Looking for plumber in Chicago with ejector pit experience

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & ' started by curious_george, Mar 27, 2014.

  1. curious_george

    curious_george New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Looking for plumber in Chicago with ejector pit/catch basin experience

    I have asked questions here but I feel I need an experienced plumber physically out here to help me with ideas and/or perform the work.

    I have an ejector pit of a house I just moved into that is not vented & am simply looking to get it vented to reduce the significant sewer gas infiltration within the house. I don't know if the pit also serves as a sump for groundwater. Please PM me if you can help or know of someone who would - I don't want to crowd the forum with unintelligent questions.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  2. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    622
    Location:
    NC
    You could adjust the pump floats so the water is not pumped down so far. Your tank may still be connected to the sewer and when the liquid is pumped down below the bottom of the square mass/ baffle, sewer gas enters the building. The outlet trap does two things, it prevents sewer gas from entering the building and it prevents grease that is floating on top of the water from going out into the sewer. If the tank is connected to the sewer, why was a pump installed?
  3. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,631
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Smooky, you are referring to a grease interceptor, NOT an ejector pit, and interceptors do not have "pumps". As for the original question, a vent on the ejector would probably NOT cure the symptoms, because even if it is not vented, unless the vent opening is not sealed, the odors should not be able to escape into the house. And, as a practical matter, since the fixtures SHOULD be vented, their vents would also vent the pit. Therefore, you either have an improper installation, of some type, or the pit's cover is not sealed.
  4. Smooky

    Smooky Member

    Messages:
    622
    Location:
    NC
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  5. curious_george

    curious_george New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    The tank level never goes below the bottom of the square baffle; the baffle exterior always has water about halfway.

    The water level in the tank does not fluctuate that much after a pump. At the highest water level in the tank, it's about an inch above the top of the inlet for the bathroom. At the lowest water level (right after a pump) it's about 2 inches below the inlet, but then all the water in the inlet comes in and it's right back at about a half inch above the bottom point of the inlet. Then some water starts flowing into the inlet from the tank. Inlet looks to be maybe 3 inches. So that means the inlet from the bathroom is always partially filled with air & water.

    And I don't know if the tank is connected to the building drain behind the baffle. I guess let me block the bathroom inlet & fill the tank & see if it starts to drain out of the baffle.

    I was told this is an ejector pit because it has a sewage ejector in it. I'm not sure if this was originally a grease interceptor as you say & then converted to an ejector pit once a bathroom was added to the basement. The lid is a flat piece of acrylic or plastic that just sits on top of the pit and has a hole for the discharge and a hole for the furnace condensate line. It's not sealed. I don't see how the fixtures can be venting for the ejector if their drain lines are always filled with water.

    May be - there are just too many variables for me to figure out without experience. And even with experience, I'm sure there are multiple hypotheses as to what's actually down there.
  6. curious_george

    curious_george New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    We had rain yesterday so I did an experiment - in the morning, emptied the pit fully. By evening, pit was full with very oily water. The baffle does have water dripping out of it at the bottom, and the inlet for the bathroom also had a slow trickle of water coming out of it that just didn't seem to stop. So I've either got a sewer line or a groundwater drain line coming into this pit from somewhere. Still looking to hire someone who wants to take a look & tell me how this pit works.
  7. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,631
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote;
    The water level in the tank does not fluctuate that much after a pump. At the highest water level in the tank, it's about an inch above the top of the inlet for the bathroom. At the lowest water level (right after a pump) it's about 2 inches below the inlet, but then all the water in the inlet comes in and it's right back at about a half inch above the bottom point of the inlet. Then some water starts flowing into the inlet from the tank. Inlet looks to be maybe 3 inches. So that means the inlet from the bathroom is always partially filled with air & water.

    I may have to find that other posting to see the picture, but a "proper" ejector basin does NOT have a baffle, it DOES have a metal lid with sealed openings in it, the water level NEVER reaches the inlet pipe, much less covers it, and the water level should fluctuate from a high point lower than the inlet pipe to a point just above the base of the ejector pump. Based on these "requirements" it does not appear that you have a properly installed ejector pit, and it is hard to tell what you do have without seeing it.
  8. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,631
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    Well, I saw the other posting and the picture and I am baflled. That pit is unlike any I have EVER seen. The "baffle" is neither removable nor does it have a cleanout, one of which would be required for any type of sewage vessel. It does not have a bolted, sealed, lid which means it is not, nor ever was, and ejector basin meant for a bathroom drain. If the bathroom drain enters the pit through that baffle/trap, then it has serious issues. The closest thing I have seen to something like this would be a cast iron "catch basin" for kitchen sinks, but even they had a cleanout in the baffle and a sealed cover. That last picture does conform to the common Chicago indoor catch basins,, ( although most of them were outside and made of brick). In any case, the inlet HAD to be higher than the outlet which was covered by the trap baffle.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  9. curious_george

    curious_george New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks; that confirms what I suspected - that the inlet should be dry unless it is draining into the pit.

