Replace basement sewage ejector system

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by mz4wheeler, Sep 30, 2005.

  1. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Replace basement sewage ejector system - FIXED!!

    I have a house that is 30 years old, on a spectic system, and has a basement that is below the septic line. There is an existing sewage ejector system:

    Mfg: Enpo Cornell
    Model: 224
    Type: 2
    1/2HP
    Symplex

    The existing tank apprears to have been serviced many times and seems to be rusted. The top access cover doesn't seem to close properly because of rusty bolts. There also seems to be a fowl odor present that my wife can't stand. Basically, I want to replace the whole works.

    It appears to be round, 24 inches in diameter, I can't tell it's depth, and SEEMS to be in a concrete casing. The top of the tank seems to be about 3 inches below the concrete line.

    Questions:

    1) How easy (or hard) will it be to replace the whole works?
    2) There must be an input, can I remove the old tank without destroying the input lines?
    3) Is it possible that JUST the top of tank is 24 inches, where the actual tank is smaller in diameter.
    4) Will I be able to detach the input before I take out the tank?
    5) Will I have to bust up concrete to take out the tank?
    6) Can I unbolt the input from the inside of the tank

    Regarding the replacement tank. Recommendations? Can I use a smaller diameter tank or do I have to have the same 24 inch diameter model.

    --or-- Am I way over my head and I should just call a plumber [grin]

    Mike
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2005
  2. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    26,815
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    ejector

    Questions:

    1) How easy (or hard) will it be to replace the whole works?
    DarkGreen]Probably hard

    2) There must be an input, can I remove the old tank without destroying the input lines?
    Yes, but read further.

    3) Is it possible that JUST the top of tank is 24 inches, where the actual tank is smaller in diameter.
    The tank itself is 18" in diameter.

    4) Will I be able to detach the input before I take out the tank?
    That is what has to be done, but the input is fastened to the tank from the outside. Keep reading.

    5) Will I have to bust up concrete to take out the tank?
    Definitely. You have to get down to the inlet pipe and unfasten it. The degree of doing that will depend on what kind of connection was made.

    6) Can I unbolt the input from the inside of the tank
    NO!

    Regarding the replacement tank. Recommendations? Can I use a smaller diameter tank or do I have to have the same 24 inch diameter model.
    That will be the smallest size you will find for a "proper" ejector tank.

    --or-- Am I way over my head and I should just call a plumber [grin]
    Probably, but he might suggest just replacing the lid and verifying that all the connections to the lid are tight and sealed.

    Mike[/QUOTE]
  3. leave it be

    dont fool with the thing....

    all you got to do is buy yourself a new lid whhich

    you can get a generic lid anywyere from any

    plumbing outlet....

    then all you got to do is install a new ZOELLER pump

    and fit the pump to your new lid....

    the bolts might be rusted up and all and they never work again..

    we have to literally chizel off these bolts all the time........

    but all you got to do is re-seal the lid down with 3-4 tubes of silicone

    and youi are good to go... just lay it on thick


    we run into this all the time and simply cannot make the bolts work

    anymore, so you do what you got to do , to win the big battle

    and clear silicone or siliconized caulk really works great to

    completely seal all the smells into the pit....


    I would do this first befoer you really make a god-awful mess

    for yourself ....... which you dont want...

    Honestly , I dont think any plumber in his right mind would

    even attempt to do what you are thinking about...


    so try thhis "less invasive" approach first.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 1, 2005
  4. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    [sigh].. This thing is 30 years old, so there is no way I could buy a replacement lid. Also, it looks as though there are no bolts around the edges. The bolts seems to form about a 12" oval shaped access plate.

    All of the generic lids won't fit this thing. SInce I don't want to worry about this thing fro the next 30 years, it's better if I replace it now. The thing I fear is sewage leaking into the concrete casing, thern it will stink forever.

    Thanks for the advice!

  5. good luck, your gonna need it

    do what ever gives you the warm fuzzies....


    I would personally call some plumbers out and ask their
    opinions before you start breaking up that sewage pit....
    because thats certanily going to be one hell of a nasty mess

    breaking up a concrete pit that has been submerged and immulsified
    in raw sewage for decades is not for the faint of heart....
    when you break it up in pieces, it is literally going to splatter
    everywhere and on everyone...

    If I absolutely had to do that job, I would probably consider wearing a haz-mat suit to keep clean

    why not just go swimming in a septic tank??

    Remember, once you have damaged it , then you are gonna be
    in it up to your eyebrows till the bitter , bitter end... and this could be
    about as mean as any normal plumber would ever take on....


    way , way , way above and beyond the call of duty......
    -------------------------------------------------------
    you are not gonna find a lot of people willing to tackle
    something this nasty --only the real dummies.

    especially when really all you probably got to do is use
    a little ingenuity and have a sheet metal man
    make you a special pre-fabricated lid..... NO BIG DEAL



    Dont start this project unless you are man enough to finish
    it yourself, because once you have screwed it all up and
    you need help, I doubt you will find many people willing to
    come to yoru rescue and bail you out at a fair price....

    then you are gonna pay through
    the nose to find someone to get you out of the mess you
    have made.... and you dont want that to happen either.......


