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Septic Systems – Onsite Wastewater Treatment

Onsite (or decentralized) private wastewater treatment systems are used to treat wastewater from a home or business and return treated wastewater back into the receiving environment. They are typically referred to as septic systems because most involve a septic tank for partial treatment.

Types of Septic Systems

There are a number of different types of septic systems depending on household size, soil type, site slope, lot size, and local regulations.

Conventional or Gravity System

In this system, the wastewater flows into the septic and through the inlet baffle. Heavy solids settle to form a sludge layer on the bottom of the tank. Lighter materials including oil and grease, float to the top forming a scum layer. The wastewater liquid in the middle flows through the outlet baffle to the drainfield. An effluent screen placed in the outlet of the septic tank is used to filter suspended solids out of the effluent.

Pressure Distribution System

Performing the same basic actions as the conventional septic systems, pressurized systems include a pump chamber that collects treated wastewater from the septic tank. They are used when there is only two to three feet of suitable soil beneath the drainfield. The pump chamber contains a pump, pump control floats, and a high-water alarm float.

Chamber System

Consisting of a series of connected chambers, the area around and above the chambers is filled with soil. Pipes carry wastewater from the septic tank to the chambers. In the chambers, the wastewater comes into contact with the soil. Microbes on or near the soil treat the effluent.

Drip Distribution System

A type of effluent dispersal that can be used in many types of drainfields, the main advantage of the drip distribution system is that no large mound of soil is needed as the drip laterals are inserted into the top six to 12 inches of soil. The disadvantage of the drip distribution system is that it requires a large dose tank after the septic tank to accommodate the timed dose delivery of wastewater to the drip absorption area.

Aerobic Treatment Unit (ATUs)

Using many of the same processes as a municipal sewage plant, but on a smaller scale, ATUs inject oxygen into the treatment tank. The additional oxygen increases natural bacterial activity within the system that then provides additional treatment for nutrients in the effluent. Some ATUs may also have a pretreatment tank and a final treatment tank including disinfection to further reduce pathogen levels. The benefits of this system are that it can be used in homes with smaller lots, inadequate soil conditions, in areas where the water table is too high, or for homes close to a surface water body sensitive to contamination by nutrients contained in wastewater effluent. Regular maintenance should be expected for ATUs.

Mound System

An option in areas of shallow soil depth, high groundwater, or shallow bedrock, the constructed sand mound contains a drainfield trench. Effluent from the septic tank flows to a pump chamber where it is pumped to the mound in prescribed doses. Treatment of the effluent occurs as it discharges to the trench and filters through the sand, and then disperses into the native soil. While mound systems can be a good solution for certain soil conditions, they require a substantial amount of space and periodic maintenance.

Recirculating Sand Filter System

Able to be constructed above or below ground, effluent flows from the septic tank to a pump chamber. It is then pumped to the sand filter. The sand filter is often PVC-lined or a concrete box filled with a sand material. Pumped under low pressure through the pipes at the top of the filter, the effluent leaves the pipes and is treated as it filters through the sand. The treated wastewater is then discharged to the drainfield. Sand filters provide a high level of treatment for nutrients and are good for sites with high water tables or that are close to water bodies. However, they are typically more expensive than a conventional septic system.

Evapotranspiration System

Featuring unique drainfields, the base of the evapotranspiration system drainfield is lined with a watertight material. After the effluent enters the drainfield, it evaporates into the air. Unlike other septic system designs, the effluent never filters to the soil and never reaches groundwater. Evapotranspiration systems are only useful in specific environmental conditions. The climate must be arid and have adequate heat and sunlight. These systems work well in shallow soil; however, they are at risk of failure if it rains or snows too much.

Constructed Wetland System

Mimicking the treatment processes that occur in natural wetlands, wastewater flows from the septic tank and enters the wetland cell. The wastewater then passes through the media and is treated by microbes, plants, and other media that remove pathogens and nutrients. The wetland cell typically consists of an impermeable liner, gravel, and sand fill, along with the appropriate wetland plants, which must be able to survive in a perpetually saturated environment. A wetland system can work via either gravity flow or pressure distribution. As wastewater flows through the wetland, it may exit the wetland and flow into a drainfield for further wastewater treatment into the soil.

