Sewer Systems

Knowledge Center

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a Pressure Sewer System?

Q: What is a pressure sewer system?
A: A pressure sewer system uses small-diameter pipes and grinder pumps installed at each home. The grinder pump station collects all of the wastewater from the home and grinds it into slurry. The wastewater is then pumped to a larger sewer main or directly to a wastewater treatment plant. Learn more about pressure sewer systems and their benefits in our Overview section.

What is a Grinder Pump?

Q: What is a grinder pump?
A: A grinder pump collects wastewater from a building, grinds up the solids, and pumps it to the sewer system through small-diameter pipes.

Q: How does a grinder pump work?
A: All of the wastewater from the home (from toilets, sinks, dishwasher, washing machine, etc) flows into the tank. When wastewater reaches a certain level, the pump turns on automatically and pumps the wastewater to the sewer main. The pump will turn off automatically.

Q: Is this a replacement for a septic tank or other onsite treatment?
A: No, the wastewater needs to be pumped to a sewer line or some form of treatment.

Q: How loud is the grinder pump?
A: With an outdoor unit buried in the ground, you will not hear it at all if you’re 10 or 15 feet away. If you’re standing on top of it, it sounds like your washing machine when it’s running — just a hum (69 dB at 6 feet).

Q: How long will the pump operate each day?
A: Typical operation is a total of 10 to 30 minutes per day for single-family residential homes. It is designed to turn on several times throughout the day (20 to 40 times for a single-family home), for 1 to 2 minutes each time. This will vary with water usage — the more water you use, the more often the pump will turn on.  

Q: What is the average yearly electrical cost to operate a grinder pump servicing the typical single-family home?
A: A typical single family home uses approximately 250 gallons of water per day. The E/One pump for this home will consume about 200 KWh of electricity per year. Check your utility bill for the cost per kilowatt hour in your area. For example, if you pay 11 cents per kilowatt hour: $0.11 KWh x 120 KWh = $13.00 per year cost of electricity to operate the E/One pump.

Q: What is the difference between E/One's grinder pump and centrifugal pumps? Why is an SPD pump important in a pressure sewer system?
A: Constant, predictable pump output is the foundation for proper hydraulic design. It enables the engineer to minimize retention time, pump wear and deep scouring action at effective levels. E/One's semi-positive displacement (SPD) grinder pump was developed for wastewater applications. Pumps & Systems magazine featured an article about SPD pumps for pressure sewer systems that compares SPD and centrifugal pumps.

E/One offers grinder pump stations for residential (simplex stations) and light commercial (duplex through quadplex stations) applications. All grinder pump stations use the 1 hp Extreme Series pump. Visit the Product Catalog for the available tank capacities, tank materials and GPD ratings. 

E/One's grinder pump lends itself to complex system designs because of its nearly vertical pump curve and the resulting nearly identical flow rate allows a wide variety of discharge heads. The predictable flows of the SPD pumps provide tolerance of widely varying system pressures.

system performance mega curve

SPD grinder pumps are crucial to the success operation of a pressure sewer system. The performance characteristics of SPD pumps assist in maintaining a sewer network free from blockages. When deposition of solids occurs, tending to block the pipe, centrifugal pumps will move toward shut off, reducing flow and velocity and increasing the tendency to block the pipe. SPD pumps constantly scour the lines to prevent buildup because flow is maintained although pressure or head increased, effectively scouring the pipe.

Grinder Pump Use, Troubleshooting and Repair/Service

Q: What can I flush with a grinder pump?
A: The only items that should be going down your drains are water, regular toilet paper, and human waste. The following items should not be introduced into the grinder pump station (or any sewer system); they can damage or cause premature problems (parts wearing out) with your pump, or build up in the tank and block your pump from working properly.

  • Do not dump large amounts of grease, paint, strong chemicals, and avoid putting sand, kitty litter, etc. down your drain.
  • Feminine products and personal/cleaning wipes (even if they're marked "flushable") should be disposed of in a garbage can, not flushed.

Refer to our Grinder Pump Owners Guide for more information about what not to flush.

Q: Why is my grinder pump alarm going off? What does the red light on a grinder pump mean?
A: The alarm on your grinder pump station will sound when the wastewater in the tank reaches a certain level.

  • An alarm may occur if a large amount of water goes into the tank and rises above the pump's alarm level, such as emptying a large whirlpool bathtub. After the pump "catches up," the alarm turns off by itself and does not turn on again. We call this a "nuisance alarm." Frequent nuisance alarms during normal water usage (showers, washing machine, etc) may indicate that the pump is having trouble "keeping up" with pumping and needs service.
  • A nuisance alarm may also occur after a power outage: wastewater may be above the pump’s alarm level and the pump needs a few minutes to pump down the tank to a normal level. If the alarm doesn't turn off, call for service.
  • An actual alarm will occur if the pump has stopped working and wastewater in the tank rises above the pump's alarm level. Discontinue water use to avoid causing a backup or overflow. Never silence the alarm and continue using water if your pump is not working; you will cause a backup or overflow and possibly damage the pump.

Q: What should I do if the alarm on my grinder pump goes off or the grinder pump red light stays on?
A: If the alarm turns off after a few minutes and does not turn on again, the grinder pump should be OK. Check regularly to ensure that the grinder pump is operating and the alarm is not on.

If the alarm turns on and off repeatedly or turns on and stays on, call an authorized service center for service. Discontinue water use to avoid causing a backup or overflow. Look on your alarm panel for a service sticker with a phone number. If no service sticker is on the panel, call our Service Link (USA) at 1-866-539-9803 to find a service center near you.

Q: Who do I call for grinder pump service and repair?
A: E/One recommends that you call an E/One authorized distributor or service center for repair. Technicians are trained by Environment One and knowledgeable about our pumps. First, look on your alarm panel for a service sticker with a phone number. If no service sticker is on the panel, call our Service Link (USA) at 1-866-539-9803 to find a service center near you.

Q: How do I contact E/One’s service department?
A: If you have questions about grinder pump service, call us at 518-346-6161, or send an email to

Grinder Pumps and Power Outages

Q: Will my grinder pump work if the power goes out?
A: No, the grinder pump requires electricity to run. If the power goes out, limit your water usage as much as possible. The tank has extra storage capacity and should be adequate because you are not using the dishwasher, washing machine, etc. When the power comes on again, the alarm may go off for a short time – this is normal because the water could be above the pump’s alarm level and the pump needs a few minutes to pump down the tank to a normal level. If the alarm does not turn off, call for service.

The best way to handle power outages is using an alarm panel that is equipped with a Remote Sentry Module and a generator receptacle. The Remote Sentry is a remote alarm with a buzzer & LED that indicates a high water alarm, even if the power is out, when it is connected to the Remote Sentry Contacts in the panel. Water can be used until the Remote Sentry indicates that the tank is full, then plug a 6500W generator into the receptacle on the panel, the pump turns on, pumps down the tank, and they can continue to use water.

Q: What are the requirements for a generator?
A: E/One recommends a good quality, 6500-watt generator for starting the pump.

Where to Buy an E/One Grinder Pump

Q: Where can I buy an E/One grinder pump or replacement parts?
A: E/One sells its grinder pumps through a network of distributors. Use our Distributor Locator to find the distributor in your area. We do not sell direct.