Grinder Pump Station Maintenance

Former Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District Customers are eligible for the following maintenance program options to assist in maintaining their grinder pump station:

  • One free grinder pump, level control instrument, and external check valve replacement at an estimated value of over $5,000. This offer does not expire and will be available should your current equipment stop working.
  • Competitively priced routine grinder pump station maintenance services. The rates are available below and will be charged beginning January 1, 2023. You are under no obligation to use City Utilities over your preferred service provider.

These maintenance program options are currently limited to former Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District customers. General information about grinder pumps and a troubleshooting guide for all customers is available below.

Grinder Pump Station Maintenance Pricing — Effective January 1, 2023

Service Description Price
Service Call – during business hours $140
Service Call – after business hours $240
Replace Capacitors1 $49
Replace Fuses1 $35
Replace Breakers (Type 1)1 $65
Replace Breakers (Type 2)1 $112
Replace Breakers (Type 3)1 $294
Replace Motor Starters (Type 1)1 $104
Replace Motor Starters (Type 2)1 $168
Grinder Station Pumping1 $180

1 – The applicable Service Call price will be added to this price. Only 1 service call will be charged per Service trip (multiple services can be done on one trip).

Grinder Pump Station Information

A grinder pump is a pump usually located in a fiberglass or polyethylene tank (station) located in the yard of a home. Wastewater drains from the house to the grinder pump station, where it is ground into a slurry and pumped to the nearest gravity sewer or to a pressure pipe where grinder pumps from multiple homes work together to push wastewater to a lift station or gravity sewer (low pressure sewer system).

Wastewater normally flows downhill by gravity through the sewer system. However, gravity service is not available to all properties. Your residence may be lower than the sewer main, requiring the use of a pump to force the wastewater up to the gravity sewer main, or your subdivision may use a low-pressure system.

Property owners are responsible for the operation, maintenance, repairs and replacements of the grinder system serving their property. Grinder stations serving multiple properties are maintained by City Utilities. Additionally, City Utilities will offer routine grinder pump station maintenance services to former Allen County Regional Water and Sewer District customers. Rates for these maintenance services are available here. To schedule a service, contact City Utilities Customer Support at 260-427-1234.

1. A properly maintained grinder pump station should be able to handle wastewater from the kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. However, some chemicals and substances can adversely impact a grinder pump and may cause safety hazards. Never put any of the following materials into sinks, toilets or drains as they can clog your home system and create unsafe conditions in your lines and tank:

  • Cooking fat (lard, oil or grease)
  • Wipes, such as baby wipes even if labeled as “flushable”
  • Sanitary napkins, tampons, condoms, or diapers
  • Dental Floss
  • Q-Tips
  • Hair clippings
  • Cigarette butts
  • Rubber gloves or other disposable gloves
  • Degreasing Solvents
  • Strong chemical, toxic, caustic, or poisonous substance
  • Explosive or flammable materials (gasoline, kerosene, paint thinners, antifreeze, etc.)
  • Abrasive substances such as cat litter, eggshells, seafood shells, coffee grounds, aquarium gravel, or fireplace ashes
  • Glass, metal, wood, or plastic objects

2. Do not plant flowers or shrubs or place fences, decorative pilings, fish ponds, etc. within the immediate area to avoid damage to the basin, underground electrical systems, or piping systems. Electrical power and alarm wires are buried underground between the control panel and the tank and between your home and the control panel. Use caution when digging and call 811 for utility locates.

3. Never connect a sump pump to the grinder pump. Likewise, protect your grinder station from surface water runoff by diverting downspouts and sump pump discharges away from the tank. This will avoid nuisance alarms caused by flooding and will keep out soil and other debris. This will also increase your pump’s life and keep your electric bill down.

