Need help finding the best product for your application?Contact us today for a FREE Estimate.

(781) 932-3030 |

Everything You Need to Know About Lift Station Pumps

When gravity fails in sewage management, you can use a lift station pump system to solve the problem. Lift station pumps move wastewater from lower elevations to higher treatment facilities. In this article, we’ll explore what lift station pumps are, how they help with wastewater management, and how to choose the right lift station pump for your needs.

Key Takeaways

  • Management: Lift stations transport sewage from lower to higher elevations, which prevents the need for deep sewer pipes and minimizes front-end construction costs, while also contributing to flood prevention.
  • Variety: A variety of pumps can be used in lift stations, including submersible, dry well, and specialty pumps. Each is designed for specific conditions and wastewater types.
  • Maintenance and Regulations: Routine troubleshooting and strict adherence to regulations will help ensure efficient operation, longevity, and legal compliance of lift station systems.

Understanding Lift Stations and How They Manage Wastewater

Lift stations, also known as pump stations or sewage lift stations, serve as key components in managing wastewater. They are designed to transport sewage from lower to higher elevations, especially when the natural flow of gravity is insufficient for the task.

A wastewater lift station facilitates a smooth transition of wastewater to treatment facilities, providing a cost-effective sewage management solution. Instead of requiring extensive excavation and deep sewer pipes, lift stations simplify the wastewater treatment process. This saves you quite a bit on front-end construction costs. Lift stations also significantly contribute to flood prevention in areas prone to waterlogging.

The Mechanics Behind Lift Station Pumps

Close-up of a submersible lift station pump in operation

Lift stations function by elevating wastewater using a network of pumps and pipes, transporting it to the intended location. The pumps are designed to handle solid waste and move the wastewater efficiently through the system. The heart of a lift station is its pump, which operates by lifting water from the well and utilizing a pressurized sewer force main to pressurize the water, enabling it to ascend to higher levels.

Lift stations are designed to handle a wide range of capacities, varying from 20 gallons to a whopping 100,000 gallons per minute. This flexibility allows many lift stations to cater to different demands. Understanding how they work will help you take the necessary steps to optimize their performance.

Types of Lift Station Pumps and Their Uses

Each type of lift station is designed to meet specific needs. From submersible sewage and effluent pumps to engine-driven pumps for heavy-duty applications, the selection is quite vast.

Let’s examine the specifics of these varied pumping systems and pump types.

Submersible Pump Systems

Submersible pumps are frequently preferred in lift stations. These pumps are constructed with corrosion-resistant materials such as stainless steel to endure the acidic nature of wastewater. The pumps are located inside the wet well within the wastewater system. They are powered by a motor to facilitate the pumping of wastewater.

Dry Well Pump Configurations

Dry well lift stations provide an alternative method for managing wastewater. These systems feature a separation between the wet well, where wastewater is collected, and the dry well which contains the pumps and controls. This separation allows for distinct functional areas, making maintenance and inspection easier since the pumps and controls are more accessible in their own space.

However, dry well configurations are not without their disadvantages. They pose increased safety risks compared to wet well configurations. With the right precautions, dry well lift stations can be a viable option in certain circumstances.

Specialty Pumps for Unique Applications

Beyond the submersible and dry well configurations, there are specialty pumps designed to cater to specific applications and challenging environments. For instance, explosion-proof pumps are designed to accommodate various hazardous plumbing applications, including sump, submersible, centrifugal, transfer, and sewage pumps. Brands such as Barnes, Goulds, Liberty, and Zoeller offer specialized explosion-proof pumps tailored for industrial and municipal environments.

Another unique type of pump is the chopper pump. These are designed to chop difficult solids into slurry, making them perfect for lift stations dealing with flushable wipes, grease, and other non-biodegradable materials. The design of chopper pumps reduces clogging risks and is ideal for lift stations experiencing high volumes of non-biodegradable solids.

Then there are the dry-pit submersible pumps. These are designed to protect against flooding with oil-filled motors or cooling jackets, making them suitable for flood-prone areas. As you can see, there’s a pump for every situation!

Selecting the Right Pump for Your Lift Station

Choosing an appropriate pump for a lift station is an important decision that will impact the system’s efficiency and effectiveness. Here are some key considerations:

  1. Pump capacity: The pump capacity should match the expected flow rates in the lift station’s service area.
  2. Best Efficiency Point: Pumps should operate near their Best Efficiency Point for optimal energy efficiency.
  3. Variable speed drives: Using pumps with variable speed drives allow you to adjust to varying flows and contribute to energy savings.

