What are Sanitary Lift Stations – and Are They Necessary?

Put simply, a sanitary lift station is part of a wastewater treatment system that is used to move this liquid from lower elevations to higher ones. These systems are responsible for the transportation of wastewater from the home or office to the treatment plant, and can be used to bypass subterranean sewer pipes.

But how do they work?

The first step in using a lift station is to determine the correct size needed for a specific property. This is done by figuring out what the peak flow rates are (or will be) as well as taking into account the distance pumped water needs to travel. Since these figures can be difficult to determine, it’s imperative that professionals are consulted before selecting, purchasing or installing any part of this system.

The goal is to move wastewater from one place to another, but this is only done when all of the correct components are in place.

Though there are multiple kinds of sanitary lift stations, the most common is a submersible lift station. This includes parts like:

  • A wet well
  • Two submersible pumps
  • Check and isolation valves
  • A control system
  • Electric motors
  • Power supply system
  • Ventilation system

Depending on the size of the lift station, valves may be included inside of the wet well (small) or positioned outside of it (large).

The function of a lift station is determined by the level of liquid inside of the well at specific points in time – meaning that they are not constantly running. When the liquid reaches the correct level, one pump turns on and begins to remove the water, lowering the level. As soon as this finishes, the pump turns itself off, and the opposite one repeats the process next time the system is needed.

For these pumps, there are also different kinds that systems may include.

The two types of pumps available are grinder pumps, which makes any present solids much smaller as they move through the chamber. A grinder pump means that outgoing pipes can be much smaller than those used with the other pump type. The second type of pump is a solids handling pump, which doesn’t alter the size or shape of solids that pass through the system.

One of the most important aspects of installing these pumps into the sanitary lift station is aligning them.

Misalignment often leads to leaks, which in turn leads to hazards, prolonged run time for the pumps, and premature failure within the system itself, something that you do not want. 

But How Do You Choose The Right List Station System?

Luckily for those that need them, these systems come pre-designed for convenience. That means that once you determine what size and type of lift station you want and need, it’s as simple as picking one out and choosing the right company to install it. For those that need or want to customize them, that option is available, too. It all depends on exactly what specifications you are looking to meet.

Choosing, installing and maintaining an efficient sanitary lift station is the goal, but how are the standards determined?

The most important thing that a sanitary lift station needs to do is be reliable. That means no interruption in operation. That also means that it shouldn’t impact the surrounding environment. But what impacts can a malfunctioning lift station have on nature?

Unfortunately, some not at all desirable ones.

Two of the most common are excessive odors and flooding – or overflow. Since these stations are still dealing with raw and untreated wastewater, any liquid seeping out of the tank, or through the pipes and into the ground (or onto the surface) are not a good outcome. Proper installation and routine maintenance are absolutely necessary to ensure correct function of your lift station.

Sanitary Lift Station Maintenance is Important to Keep Up With

To ensure that your sanitary lift station remains in good working condition, keep the following maintenance tips in mind.

  1. Inspections should be performed on a routine basis. Though all components won’t need to be looked at on the same schedule, there are a few that can be combined. For example, quarterly inspections of the submersible pumps, motors and float sensors is recommended. Cleaning is usually also done at this time. Check valve inspections and wet well pumping is necessary at least twice a year. This is important to keep build up to a minimum as well as to help eliminate odors.
  2. Keeping a logbook, or at the very least, a list of maintenance performance can help ensure that nothing is missed. These records are also great when and if you need to replace or upgrade specific components, since it will give professionals an idea of how old existing parts are.
  3. Have a general inspection of the entire system done – specifically on all electrical and moving parts – semi-annually. This might seem excessive, but spotting problems and taking care of them before they get out of control saves time and money.
  4. Know that even when you keep up with your routine maintenance, these lift station components will need to be replaced. Taking care of the individual parts throughout their lifespan can extend them, but figure that roughly every 12-15 years, you’ll need to do a major overhaul of the system.

Understanding the Function of A Sanitary Lift Station Helps Prolong the Lifespan

Wastewater treatment isn’t something that you should take lightly. After all, the health of your family and the environment depend on the proper handling of the contents within these systems. This is one of the main reasons that installing and maintaining these systems professionally is the right choice.

When you understand how something works, it’s easier to understand how to ensure that it stays working. That means more though, than knowing the function of a system like this one. Even properly functional lift stations have the potential to be hazardous, but this risk can be minimized.

It starts with choosing and working with the right installation companies and product manufacturers, but it continues with you being sure to treat your septic system (and in turn the lift station) properly.

The most common cause of backups and service interruptions is improper disposal of trigger items into the system. This includes the following – but there are plenty more not listed, too.

  • Paper products
  • Diapers
  • Cloth
  • Chemicals (oil, grease, soap, gasoline, paint)
  • Sanitary products
  • Yard waste

Putting things like these into the system may seem convenient, but it does much more hard than good.

But it’s not only this type of item getting introduced into the system that may cause issues. Sometimes, natural occurrences cause backups, too. Unfortunately, even if you maintain the lift station and system properly, issues with the existing sewer system may cause flooding. Common problems include leaks and cracks, broken pipes, cracked manholes, or even simply a heavy, prolonged rainstorm.

The fact that these potential problems exist make it even more important to choose the correct lift station and perform your due diligence when it comes to maintaining it. 

Sanitary Lift Stations Provide Necessary and Cost Effective Services When They Are Needed Most

Wastewater treatment is a crucial service for every community, no matter the location. Sometimes, it’s as simple as connecting your home to the existing sewer system, but other times, more work is required. This work doesn’t need to be complicated, and sanitary lift stations take a great deal of the guesswork out of the equation. Why not let this system do the work instead of making further accommodations of time, space and money to dig?

It’s not reasonable to think that all communities are built at or above ground level, so utilizing a lift system like this one isn’t only practical, it’s smart. This type of installation and infrastructure is meant to assist in an already streamlined process, not make it more complicated.

To ensure that the system you have installed is what is best for your unique situation, choose to work with the right companies for purchase and installation. In some cases, these two groups are the same – but in others, you’ll need to shop around in order to choose the right combination.

Making the right choices from the very beginning when it comes to a sanitary lift station helps to decrease the likelihood of problems occurring soon after starting to use it. Yes, you’ll need routine maintenance, and you’ll eventually have to replace parts of the system, but the more vigilant you are with the operation of the system, the longer it will take to reach that point.