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What is a Grinder Pump?

A grinder pump works like a household garbage disposal, but on a larger scale. It grinds up wastewater produced in your home (i.e. toilet use, shower, washing machine, etc.) and pumps it into the public sewer system.


How does a grinder pump work?

A grinder pump is placed in a tank (or well) that is buried in a convenient outdoor location on a homeowner’s property (grinder pump units also can be purchased for inside installation). The tank provides wastewater holding storage capacity. When water is used in the house, wastewater flows into the tank. When the wastewater in the tank reaches a pre-set level, the grinder pump automatically turns on, grinds the waste, and pumps it out of the tank via the homeowner’s on-site sewer service line and into the public sewer system. A grinder pump will normally run for one or two minutes and automatically turn off when the tank is emptied. The pump is powered by electricity and is connected to a control panel near your electric meter.


Why do some homes/businesses need grinder pumps?

In most instances, wastewater flows by gravity from a home/business’ on-property sewer service line to a public sewer main where it travels to wastewater treatment plants. At the plants, the wastewater is cleaned, disinfected and safely returned to the environment. However, because of elevation, gravity may not work in all instances. In situations where a home/business’ sewer service line leaves the building at a lower elevation than the public sewer main, a grinder pump is sometimes used to grind and pump wastewater to the main. 


Who is responsible for the grinder pump?

Grinder pumps are the responsibility of Union Rome Sewer. The property owner is responsible for the private sewer service line that serves the home or business owner’s property. 


What can I do to protect my grinder pump?

A properly maintained grinder pump should be able to handle wastewater from the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc. However, some chemicals and substances can adversely impact a grinder pump and may cause safety hazards. Please check the labels on all chemicals before using / disposing. Also, never pour the following items down drains or flush down toilets:

  • Grease (a byproduct of cooking that comes from meat fats, oils, shortening, butter, margarine, food scraps, sauces and dairy products);
  • Explosive or flammable material;
  • Kitty Litter;
  • Aquarium gravel;
  • Strong Chemicals or toxic, caustic or poisonous substances;
  • Degreasing solvents;
  • Diapers, feminine products, or cloth of any kind;
  • Fuel or lubricating oil, paint thinner of antifreeze;
  • Plastic objects; and
  • Seafood Shells.

These items can damage the grinder pump and its controls, cause blockages and backups and may create unsafe conditions in your lines and tank. Also, never connect a sump pump to sewer lines. Doing so decreases the sewer mains’ flow capacity while increasing wastewater treatment costs. In the case of a grinder pump, a sump pump connected to the sewer system may raise your electric rates and shorten the life of your grinder pump. 

The homeowner shall be responsible to maintain the ground around the pump basin so that the ground is sloped enough to prevent rainfall from pooling next to the basin and entering the lid or vent.  Grinder pumping systems are designed to handle wastewater that is normally discharged to the sewer from the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry. However, rainwater draining into the grinder pump basin may overload the system and cause slower pumping rates which may potentially create sewage back-ups.  The connection of sump pumps to the public sewer system is prohibited.  Inflow from sump pumps, downspouts, and foundation drains are disallowed and may also overload grinder pumping systems.