Cluster/Community System

A decentralized wastewater treatment system under some form of common ownership that collects wastewater from two or more dwellings or buildings and conveys it to a treatment and dispersal system located on a suitable site near the dwellings or buildings. It is common to find cluster systems in places like rural subdivisions.

Pumps

Effluent pumps are designed to pump liquids with solids up to 3/4-inches in diameter – and most commonly for a septic system. Sewage pumps can also be used for effluent pump applications and are capable of passing two-inch solids.

When selecting a pump for a septic system, you need to consider head pressure (TDH-total dynamic head), horsepower (HP), and flow rates.

TDH: How high vertically the pump needs to push the water, the length of the horizontal run, and friction loss due to the size pipe and fittings.

Horsepower: The greater the HP, typically the more liquid a pump can move in a shorter period of time. However, you do want to size the right HP for the application because short cycling could cause shorter life for the pump.

Gallons Per Minute (GPM)/Flow Rate: The pump’s design, combined with the HP and TDH, will determine the GPM provided. Again, it is important to size the pump correctly for each separate application. If not, you can shorten the life of the pump or it may not pump at all.

At JMI, our selection of stocked effluent pumps ranges from 1/3 to 2HP, and from 42 to 164GPM at 10’ TDH. Our sewage pumps range from 4/10 to 2 HP and from 50 to 190 GPM at the same TDH. Some effluent models have a shut off head up to 70’ TDH. We offer a variety of brands, including Barnes, Little Giant, Metropolitan Industries, and JMI. There are also a number of switches to choose from to operate the pumps.

Alarms

A septic system installation should also include an alarm to alert the user of when the water level is higher or lower than it should be. The main causes of a high water level include:

  • The effluent filter is clogged.
  • The submersible pump has failed or the float that controls it failed.
  • The outlet line is plugged.

A module can be used with any alarm to automatically call/text/email notifications alerting you of the situation. There are also specific controls that can monitor all of the pump or system attributes to maintain complete awareness and record of the performance of a system.

As with all our pump products and accessories, the JMI Pump Systems professional staff can help you determine the correct pump and controls for your septic system or other pump application. Your Partners in Pumping are available at 262-253-1353 or sales@jmipumps.com to assist you.

Types of Sump Pump Switches

Pump switches provide automatic control of a pump. At JMI Pump Systems, we offer a variety, each designed to provide the best solution for your application.

Diaphragm Switches

Activated by water pressure, diaphragm switches are attached very low on the side or the body of the pump. The pressure on the switch increases as the water level rises and when the pressure increases enough to compress the bladder in the switch, it activates and turns the pump on. When the water level falls, the pressure on the bladder is reduced and it re-expands. The switch is de-energized and turns the pump off.

Tether Float Switches

As the name implies, the float is tethered to the pump and is usually used in sewage pumps or larger basins. When the water rises, the float rises causing the tether to flip the switch and turn on the pump. As the pump lowers the water level, the float drops, releasing the switch and shutting off the pump. However, some caution is advised. The float may get run up against the basin wall or pump, so always run for at least three cycles after install to confirm the appropriate tether length and that the switch will rise fully/freely.

Vertical Float Switches

This is a solid ball that floats above the water. As the water level rises, so does the float, which will trigger the switch to turn on the pump.

Electronic Float Switches

Internal sensors detect the water level. Once the switch is triggered, power is transferred to the pump, turning it on. When the water level decreases, the switch is triggered again, shutting off the power to the pump.

All Switches

We believe a piggy-back switch style (plug the pump directly into the switch plug) is one of the best options as they allow you to test the switch and pump separately when trouble shooting.

Not sure what is best for your application? Your Partners in Pumping at JMI are available at 262-253-1353 or sales@jmipumps.com to assist you.

