White solids in sewage ejection basin tank - what are they?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by numbersguy, Jul 3, 2011.

  1. numbersguy

    numbersguy New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2011
    Location:
    Lancaster, PA
    Our home is below the sewer line so we have a sewage ejection pump in the basement. In 2009 the sewage ejection pump that had been in use since 1969, died. It was replaced by my plumber with a Myers (Pentair Water) model SRM4M1C sewage pump - called Basin Prop with E-Z Switch. (It has legs on it and rests on the bottom of the tank - my plumber tells me.)

    The older sewage pump gave us no problems for the 5 years since we moved in to this house. No later than one year after installing the new pump - my wife came screaming in to the bathroom while I was showering that the sewage tank was leaking in the basement. I called the plumber; he opened the access hatch and discovered while solids as large as softballs and salad plates floating in the tank, sticking to to the sides, and attached to the float making it about twice its normal size. The solids were so thick on the sides that they prevented the float from rising and thereby waste water overflowed through the hatch plate. I dragged the garden hose down to the basement and the plumber cleaned out the tank and pump and dissolved all the solids.

    Last week I was again showering and my wife came in screaming that the sewage pump alarm was going off. I suspected I knew the cause - and I was right! I took off the access plate and peered in with a flashlight and saw the white solids again - only one year since the last time the plumber was out! At least this time the alarm went off.

    This is a WHOLE house sewage pump, so everything drains in to it before being pumped up to the city sewer line.

    Two questions. (1) what is causing the solids to form - and how do I prevent them? (2) why was my 40 year old sewage pump able to do its job without the solids growing and causing it to overflow?

    (A facts: we have city water, no water softener, and we do not pour grease down the kitchen drain.)

    I do not like frivolous lawsuits but I am considering legal action against the plumber for installing the wrong pump and/or the manufacturer for a faulty design of pump that does not do what was was designed to do.

    Someone else in the world must have had the same problem as I and found the cause. Thanks for your help. :(
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  2. plumber2011

    plumber2011 Expert Plumber

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    Occupation:
    Licensed master plumber and owner of small residen
    Location:
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Hi Ng,

    The specification sheet on this pump suggests that it is the proper pump for your application as long as you have a 2" discharge pipe with a check valve in it and a 2" vent coming out of the pit that terminates through the roof. The discharge pipe should also have a small hole in it (under pit cover) to help prevent "AIRLOCK".

    My first thought here is that the LAUNDRY SOAP you guys are using could be causing your issue. Here, I'm wondering if you (or the wife) switched laundry soap over the last few years...soaps can float to the top and collect over time and then break into large pieces and clog things up...could certainly explain why the old pump worked fine and the newer pump doesn't, maybe??

    Your thoughts?
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2011
  3. Sponsor

    Sponsor Paid Advertisement

     
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2008
    Occupation:
    Test, Don't Guess!
    Location:
    Land of Cheese
    You didn't say what the consistency of the "solids" is, but it sounds similar to grease. If you are putting any grease or greasy foods down the drain, that grease will coagulate in the basin and the pump will not move it.
     
  5. hj

    hj Master Plumber

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Occupation:
    Plumber
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    It is soap and grease. If you only have one pump, your system was NOT installed by a competent plumber. A whole house system SHOULD have two pumps, with the complete control system consisting of an alternator, a "Both pump on" function in case one pump is not working or is not fast enough (with an indicator to tell that it had happened), a high water alarm, and possibly a water shutoff connected to the high water alarm so you cannot use water if the system is failing.
     
  6. plumber2011

    plumber2011 Expert Plumber

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    Occupation:
    Licensed master plumber and owner of small residen
    Location:
    Boston, Massachusetts
    Ng said, "and we do not pour grease down the kitchen drain", so that only left soap or some other scummy materials, but I gotta say that I have to agree with your assessment CC and HJ...sounded like grease/soap to me, too!
     
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa DIYer, not in the trades

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2011
    Occupation:
    Semi-Retired
    Location:
    NW Ontario, Canada
    I smell a lawsuit... pity the poor plumber that just replaced a pump.

    Maybe a lab analysis of the "white solids" and a lie detector test for all the family members that purportedly don't pour grease down' the drain may save some court time and money.
     
  8. Sean Eckenrod

    Sean Eckenrod New Member

    Joined:
    May 7, 2012
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Did you find an answer? Having the same issue!

    Did you ever figure this out? I am having the same problem. Any help is greatly appreciated!
     
  9. patrick88

    patrick88 Plumber

    Joined:
    Sep 3, 2007
    Occupation:
    plumber
    Location:
    Webster Ma.
    Maybe I missed something. Is the float hitting the wall?
    Grease will build up. it happens. It could be from what ever you eat. I have seen it in many pits n sewer lines. Get a rubber glove n feel what the white stuff is. If it feels like butter its grease. Check the ties that are holding the floats. Did the float fail? Did the plumber not change the float cause the consumer didnt want to pay the extra money. Most consumers insist they know everything before the pro walks thru the door.
    I had a customer flip out cause he knew it all. I went replaced his pump with a better pump. He still had problems. Pulled out the float I was smart enough to pick up. all was better. Yes the old pump was burnt out. I didnt give him anything he didnt need.

    How many times have we the pro installed a pump only to notice the float hits the wall. This is why I test everything 2-3 times. Its the stupid little things that get all of us.
    @Sean Eckenrod.
    What are the problems you are having?
     
Similar Threads: White solids
Forum Title Date
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Bradford White Tankless Hot Water C-1 Error 5x/day Jan 1, 2021
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Oatey Great White Pipe Dope May 13, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice White vertical PVC pipe on external kitchen wall Apr 8, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice How to protect white plastic clean out protruding out of dirt in front yard Mar 6, 2020
Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice Would Bluefin packing nut fit to the Red-White Valve corporation gate valve? Feb 6, 2020

Share This Page