saran-wrap and then seat the lid directly on the caulk. Then place the perimeter screws to tighten things down.

Can't help but wonder if the vent pipe is properly vented and migth be the source of the foul odors. Likely is, but one never knows for sure. I've seen some very goofy shortcuts taken which couldn't possible work right...and didn't.

I suppose there is also a chance that one of the associated DWV pipes has a crack or hole in it from an errant screw. All sorts of things could cause the problem odors you're experiencing.

Blue RidgeParkway
Re: Lift Station Smell

i'd also check that check valve connection. if something such as the items mentioned above (especially strings or hair) didn't clear the line past its apex and fell back behind the backflow valve's door flapper, it may have a partial clog on the exit side behind where that flapper door opens, and prevents it from opening all the way and when the pump flow encounters that resistance the pump might be shutting down. above it should be going up higher then where it makes a bend to the horizontal then turn down to fall or drain into the horizontal pipe before it exits if it is plummed right that is the next place i'd check for a clog or obstruction after first checking out the backflow valve area.

also if that check valve is one of those rubber types with compression bands on the outside, sometimes they need to be tightened if loose there can be a leak, or the rubber itself expands or cracks and small leaks develop after long periods where it was allowed to dry out if you have chlorinated water this can happen much faster than if you don't (or if you use a lot of chlorine bleach products to clean with or put a chlorine toilet freshing thing in toilet). might be all in the tank chamber is working as it should but there could be a slight leak at that valve connection that is spilling or dripping down on the backside of the exit pipe and that might be the source of the odor.

i'm not so sure about using a composting aid like rid-x in the ejection tank you want that tank to empty the waste solids and liquids blended after each use not retain it and let it seperate, otherwise you'll have difficulty ejecting the settled solids and the 'floater layer'. sometimes you have to give things a good stir and jet it clean, stir, pump, repeat a few times if you've had a problem - bleach, gloves, mask and a jet nozle might be helpful, protect your eyes from splashes too. sometimes hair, strings or other get caught up in the works and you have to start tearing down the pump station to clear it you should get the manual for it, owners manual trouble shooting, maintenance and install guide could be very helpful to you.

does your pit/pump have a grinder or does the toilet? have you checked the pump's screen?

Sponsored Stories

TV Listings

Find TV listings for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.