    I guarantee that you arent gonna get
    me to do it...I am not that hungry
    I would not even bid that job.

    just remember the saying

    "fools rush in where wize men fear to tread"

    that saying certanly applies here,


    So I would really think this through if I were you...

    because you could have yourself over a month long event on your hands
    with your wife jumping up and down about the smell and the mess....

    getting a special lid made cant be that difficult and a couple tubes
    of silicone to seal that down is cheap , cheap , cheap...

    Respectfully, take the easy path first, if it dont work out good
    then take the stupid one....
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2005
  6. Warm Fuzzies

    I got them once working on a sewage ejector pump replacement. Dry skin on an elbow started it all when I elbowed down on what I thought was a clean surface which was my foam pad. Sewage must of splattered on it and the rest was a doctor's visit and a Rx for an infection. Unexpected but the warm fuzzies had me thinking about charging more for the next sewage pump replacement. :D
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2005
  7. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Hmmm... Well, all of this has be reconsidering the whole job [grin]... I've attached two photos of what I'm talking about.

    A REAL plumber is coming over today to look at it. Hopefully he's one of those "beginners" [grin].

    Mike

  8. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    I put that "great stuff" on the top of the tank to seal some of the smell... And this really helped alot. But still............... [grin].

    Attached Files:

  9. looks pretty mean

    that looks pretty wicked to me.....

    change the pump put a new lid on it and re-seal it
    with the sealer of your choice

    and just forget
    any dreams of anyone doing that nasty job for you...


    in my town that would be worth about
    1000 just to change out the pump
    and rig up a new lid to work . Some might even
    be as high as 1500.
  10. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    [Getting a little scared]... Are you suggesting that the sewage pit is just a concrete pit and with a metal lid? Can you tell from the photo if this is a metal tank? I assumed that it was.

    When these things were installed 30 years ago did they just dig a big hole below the basement, put the tank in, and back fill concrete in all sides? There seems to be a small gap between the side of the tank and the concrete. if the tank was sank in the hole with concrete back-filled it may be real hard to remove.

    From the photo you can see that the top of the tank appears to be about 3" below the concrete line, so it looks like the concete was pre-formed into a 24" circle, and the tank was lowered into it, or maybe not.

    I can't seem to find any information about this particular tank. I'd sure like to get a spec sheet in the original tank so I can make a final decision.

    Mfg: Enpo Cornell
    Model: 224
    Type: 2
    1/2HP

    Where can I get info on this?

    I REALLY appreciate all this input, it's great to have expert opinions
  11. leave sleeping smelly dogs lie.

    who knows what its made of ....
    probably plastic with a lid....

    if its made of concrete its more of a commerical
    type of unit and not to me messed with.....


    its simply best to leave it alone and make repairs to it as
    needed .....

    you got to be nuts to fool with it either way....

    just repair it for 1000 and forget about it.........

    it will last you another 20-30 years ,
    what more could you ask???

    you are not going to serve dinner on it , right??

    So as long as your wife cant smell it, forget about it.
    ------------------------------------------------------


    I would not even attempt to tear that out

    and if I absolutely HAD to give you a price, I would certanly

    make it a very high one just to make it worth my pain and suffering.

    and hopefully scare you into changeing your mind.

    how about $6500


    you could simply repair that unit 5+ times
    or more for that kind of money.
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2005
  12. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Replace basement sewage ejector system - FIXED!!

    Well, after receiving advice on this forum and a so-called "plumber" who visited my house and chickened out, I decided to tackle this job myself. I knew that it wouldn't be easy, and it took me a LONG time to finally decide once and for all to tackle this nasty job. A few considerations:

    1) I was already in the process of remodeling the basement. Walls were already ripped apart, etc. I actually STOPPED working on the rest of the basement, pondering on what to do about this old, smelly ejector system.

    2) I already "sealed" the septic ejector with "great stuff" foam, which did an excellent job of sealing *MOST* of the smell.

    3) This is a "deam house" for myself and my wife, waterfront, 4300 square feet, and so far all the improvements I've done were first class. I'm trying to do things right, and not half-ass.

    4) I didn't want to fork out $2000 (or so) to a plumber to a job (In MY mind) that I could accomplish myself, although my wife was EXTREMELY SCARED of me tackling this job myself.

    5) It STILL smelled, even after I sealed it with that "great stuff" sealing foam.

    6) I didn't want to be haunted 5 years later when the pump failed and I have to once again relive all these septic ejector issues.