What’s the Purpose of an Effluent Pump?

Used to pump residential “greywater,” typically from a septic tank to a leach field, effluent pumps have high heads (the height a pump can lift water before there is no more flow) and high pressure, compared to sewage ejector pumps, to efficiently push treated water out to a drain field.

Effluent pumps are designed to pump liquid with minimal solids, three-quarter-inches or less in diameter. That’s compared to sewage pumps that can handle materials up to two-inches in diameter. If the application is passing solids larger than three-quarter-inches, you run the risk of pump burn out, clogging, or backups.

Working well for residential or light commercial, effluent pumps applications include:

  • Laundry tub drains and discharge applications.
  • Dishwasher and remote sink applications.
  • Basement wet bar or sink that sits below the home’s main drainage lines.
  • Floor drains, sump pits, and septic systems.

When choosing a pump, you need to determine total dynamic head, the length of the horizontal run, and the flow rate the pump needs to handle. Effluent pumps can pump higher levels and more efficiently than other types of sewage pumps because they don’t have to handle sewage solids.

When replacing an existing pump, typically the horsepower will be the same, unless the pump stopped working after only a few months. Then you may want to consider a different horsepower – after an analysis of the application. The larger the horsepower rating, the higher the head pressure and volume of water it can handle.

At JMI, we carry many effluent pumps of various performance specifications, including JMI branded, Little Giant, Barnes, etc. Horsepower ranges from 1/3 HP to 2 HP.

As with all our pump systems, the JMI Pump Systems professional staff can help you determine the correct pump for your application. For any of your effluent pump needs, contact us at 262-253-1353 or sales@jmipumps.com.

Holiday Season Essentials

In the spirit of the season, this blog offers a bit of fun facts about Christmas and holiday traditions. Enjoy!

  • The tradition of Christmas trees goes back to ancient Egyptians and Romans, who marked the winter solstice with evergreens as a reminder that spring would return.
  • The Christmas tree gained ground as a holiday tradition when Prince Albert of Germany introduced the tree to his new wife, Queen Victoria of England. A drawing of the couple in front of a Christmas tree appeared in Illustrated London News in 1848.
  • Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer first appeared in 1939 when Montgomery Ward department store asked one of its copywriters, 34-year-old Robert L. May, to create a Christmas story the store could give away to shoppers as a promotional gimmick. In the first year of publication, 2.4 million copies of Rudolph’s story were distributed by the retailer.
  • May’s brother-in-law, songwriter Johnny Marks, decided to adapt the story of Rudolph into song. Gene Autry recorded Marks’ musical version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” in 1949.
  • Candy canes originated in Germany. The National Confectioners Association says in 1670 a choirmaster at the Cologne Cathedral gave candies to young children to keep them quiet during long church services. But it wasn't until a German-Swedish immigrant decorated his tree with candy canes in 1847 that they became popular as a Christmas candy. The tradition began to spread, and around the turn of the century, red and white stripes and peppermint flavors became the norm.
  • “Jingle Bells” was originally a Thanksgiving song. James Lord Pierpont wrote a song called “One Horse Open Sleigh” for his church's Thanksgiving concert. In 1857, the song was re-published under the title it still holds today, and it eventually became one of the most popular Christmas songs.
  • Nine days before Christmas in 1965, two astronauts aboard Gemini 6 sent an odd report to Mission Control that they saw an “unidentified flying object” about to enter Earth's atmosphere, traveling in the polar orbit from north to south. They interrupted the tense report with the sound of “Jingle Bells,” as Wally Schirra played a small harmonica accompanied by Tom Stafford on a handful of small sleigh bells they had smuggled aboard.
  • The idea of Santa Claus came from the legend of St. Nicholas, a fourth-century Christian bishop who gave away his abundant inheritance to help the needy and rescued women from servitude. His name was Sinter Klaas in Dutch, which later morphed into Santa Claus.
  • By the time the Puritans settled in Boston, celebrating Christmas had been outlawed from 1659-1681. If anyone was caught celebrating, they would face a fine.
  • After the Revolutionary War, Congress held their first session on December 25, 1789.
  • On June 28, 1870, toward the end of the legislative session, President Ulysses S. Grant signed into law a bill designating Christmas a legal, unpaid holiday for federal employees in the District of Columbia.
  • While roast beef, turkey, and spiral hams are popular fare for Christmas dinner, in Japan, it has been a longstanding tradition to consume fried chicken. In 1974, KFC capitalized on this opportunity by asking the people of Japan to enjoy Christmas with a bucket of KFC, and the Japanese responded by ordering their chicken in advance. Approximately three million KFC orders are made every year in Japan.
  • In Thailand, water is used to celebrate the New Year. Referred to as Songkran, the people of Thailand participate in water fights, which lasts for three days.
  • Ethiopia is the only country that does not utilize the 12-month calendar. They use the Coptic Calendar instead, which has 13 months and as a result, the country celebrates New Year’s Day on September 11.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the JMI Pump Systems staff. May you have a blessed and prosperous 2021.

