This is a great post by Russel with an explanation of the difference between a sump pump and a sewage pump. The wrong elevation for plumbing draining requires a pump to pump it up.
Sump pump or sewage pump?
There is a difference.
Last week I was supposed to do an inspection on a home that had a sump pump. When I got there, this is what I found:
I took one look at that setup and told my Client that it was a sewage pump rather than a sump pump. There is a difference.
All of those black pipes are common ABS sewer pipes, and since this house was located well below street level yet connected to the public sewer system, there had to be a way to get the sewage from the house and up to the public sewer system.
In the first picture, you can see that the sewage pump has a wood cover on it, a wood cover that was loose and didn't fit well, so the sewer odors were seeping into the home. Since the cover was loose, I moved it so that I could definitively confirm that this was a sewage pump. When I flushed the toilet just a couple of feet away, it took only a couple of seconds for the water to discharge into the sewage pump and for the sewage pump to kick on.
In addition to the loose wood cover (it should be metal with a rubber gasket), there were a couple of sewer pipes that I couldn't trace where they were coming from. There also was not an alarm system on this sewage pump to notify both the main house and the tenant's house if the sewage pump failed. The last thing you want is a non-working sewage pump when you're as far below street level as this house was.
Since my Clients were investors, and this was the third property I was inspecting for them, I told them that they should have a plumber look at the sewage pump first, and then depending on the cost to correct the deficiencies, they could decide if they wanted to move forward with a complete home inspection.
By the way, a sump pump might be the same size, or even bigger, but you won't find dozens of ABS pipes leading to it. There usually is just one pipe leading out, and there will be usually be a readily visible pump, as in the picture below:
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