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Sun, March 24

Ask the Contractor: Hillside living may require sewage ejection system

If you home is below an existing sewer line, which many homes on hills are, then the homeowner would need a sewage ejection system. (Stock)

If you home is below an existing sewer line, which many homes on hills are, then the homeowner would need a sewage ejection system. (Stock)

My wife and I are contemplating purchasing a hillside lot in Prescott for a new home. We have met with several YCCA builders and have been told that our home will require a sewage ejection system.

We understand the reasoning and have no issues with what we have been told, however, this is such an interesting item and one that we had no knowledge of prior to making a visit to Prescott and contemplating the purchase of this beautiful hillside lot and now we must design our home around a required sewer ejection system.

We would like to ask that you share with others what a sewage ejection system is and talk about this non-NASA sewage ejector system that does not send a man to the moon, but just moves sewage into the main drain — nothing spectacular and nothing that will prevent us from building. — Bill & Audrey from the flatlands of Texas.

P.S. Thanks for sending us your wonderful 2017 Building Yavapai magazine. Receiving that magazine from our inquiry about your city made us take a trip to see the community.

Given the diversity of the terrain in our area, builders often find difficulty in getting the main sewer line for the house to proper grade and to the city sewer. Sewage ejector pumps are designed to pump residential sewage to an elevated city sewer line. All residential plumbing systems rely on the force of gravity to move water into the incoming lines and to move sewer waste out. When wastewater cannot flow to its proper destination with gravity, and if the geography of the site is such that it prevents sewage from moving fast enough on its own and the rule of thumb is 2 feet per second, there is a solution: sewage ejection systems.

A typical distinctive application of a sewage ejector system is in a home where a bath is located lower than the height of the sewer line which leaves the home. The sewer ejection pump lifts the waste from the lower level (basement type homes) up to the sewer line at the main level.

The principle is to run the main sewer drain from your house into a basin, which houses a pump. When the level in the tank reaches its preferred set limit, a set of floats will activate the pump to come on. This pump will emulsify the solids and pump it into the city sewer.

There are different styles of pumps and the first and simplest is the sewage ejection system, which generally runs off one pump and one float.

The basic principle is when the float rises to its set limit, it activates the pump and when the tank is emptied and the float drops, the pump shuts off. Some homeowners opt to have a second pump installed as an alternating or back-up pump.

A high-water alarm can also be installed in the event the pump fails. If the pump were to fail, the alarm will sound with an audible sound and light to alert you of a problem. With sewer ejection systems, it is crucial to avoid certain items from entering the drain lines when your home is on any type of ejector system.

More than 90 percent of service calls related to ejector problems are calls in which foreign objects have been introduced into the sewer. The guideline is as follows for what you should dispose of into the sewer when you are on an ejector system: Toilet paper, toilet paper and toilet paper only.

That is it!

Minimal use of the garbage disposal is also recommended. This minimal garbage disposal guideline applies to all sewer systems but especially to a grinder or ejector system. One of the most common problems with non-functioning ejector systems is the disposal of handy wipes into the sewer. It states on the container that you can flush these items into the sewer — DO NOT DO IT!

This is a common problem of malfunctioning ejector systems — the dreaded shredded and bound up handy wipe. The homeowner will proudly produce the box of handy wipes which states, safe to flush down the toilet. Remember just say no to handy wipes being flushed down the toilet.

The farther the distance the waste must be lifted the larger the pump. You must also consider size and capacity for example a single toilet versus multiple baths and users.

When considering maintenance, the ejector system should be checked once a year by a qualified plumbing contractor. The main item checked during a inspection is to see that the floats are properly set. There will be a visual inspection of the inside of the tank to ensure that no foreign object damage has occurred to the moving parts. The pump ohms are also checked, which in most cases this will indicate the life expectancy of the pump.

To avoid any confusion, there is a big difference between sewer ejection systems and sump pumps. The sump pump is used to move clean water from an area where water is not desired. Sump pumps are used under homes where ground water forms or during our monsoons when the water runs under a home to such a degree that is becomes a hazard.

If our readers have any questions, submit them to YCCA at and watch for your answer in the weekly Real Estate Section of The Daily Courier every Friday or every Wednesday in the Prescott Valley Tribune and Chino Valley Review. We are delighted that you are supporting our column and hope you enjoy the answers and tips from YCCA and our members.

Remember to tune in to YCCA’s “Hammer Time” every Saturday or Sunday at 7 a.m. on KQNA 1130AM, 99.9FM, 95.5FM or the web Listen to Sandy to Mike talk about the construction industry meet your local community partners and so much more. You will be entertained.

Sandy Griffis is executive director of the Yavapai County Contractors Association. Email your questions to her at or call 928-778-0040.


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