Plugger Boxes for Pumping Installations

Plugger boxes provide convenience to connect all wiring required for a typical pumping station installation.

JMI Pump Systems offers pluggers from Alderon Industries and SJE Rhombus, which offer ease of installation and many safeguards.

The mini power post from Alderon is designed for electrical code compliance and is rated for outdoor use. It features easy and safe access to the pump and pump switch inside the vented post. All electrical wiring is in a UL listed 4X enclosure, which prevents harmful septic gases and moisture from affecting electrical wiring. Plus, the wiring box is high-impact PVC.

Options include an indoor remote alarm and indoor light; a junction for alarm float to connect to remote alarm; and riser connection kit with conduit nipples and fittings.

The post is 2.5 feet tall.

The JB Plugger also is an easy to install junction box with convenient wiring connections for use with one single phase pump in effluent and sewage chambers.

This junction box provides a convenient location to connect all wiring required for a typical pumping station installation. The junction box employs a receptacle to accept a 120VAC or 230VAC piggy-back plug and a pump plug. It also features an easy to use terminal strip which can be used for connecting an alarm system in the junction box.

The JB Plugger package ensures a liquid-tight seal and strain relief for the cable entering the junction box from the pumping station.

Features include a NEMA 4x enclosure with hinged door; separate alarm and pump control circuit; riser extension coupling and washers, customer engineered liquid tight cable seal; and strain relief for pump and float cords provided by cord seal.

Options include an alarm system for a high- or low-level alarm, pump switch for pump control, and control switch for alarm activation.

For any of your pump needs from complete systems to accessories to expert advice, contact us at 262-253-1353 or sales@jmipumps.com.

What Kind of Pump Do You Need?

JMI Pump Systems advises contractors and facility managers who are not sure what type of pump would meet their needs. In this blog, we’ll tell you about the pumps JMI offers and what they can do.

Sump Pumps

Also called drainage or clear water pump, they are installed in the lowest part of a basement or crawlspace to help keep the area under or around the building from getting saturated. The sump pump automatically pumps excess water out of the basement to a designated area.

To size a sump pump, a plumber needs to calculate the vertical height (lift) and the horizontal distance associated with the distribution of the liquid; the peak inflow rate; and the size and type of pipe; and associated fittings and valves. This will provide the total Dynamic Head (TDH) for the system and dictates your required pump GPM output and horsepower. The higher you pump and further you pump horizontally, the higher the horsepower.

Each submersible sump pump has its own pump curve with max GPM and max shutoff head, so it’s important to check the manufacturer specifications of the pump.

Effluent Pumps

Effluent pumps are capable of pumping waste solids, usually only up to ¾” diameter. The applications for these pumps include graywater such as laundry discharge, dishwasher and sink drainage, and septic systems. Again, use the TDH and max inflow of liquid to arrive at the best pump for the job.