    PLANNING:
    I knew that it would be a messy, smelly job, so I placed an exhaust fan in the bathroom window (the ejector is in the bathroom closet) that constantly blew OUT, minimizing smell. This worked PERFECTLY!

    I knew that I would need to use a hand truck (to wheel out the pump and tank) and I would also need to use a wheel barrow, so I removed doors leading outside.

    I also knew that the floor would be all messy, so I bought the 2 foot wide plastic rolls with sticky stuff on the bottom. I "protected" the carpet and floor with this sticky plastic, doubled, leading out of the house. This allowed me to make a mess of the floor, and not harm our NEW carpet in the house. I pictured in my mind this disgusting tank DRIPPING of sewage as I hand trucked it out of the house. It DID! And the plastic saved a big mess!

    I also knew that I would have to somehow LIFT the old tank out, which was stuck in the mud for 30 years. I drilled holes in the rafters and attached a come-along hand hoist so I could lift the tank. This also worked.

    I manually rigged the ejector motor and drained the tank as far as it could until I could hear the pump sputter. I then closed the gate valve to allow me to disconnect the pump. I knew that I would have to cut the ejector ABS piping about 40" high later so I could remove the tank so I bought a 2" cap

    However, I really didn't know which direction the input to the tank was. Was the direction from the toilet (no problem) or from the shower. Or, (worse)were there multiple inputs? This was a problem because on one direction there was beautiful marble flooring, and I wasn't willing to destroy. After removing the tank lid (with the hoist) and hand trucking the old smelly pump out of the house, I saw what I wanted to see. A single input contained in the closet area. I also verified that the depth of the tank matched my new tank, and it inlet depth was roughly the same... 10 inches of so.

    I was ready to go to phase 2. JACK HAMMERING!

    This was a lonely feeling. I still haven't reached the point of no return... YET, but when we finally exposed the input pipes, I was able to see the SOURCE of the SMELL. Corroded INLETS!!! The sewage was mostly going into the tank, but some was LEACHING into the surrounding soil around the tank. No wonder the tank SMELLED!!!! After my father-in-law used a large crow bar and punched holes in the side of the tank to jar it loose... THATS when I knew I reached the POINT OF NO RETURN. There was no turning back now. Onward ho... etc.

    Now there was a BIG problem. We couldn't remove the tank unless we somehow disconnected the inlet pipe. We tried, but it was impossible. After a couple of hours of futzing around, we took a small hand grinder and cut a slit in the metal couplings and a crow bar separated the inlet couplings (see photo). We were then able to disconnect the inlets... Finally.

    We were now able to lift the tank out, but because we live on the water the watertable of the house was really high. The tank was locked into the soil/mud by suction. It was also heavy because as we were working on freeing the inlets, water was busy SEEPING into the tank.

    This was the REAL NASTY PART. I had to empty the tank using a small bucket, face to face with the nasty, disgusting sludge 30 years in the making. Absolutely one of the most disgusting things I had to do in my life!!! My father-in-law wisely watched and smiled whilst I emptied the tank into an old plastic garbage can, and carefully hand-trucked it out of the house.

    We were able to lift the tank only by allowing air into the bottom of the tank by punching a hole in the bottom. Once we did that the tank lifted out using the hoist.

    Whew... That was the hard part. I've attached photos for your amusement and for anyone who wants to try this job themselves. It was a great feeling of satisfaction that I was able to do this job myself for about $400, which included renting the jack hammer for 4 hours ($50). Better yet, my wife and I are able to relax and know that the septic ejector system will be fine for the next 30 years w/o any worries.. Peace of mind, and finally no SMELL!

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2005
  13. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Replace basement sewage ejector system - FIXED!!

    More photos

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2005
  14. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Replace basement sewage ejector system - FIXED!!

    More photos. Thats it!

    Mike

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 19, 2005
  15. Looks like you did a quality job for a fraction of the price of hiring it out. I will say you have a really nice lakefront property. I have to say......I do not think I would even tackle a job like that anymore; with me being 86 years old I think my body would just hop in the hole and need covering up. Spend about 10 bucks and install one of those battery operated alarms with the sensor prods that you can peel and stick to that lid on top; build a damn around it so that if the pump fails, it will let you know before it damages everything around it. Great Job! :)
  16. mz4wheeler

    mz4wheeler New Member

    Messages:
    22
    Wow. Building a DAM is a great idea!!! I did some experimenting on what would happen if the motor failed. I unplugged it and flushed the toilet a few times. It eventually failed to flush and backed up at the toilet. The lid was fine.

    However, if it failed while washing clothes, I believe that it wouldn't fail so gently. It probably would fill up the air vent and probably leak out the edge of the tank. It may even seep out the toilet? It is probably a good idea to completely seal the tank seams, build a concrete dam and rig up an alarm.

    Thanks for the compliment on the waterfront. My wife and I love it, although we've been challenged a few times with issues of the house (roof, concrete, septic ejector, etc). It really keeps me busy!
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