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What is a Lift Station in a Sewage System?

If you live in an area with challenging topography or low-lying land, you may have heard of residential lift stations or ejector pumps. These are wastewater pumping systems that are commonly used in houses or small communities to move sewage from a lower elevation to a higher one, where it can be treated and disposed of safely.

The lift station consists of a pump, a control panel, and a pit or basin where the wastewater collects before being pumped out. Most lift stations are enclosed systems and not open like a sump pump. The pump is typically located at the bottom of the pit and is activated by a float switch that detects when the wastewater level rises to a certain point.

When wastewater flows into the pit or basin, it triggers the float switch, which activates the pump. The pump then moves the wastewater through a pipe or hose to a higher elevation, such as a septic tank or a municipal sewer system. Once the wastewater has been pumped out, the float switch turns off the pump until the next cycle begins. Some lift stations can remove wastewater at a rate of 20 gallons a minute to larger and more powerful ones that can pump at 100,000 gallons a minute! The higher rate systems are typically found in commercial structures or in city wastewater systems.

Without a lift station, wastewater would not be able to flow uphill, and sewage backups or overflows could occur. This can lead to health hazards and environmental pollution, as well as damage to property and infrastructure. If your property has a lift station, you may want to consider a backup power source in the event of prolonged power outages. Routine Inspection of the lift station is also recommended to ensure proper function and property preservation.

Residential lift stations are an essential part of modern wastewater management systems. They allow homes and communities to safely and efficiently move sewage from a lower elevation to a higher one, where it can be treated and disposed of properly. If you are considering installing a lift station on your property, it is important to work with a qualified professional who can help you design and install a system that meets your specific needs and complies with local regulations.


Collection Systems Technology Fact Sheet: Sewers, Lift Station. U.S. EPA.

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