Sewage Pumps

Sewage Pumps are used in sanitary pumping applications and are capable of passing up to 2” solids. Like the other pumps, sewage pumps come in a variety of materials of construction, sizes, and horsepower. When selecting a sewage pump, consider how many water fixture units (toilets, sinks, etc.) producing waste in the facility that will be feeding the wastewater system. Pump selection is determined as the others once you have this calculation complete.

Grinder Pumps

With their powerful cutting blades, grinder pumps break down household waste and can help alleviate potential clogs. But even so, the only items that should be going down the drains are the 3Ps – poop, paper, and pee.

Grinder pumps are typically used when pumping from a residence to a low pressurized sewer main, typically required when the gravity sewer is a long distance from the residence or there is a dramatically high vertical lift. Grinder pumps macerate the sewage, reduce it to a slurry, and then pump it through a smaller diameter pipe. The most common pump is rated 2 HP, which provides high pressure/low volumes of sewage pushing the waste over long distances, sometimes thousands of feet. The pump performance must maintain a minimum rate of flow of two feet per second.

Some grinder systems are installed with outdoor lift stations, and some indoors using a large fiberglass basin and sealed cover. Grinder pumps also require a control panel or junction box incorporating an alarm because they are serving the whole house or application.

Cutter/Chopper Pumps

Cutter Pumps are, as the name suggests, pumps that cut and pass sewage solids. Utilizing a tungsten carbide tipped impeller and a high chrome iron cutter plate, cutter pumps solve demanding sewage and wastewater applications. As the solids pass through the cutter plate, they are cut into pieces and the deep vane impeller passes them along.

Some applications for cutter pumps include hotels, restaurants, retail, and municipal pump stations. They also have uses in agriculture and food production, such as pumping manure, and water processing at slaughterhouses.

Basin

Note that no matter the type of pump, they all need to be set in a properly sized basin. The depth of the invert through the basin, the total volume of wastewater generated at its peak, and the number of pumps required all help in determining the width and depth of the basin for each specific application.

Back-up Pumps

Emergency battery or generator-powered back-up pumps should always be considered for those applications that would be in danger of flooding during main power or primary pump failure. The specific parameters of the application will determine the performance of the system required.

No matter your pumping application, JMI Pump Systems has one of the largest selections to choose from. Plus, you can depend on our expert staff to help specify the right solution for your situation. For more information, contact us at 262-253-1353 or sales@jmipumps.com.

Packaged Systems Simplify the Installation Process

The packaged systems available through JMI Pump Systems help make the life of a plumber or pump installer easier when it comes to having everything you need at the job pre-assembled and ready to go.

We build pre-packaged pump systems using products from the top names in the business, including Franklin Electric, Little Giant, Barnes, Metropolitan Industries, Tsurumi, Glentronics, Topp Industries, SJE Rhombus, Alderon, Jackel, and more.

Packaged systems simplify the installation process, as all you have to do is take it off the truck, set it in place, connect the piping and power, and off you go. Based on feedback provided by customers, we have found that “kitting” and/or pre-assembling these systems (including the correct basin, cover, pump, switch, and accessories) greatly reduces installation time and improves consistency - eliminating extra trips back to the shop or supply house during installation. Packaging by a single source results in improved responsibility in communication, knowledge, and support.

No matter your pumping application, JMI has the expertise to help you with a customized solution. Contact the JMI team at 262-253-1353 or sales@jmipumps.com for the “No Problem” Service.

JMI Pump Systems Major Announcements

New Location and Name

As we have previously announced, we are moving into the new Germantown facility in early August. Our first official day serving our customers in the new building, W194 N11695 McCormick Drive, will be August 10.

This larger building will allow us to boost production, offer more training opportunities, accommodate an expanding staff and customer base, and elevate our in-stock supply of pumps and pump system components.

As many of you know, Jim Murray Inc. has provided excellent products and services to Wisconsin and Northern Illinois since 1958. Coinciding with the relocation to our new building, we are excited to announce that we will begin operating under a new name - JMI Pump Systems.

