Should I put Septic Pump on Generator


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Old 03-06-21, 11:26 AM
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Should I put Septic Pump on Generator

I am currently deciding what circuits to put on a transfer switch for a generator (gasoline). My septic system uses two tanks: a 1000 gal eliminator tank and a 500/500 pump station. The pump station (as I understand it) pumps up to the leach field. Should the pump be included in the circuits that the generator can run? Is there a time frame wherein it is safe to not have the pump working with minimal water usage in the home, ie: just flushing toilets and washing hands? There are a limited number of circuits on the switch, and I am trying to prioritize.
 
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Old 03-06-21, 01:39 PM
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Only you can make the judgement call as only you know what devices are being eliminated by putting the septic pump on the generator power panel instead of something else. I would put it on the generator power panel based on the consequences of having an overflow situation. The toilets will flush even if the tank is full.
 
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Old 03-06-21, 04:42 PM
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I have a septic pump at my house. My current, manual system allows me to power the septic pump and since I've gone through an above average amount of 5-7 day outages so getting everything runnable at some point is important. As soon as the generator arrives I will be upgrading to an automated whole house system that will power everything, including the septic pump.

It's not good to have the pooper back up but, it's a tough decision. If the power goes out just after the pump ran you could have a long time without trouble so the circuit should be used for something else. However if the power goes out just as the tank approaches full you could have a smelly problem sooner than you'd like and you'll wish the septic pump had power. You just don't know. I like to plan for the worst case. I don't power the well pump without the poo pump on the other end to take it away.
 
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Old 03-07-21, 08:17 AM
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Thanks for the insight. Seems like it is a good thing to have on the switch, even if I don't leave it on constantly while the generator is running. It will give me the option to run it while the power is off. Now I just need to get the specs on the pump to make sure I can safely add it.
 
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Old 03-07-21, 09:36 AM
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Yes, I'd say the sewage pump should be on the transfer switch.
When we had the Halloween 2011 week-long outage, my short list of important circuits was-

1) sump pump
2) heating system
3) well pump (I've got a gravity-fed- septic system, didn't need sewage pump)
4) kitchen outlet (fridge & microwave)
5) Interior lights (I'm in a 1700s farmhouse, when homes were first electrified in the early 1900s, the common layout was to put 1 ceiling mounted light fixture & switch in each room. My old house still has this original circuit; it turned out to be quite useful because a single circuit allowed you to light up the entire house (all fixtures running LED bulbs, so the total draw was quite low)
6) communications - phone-internet NIC power, laptop & phone charging, house WiFi, one LED tv tuned to OTA channels.

 
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Last edited by Hal_S; 03-07-21 at 09:59 AM.
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Old 03-08-21, 05:13 AM
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My septic pump has a three way switch (off, normal, manual on). When a storm is coming and I might loose power I manually turn the pump on and empty the tank. That will give me a weeks accumulation space if we aren't washing clothes.
 
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Old 03-08-21, 09:27 AM
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My septic pump has a three way switch (off, normal, manual on). When a storm is coming and I might loose power I manually turn the pump on and empty the tank.
That's exactly what I do also, but it doesn't work so well when the power goes out unexpectedly for 7 days. Been thinking about wiring a plug inside the house wall opposite the pump box so I can plug the generator in long enough to empty the tank every couple of days. Those transfer switches aren't cheap and I would like to put one in but I would have to run the cord from one end of the house to the other for the generator. Don't know if I could hard wire the switch 80 feet away from the panel without any issues or spending a small fortune on top of the $700 for the switch. Decisions decisions!
 
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Old 03-10-21, 04:19 AM
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Septic pumps exist because the leach field may be higher than the septic tank and/or the leach field may absorb (perc) so slowly that the outflow of the septic tank has to be timed and spread out over all 24 hours of the day as opposed to during the times someone is taking a shower or a dishwasher is running, etc.

While probably no one will notice if you run the septic pump to empty out the holding section of the septic tank system prior to a time when a power failure is more likely, do be aware that the ground in the vicinity of the leach field could become wet and puddly.

Even if you have the usual generator connection to an inlet on the wall and then to a transfer switch unit and panel interlock, you can have a second inlet on the outside wall connected to nothing more than a (female) receptacle on the inside wall just behind and you can connect that to one of the "small" receptacles on the generator and plug in a "small" 120 volt appliance or device.l
 

Last edited by AllanJ; 03-10-21 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 03-10-21, 04:49 AM
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Since EIA began collecting reliability data in 2013, U.S. electricity customers have consistently experienced average total power interruptions of about two hours (106 minutes to 118 minutes) per year when major events are excluded.
An interesting topic, I would have neve even considered a septic system as something I would consider if I had a backup generator.

Out of curiosity, I Googled the average time, less than 2 hours per year, not sure I can even justify a portable generator for that length of time!
 
 

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