Not all homes have ejector pumps, but it should be noted that they are the same as sump pumps with one major difference: they can break up solids (shit) and get them out to the sewer. If you have a bathroom in a basement or a building with a garden apartment, chances of you having an ejector pump are pretty high. To me, this is akin to having your bedroom below the men’s bathroom at Soldier Field: eventually, a pipe is going hit you with a shit storm.
When a bathroom is installed in a basement, the toilet, shower and even the sink are usually BELOW the sewer line out to the street (it never sounded like a good idea to be below sewer level, but hey, who the hell am I?). In order to accommodate a bathroom below sewer level, you need to pump the waste water up to the sewer level. Because toilets are included in waste sources that will feed into the waste reservoir, the ejector pump is necessary.
Likewise, there is a LIMIT TO WHAT AN EJECTOR PUMP CAN GRIND UP. You should NEVER place ANYTHING other than toilet paper and the aforementioned s#!t into the toilet. So, when I got a call from tenants in my only apartment with an ejector pump telling me that there was water all over the floor AND later found a “feminine hygiene product” and a condom caught in the check valve, I nearly blew a gasket.
First of all, we were lucky that the contraband didn’t break the pump and cause an overflow. What did happen was a bit crazy, but it’s the best that I can surmise:
- The unspeakable items lodged in the check valve prohibiting flow of water and creating enormous line pressure.
- The check valve (which normally prevents back flow into the pit) is held on by worm clamps.
- The weakest point in the system was the worm clamp: the pump kept pumping and the water had no place to go, so the line blew open at the check valve while someone was in the shower.
- The pump would have made several cycles and spewed about 5-8 gallons each time.
It took me 4 days to dry the apartment, clean the carpet and sanitize the affected areas. My advice: when the lease says, shit and toilet paper only, make sure it’s shit and toilet paper only. Cheers.