This represents our extensive product offering, trusted service, and our unparalleled expertise to determine the proper pump system for your application. It is our belief that the new name pays tribute to our rich history, while providing a better understanding of what we do today and well into the future.

Angela and Jim Murray created a company that set itself apart with its quality service and product reliability. Their sons, James Jr. and Joe Murray, built upon their parent’s legacy and became known as the “go to” specialist and trusted source for even the most difficult pumping situations. Today, we maintain the commitment built by our founders to provide the best products and service in the industry.

Thank you for entrusting your business to us, with some of your families having done so for over six decades. Rest assured we will continue with our commitment to “No Problem” service. Please contact me or anyone on the JMI team with questions or comments. We look forward to seeing you soon – our Partners in Pumping.

Fiberglass Basins/Tanks Have Many Benefits

Fiberglass tanks are technically fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) – that is they are plastic tanks that have been reinforced with fiberglass, similar to the way that rebar strengthens concrete.

The benefits of FRP include reliability and corrosion resistance for both above- and below-ground applications. Underground tanks are suitable for a variety of liquid materials, however, our focus at JMI is on water and sewage applications. There are additional tanks available for onsite wastewater collection and treatment systems for residential or commercial applications such as sewage, stormwater, and effluent lift stations.

One of the advantages of fiberglass tanks is that they are watertight, lightweight, durable (corrosion and abrasion resistant), and have high strength-to-weight ratios. We also offer chemical compatible vinyl ester resin based tanks.

For our fiberglass catch basins, the most popular size is the 36” x 48”, which meets many code requirements for interior garage catch basins. Pair this with our frame and grate and you have JMI’s popular “Big Easy” offering.

All of our fiberglass basins come with heavy duty anti-flotation flanges, and we stock basins with a diameter up to 48”and a depth up to 144”. Also available in stock are all respective covers (steel, PVC, structural foam, and of course fiberglass) along with all associated basin and cover accessories and components.

Fiberglass is a quality product, but performance in the field requires engineering and project expertise. JMI staff have the experience, skills, and knowledge to help you with any water or sewage application.

If you need a fiberglass tank or basin, contact the JMI team at 800-234-5490 or sales@jmipumps.com for “No Problem” Service.

Signs a New Sump Pump May be Needed

We are often asked how long a sump pump should last. The answer is, it’s variable, but a rule of thumb is seven to ten years. (We still have JMI pumps out there since 1958!) However, there are some signs that signal a pump system needs to be serviced or replaced.

Continual running

If your pump runs all the time for no reason, it may be that it doesn’t have a strong enough GPM performance for the volume of incoming water, or the HP to overcome the application TDH (Total Dynamic Head). This can be a sizing issue, as one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to sump pumps.

Strange noises

You may often hear a humming noise when the pump is running, but excessive motor noise can mean a failed bearing. Rattling or grinding noises could also indicate a jammed or damaged impeller.

Failure to turn on when needed

This could mean the float switch is stuck or part of the float mechanism is broken. Also, you may need to check the breaker in your panel.

Continual cycling of turning on and turning off

This can be a result of a power issue, or a float switch issue, but most likely is a basin and/or pump sizing issue. This is the other side of the coin and related to the continual running above. If a pump installed actually is too high of HP or GPM performance, it can shorten the life of the pump with too many start/stops in a short period of time. This causes excessive heat in motors and speeds up the life cycle of the switch.

Flooding

A heavy flow into the sump pump pit can be a result of a high-water table or underground spring. It also could be the result of excessive rain or less than ideal drainage away from the house. The problem can be addressed by installing a duplex system; another pump and basin in another part of the basement (tying into the drain tile or adding additional tile); or upgrading the pump system.

If you need help determining the age or condition of the pump, contact the team at JMI Pump Systems at 800-234-5490 or sales@jmipumps.com.

Lastly - We always recommend you have a battery backup system in case of power outage or primary pump failure. At the very least, install an alarm (with text alerts available) so you are notified while you still have time before flooding. Again, call JMI for the many options available.