    The bathroom, utility sink, and floor drains do enter the pit via the 3 or 4 inch inlet pipe on the side of the cast iron basin. It may be hard to see, but there a round shape at the top of the baffle that could possibly be a cleanout. Also, the kitchen sink is right above the pit. That's why I'm thinking I had a cast iron catch basin where the kitchen waste originally dropped down into the basin from above and floor drains also entered the basin below the concrete, and the basin drained into the building drain by gravity (with a grease trap/baffle over the outlet). Then I think years later, someone came along and added the bathroom to the basement, and hooked it into the floor drain inlet pipe and stuck a sewage ejector in the catch basin. They removed the kitchen waste line from entering the basin and now the kitchen waste goes directly to the building drain (through the concrete foundation below-grade). The ejector discharge also pumps into this same pipe, kind of like a "y" shape (kitchen drain + ejector discharge ==> building drain).

    If that's the case, I probably still have an open sewer outlet behind that baffle. I need to kill the pump & keep pouring water in the basin to see if the water starts draining.

    I found the 1922 Chicago municipal code which did mention catch basins. It says I would have needed a manhole-type cover:

    All I wanted was a vented/sealed pit & it's turning to be something funky, so I just want to make sure there's an accurate assessment before changing anything.
  10. wjcandee

    wjcandee Wise One

    Messages:
    1,852
    Location:
    New York, NY
    Did anyone recommend our friend SewerRatz yet? I think Ron specializes in exactly this stuff in Chicago.
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2014
  11. blkwtr

    blkwtr New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    Chicago
    Curious George,

    I PM'd you

    ManWithTheYellowHat
  12. MACPLUMB 777

    MACPLUMB 777 TROJAN WORLDWIDE SALES RP

    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Houston, Texas, United States
    so did i with the sewerratz contact info
  13. curious_george

    curious_george New Member

    Messages:
    13
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    Thanks, we'll see if we can get to the bottom of this!
  14. Gib

    Gib New Member

    Messages:
    9
    Location:
    IL
    Licensed chicago plumber

    I stumbled across this by accident. Anyway I see a lot of speculation going on. From what I gather you have a pit being utilized wrong. In Chicago you may have a sump pit for drain tile/subsoil drains, Nothing else. Sumps for residential do NOT have to be vented. Typically in a Chicago basement if you have a bathroom, kitchen, floor drains i.e. you must use a ejector pit. Basically its a flood control device. Nothing from ANY other level above can be plumbed into it. Ejector pit MUST be vented. Minimum 2" Wet venting is illegal in Chicago. But that changes when your out of chicagoland. The Illinois plumbing code allows it but with restrictions. Discharge pipe must be sized according to drainage fixture units. Minimum 2" pipe is required. Basically in residential 2" pipe is sufficient without getting into to much detail. The discharge pipe MUST have a check valve between the pump and the gravity drainage system and accessible. PVC IS ILLEGAL for underground in Chicago and minimum 4". You can use 2" for vents only but be careful of the developed length.

    So for you curious George, your existing pit which is actually a oil separator pit from the pics I saw. 1st time I seen that in a house. But lets not get hung up on that. I read in one the responses when it rains water enters the pit and you stated your 1st floor kitchen is somehow plumbed into this. Also I saw some sort of generic tube going into the pit, I'll take a stab and say that's coming from your furnace. That's bad on many levels, you and your family could actually get sick from that. My suggestion is treat this pit like a sump pit. The 1st floor kitchen drain should be replumbed into the gravity sewer(house drainage system). Redirect tube to a floor drain if possible or bucket,not really a fan of but lets work with what we can. Install gas tight lid on existing pit. This should take of your immediate problems from the information I have read. If your going to move forward installing any basement plumbing fixtures bathroom, kitchen, laundry, floor drain install a ejector pit and plumb ONLY into ejector pit. And please make sure that ejector pit is vented along with ALL plumbing fixture. ALL plumbing fixtures MUST be individually vented including floor drains. Hope this helps. And make sure what ever plumber you use is a licensed plumber, its the law in Chicago and thoughtout the state of IL
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2014
Similar Threads: Looking plumber
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Looking for a creative (and pet friendly) plumber Sep 30, 2013
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Looking into the best way to start as Licensed Plumber... Jan 17, 2011
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Looking for plumber willing to work on septic tank for a trailer Dec 21, 2009
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & looking for Seattle Area plumber for consultation Jan 11, 2008
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice, Tips & Pros and cons....Uniforms for a more professionial looking plumber. Jun 30, 2007

Share This Page