Diagnosing Problems With The Ejector Pump

After 5 years I think it’s about time we talk about trouble shooting an ejector pump. So many people rely on the functionality and durability of a sewage ejector that knowing how to do some minor diagnostics and repairs are a must for the homeowner.

Zoeller Ejector Pump

The Zoeller Ejector Pump

Ejector pumps come in many shapes and sizes from the simple submersible ejector pump that you see in millions of homes across America to small point of use ejector pumps to fairly complicated duplex/triplex sewage ejectors that can grind up a small bike. They all work on simple concepts. Waste-water and suspended solids flow to an ejector pit below the elevation of the main sewer that flows out to the city sewer. As the waste-water flows into the pit the water level rises and actuates a switch which cycles the pump. An ejector pump is designed to pass small solids so those solids are broken down to smaller particles and they are pumped up and out to the house sewer.

Usually people don’t think too much about their ejector until it fails and when it fails it’s usually a pretty traumatic event. Don’t make me paint a picture for you, being in the plumbing business for over two decades has given me the power describe plumbing mishaps in great detail.


Below are the most common ejector pump problems and their solutions:

PROBLEM: The pump isn’t cycling at all

Zoeller Float Switches

Piggyback Float Switches

SOLUTION #1: Check that the outlet is getting power. You can plug in a light or another electrical device. If it is not receiving power check your fuse box to see that you haven’t tripped a fuse, if that doesn’t solve the problem call in a qualified electrician.

SOLUTION #2: If your sewage ejector pump has a float style switch, take a wire coat hanger and straighten out so that you have a hook on the end of the hanger. Manipulate the float so that it engages the switch. If the pump doesn’t cycle you either need a new pump or you can attempt to buy a piggyback type switch which bypasses the on board switch. You can buy them retail for between $20 and $30 dollars. This could save you some serious dough.

SOLUTION #3: If you use the make shift remote ejector pump actuator and lift the float and the pump cycles you know that for some reason the float isn’t lifting properly. You may have debris on the float or the float rod is impeding its movement. Clean off the float and rod and fill the pit to see if that takes care of the problem.

SOLUTION #4: Please see above. If the switch actuates and cycles the pump and there is nothing impeding the float and rod from moving it could be that the float is water logged and it’s too heavy to float. In this case go and purchase a piggyback ejector switch and you should be good to go.


PROBLEM: You can hear the pump cycling but it isn’t evacuating the pit properly.

SOLUTION #1: This is sort of rare but it does happen. It’s possible that the float rod is out of adjustment or alignment and its short cycling. So

Zoeller Silent Ejector Check Valve

Spend the extra money for a clear silent check valve

the pump is working but the pit isn’t being fully evacuated. Adjust float or rod to ensure proper pump cycle. If this doesn’t solve the problem buy piggyback switch.

SOLUTION #2: This is a much more common issue. You hear the pump cycle but all you see is some slight movement of water in the pit. In most cases the impeller has become clogged. Remove pump and clean inlet screen.

SOLUTION #3: If you’ve done the above and the pump is still humming but the wastewater isn’t being evacuated the impeller or shaft is damaged. You’re going to need to purchase a new ejector.


PROBLEM: Ejector continues to cycle but no water is being removed from the pit.

SOLUTION: This is a very common issue. Your check valve on the discharge line isn’t indestructible. Often times over the years, debris gets caught on the flapper and it gets hung up. Sometimes the flapper can shear off and become lodged inside the discharge piping. The pump either pumps against itself because the discharge line is clogged or the some of the wastewater is coming back into the pit because the flapper isn’t closing properly. Either way, go out and purchase a new 2” ejector check valve.

I’d like everyone to know I had a lot of fun treading lightly around what debris’ may hang up floats and materials that clog impellers. I will give you one last tip, don’t flush, baby wipes/butt wipes, paper towels or feminine hygiene products down a toilet that drains into an ejector pit. No residential ejector pump can grind up those products so that they will be easily removed. As always thank you for reading.

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