Another consideration is compatibility with pressurized sewer force mains, which are often employed for wastewater elevation changes. Different types of pumps include the following:

  • Turbine
  • End-suction
  • In-line
  • Positive displacement

The pumps are selected based on their ability to work effectively under varying conditions not suitable for submersion.

Lastly, you need to consider static heads when it comes to selecting the pump. High static heads can reduce VFD turn-down capabilities and affect energy efficiency.

Installation Insights: Setting Up Your Lift Station Pump

Installation process of a lift station pump with float level control systems and check valves

The setup of your lift station pump necessitates thorough consideration. For optimal operation, think about the following:

  • Pumps should not be used for sewage storage to avoid septic conditions.
  • The capacity of the pump should match the quantity of treated wastewater to prevent excessive cycling.
  • Pay particular attention when setting up the lift station’s float level control system, which manages pump activity according to the wastewater levels in the wet well.

Additionally, it’s important to have a strategy in place to prevent clogs. This can be achieved by using bar screens or grinder pumps. Check valves are also an essential component of installation as they prevent the reverse flow of wastewater.

When retrofitting, it’s necessary to consider infrastructure adaptations for new pumps and the importance of proper pump support and grouting in dry-pit installations to maintain performance and prevent early failures.

Remote Monitoring and Control of Lift Station Pumps

Technological advancements have made the management of lift stations both more efficient and user-friendly. Remote monitoring technology has revolutionized the operation of lift stations by providing real-time alerts, mobile visibility, and remote control capabilities. This has improved operational performance and efficiency in lift station management.

These monitoring systems collect data on key performance parameters and provide real-time alarms every ten minutes, allowing preventative maintenance measures, and issue diagnosis. With these advances, managing lift stations has never been easier.

Routine Maintenance: Keeping Your Pump Station in Top Shape

Similar to other machines, lift stations require routine maintenance for their smooth operation and extended lifespan. Routine inspections and maintenance activities, such as cleaning and monitoring for signs of wear or corrosion, are key for extending the lifespan of steel lift stations beyond 15-20 years and ensuring their optimal performance.

Preventative maintenance contracts provided by companies like Advanced Pump offer regular scheduled maintenance, on-site services, and in-house repairs to maintain lift stations. These services are carried out by experienced technicians who are adept at servicing top brands and electric motors up to 500 horsepower.

Effective maintenance of lift stations is supported by reliable monitoring systems that record detailed operational data. This data is needed for ensuring balanced pump operations, detecting malfunctions, and avoiding storage of sewage that leads to septic action. Proper maintenance ensures the continuous and efficient operation of lift station pumps and extends their lifespan.

Advanced Pump’s Commitment to Lift Station Excellence

Advanced Pump is steadfast in its commitment to excellence in lift station operations. The company offers maintenance and repair services that prevent emergencies through dependable preventative maintenance programs. They provide both on-site and in-house repairs to optimize equipment and minimize client downtime.

With over 30 years of experience, Advanced Pump serves industrial, commercial, and municipal customers, working with all major pump and motor manufacturers. As an authorized sales and service provider for Grundfos, we offer efficient pump solutions, servicing over 100 different brands in the process. Our dedication to excellence and quality service make them a trusted partner in lift station maintenance.

Navigating Regulations and Compliance for Your Lift Station

The operation of a lift station extends beyond installation and maintenance, encompassing legal aspects as well. Lift stations must adhere to safety standards set by the National Electric Code (NEC) and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to prevent the ignition of enclosed motors and components. Operators are legally required to perform routine maintenance on lift stations and to maintain detailed records of such maintenance.

Compliance with environmental regulations is also vital to prevent legal issues and to maintain integrity in the operation of lift stations. A lift station’s design must ensure:

  • It is located within a legal right-of-way or a permanent easement
  • It has adequate security measures like an intruder-resistant, locked fence
  • It can operate during a 100-year flood event


Lift stations play a major role in managing wastewater, and transporting it from lower to higher elevations. From understanding their operation and the types of pumps used, to their installation, maintenance, and the regulations governing their operation, managing a lift station is a complex task. Here’s to the unsung heroes of our cities, the lift stations that keep our wastewater flowing smoothly!