4. Inspect the vent on top of the grinder station lid and keep free of debris or clogs.

5. Avoid running your lawnmower or any vehicles over the station lid.

6. Locate and label the circuit breakers in your electrical service panel and grinder station control panel.

Your grinder pump cannot operate without electrical power. Although the grinder pump station has a certain amount of holding capacity, if electrical power service is interrupted keep water usage to a minimum to prevent the system from backing up. Without power the alarm will not sound and there will be no warning of a possible sewage overflow.

If you will be away from your home for seven days or more, there is a step you can take to minimize odors and reduce the risk of damage to your home. Ideally, you want to replace the wastewater in the tank with clean water. To do this, run an inside faucet for about 10 minutes or 30 gallons, just long enough for the grinder pump to begin working. To verify that the pump is running, it may be necessary to go outside near the pump and listen for it to start. After the pump starts, turn the faucet off. The grinder pump will run until the tank is empty and shut off automatically. This process will cleanse the pump and keep it filled with a minimum amount of clean water.

Always leave the power on, because a heating element inside many of the pumps helps eliminate condensation and freezing. This may also help to protect your home from flooding should a plumbing failure or leak develop while you’re away.

Homeowner Troubleshooting for Grinder Pumps

Your grinder pump station is fitted with an alarm in case of failure. If there is a failure, the tank that contains the pump will become too full and the alarm and light, located on the pump control panel box will automatically turn on. If the alarm sounds, please follow these important steps:

  1. Discontinue water use to prevent overflows.
  2. Silence the alarm by pressing the silence button on the bottom of the pump control panel box. The light will remain on.
  3. Wait 20 minutes before taking further action. A high-water level will sometimes cause the alarm to go on. This situation is often self-correcting, and the holding tank will automatically pump down. If 20 minutes have passed and the alarm light is still on, call City Utilities Customer Support at 260-427-1234 or your trusted plumbing contractor.
  4. Never attempt to open the tank cover.
  • Check where your downspouts and sump pumps discharge to. If the alarm activates during wet weather, you may have an illegal connection, or your building sewer is damaged between your home and the grinder pump station. Extend/redirect downspouts and sump pump lines away from your grinder pump station. Per Sewer Rate Ordinance G-6-20, illegal residential connections can incur monthly fees of $50 per connection until properly disconnected.
  • If your grinder pump station is in a low spot in your yard, there may be a bad gasket on the lid, or a crack in the basin or on the vent pipe that is allowing runoff stormwater or snow melt to infiltrate. Contact City Utilities Customer Support at 260-427-1234 or your trusted plumbing contractor if you notice any cracks in the lid or the vent or if the lid is missing bolts. If the lid is underwater, an extension to the basin or the vent may be necessary to raise it up to where water won’t flow in from the top.

A typical grinder pump should turn on 10-20 times per day under normal household usage. If this does not happen:

  • Check your home’s electrical service panel to see if the dedicated breaker for your grinder pump station is tripped or turned off. Also check the breaker at the station control panel. This simple check can save hundreds of dollars in service calls. If breakers continue to trip, consult with a licensed electrician.
  • Check the control panel by the grinder pump station to make sure the toggle is in “Auto” mode, not “Off”.
  • If breakers are all in the “on” position and the control panel is set to “Auto”, there may be an issue with the floats or the pump itself. Contact City Utilities Customer Support at 260-427-1234 or your trusted plumbing contractor.

A typical grinder pump will only run for about 1 minute during normal household usage.

  • Check your home’s plumbing fixtures. You may have a running toilet or leaky faucet.
  • Check the control panel by the grinder pump station to make sure the toggle is in “Auto” mode not “Hand” or “Manual” mode.
  • This could be a symptom of a failed check valve in the station or on your lateral, allowing the force main to drain back into your tank. This could also be a bad “off” float or sensor that needs to be replaced.
    • If your pump is running continuously and nothing is leaking onto the ground, limit your water usage and contact City Utilities Customer Support at 260-427-1234 or your trusted plumbing contractor. Then turn off the power at the breaker in your home. This will keep your pump motor from burning up while the issue is being diagnosed.