Szuster Ball Check Valves

JMI is the exclusive distributor of Szuster Valves in southeastern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Elbow ball check valves are primarily used in pumping stations, lift stations, and sewer systems.

Szuster system elbow check valves are made from cast iron (1¼″- 2″) or ductile iron (3″-12″). Their optimal ranges of working pressure are adapted to the pressure occurring in the sewage systems (145 PSI or 230 PSI).

The Szuster valve substitutes an elbow on the pipeline and eliminates one flange joint (the COMBI check valve eliminates two flange connections). It is located at a right angle and connects a vertical pipe with the horizontal one. Please note that the technology of ESK check valves allows using them on surface and underground installations.

The elbow check valves, type ESK or COMBI, can be mounted in horizontal and vertical drainage systems.

Compared to traditional ball check valves, Szuster Valves benefits include:

For Pumps:

  • Enables more compact construction of the pump canopy.
  • Low service time – less than 15 minutes to service.
  • Quick replacement time – customers can quickly replace the valve balls themselves without damaging the equipment.

For Pumping Stations:

  • Space saving allowing for use of a much smaller tank.
  • Quick replacement time.
  • Full opening at the velocity of 0.7 m/s providing efficiency.
  • Significant reduction of vibration for more quiet operation.

For Waterworks:

  • Full opening at the velocity of 0.7 m/s and constant local resistance coefficient.
  • Easy access to valves interior and the ball which enables: placing the cover in the so-called servicing position; inspection of the inlet pipeline (including the pump impeller) and inspection of the pressure pipeline.
  • Reduction of vibrations making the system work more quietly.

For Engineers:

  • Combined solution – a two-in-one compact solution (elbow and check valve) or even a three-in-one compact solution (elbow, check valve, and knife gate valve).
  • Fully open position and constant local resistance coefficient.
  • Reduction of vibrations.

Additional Options

Type of Check Valve

  • Version with floating ball (F) with a specific weight of approx. 49.9 lbs./ft3
  • Version with quasi ball (Q) with a specific weight of approx. 63.7 lbs./ft3
  • Version with drainage (drain plug) (D)

Examples of Application

  • Backwater protection (valve is fully opened with the velocity of 0.66 f ps)
  • Lift stations, lift stations with separation of solids, pumps with inverter
  • Pumps, dry lift stations, gravity installations with anti-reflux valves

Contact us at 262-253-1353 or for more information about the Szuster Valve system. At JMI, we have multiple options in stock! You can count on Your Partners in Pumping for any of your pump system and accessory needs.

JMI’s Product Selection Can’t Be Beat

Whether it’s new construction or retrofits, the team at JMI Pumps Systems is ready to serve you with the vast line of manufactured products we represent, along with our expertise and experience. We’re known for our pumps, but we also supply prefab lift stations, basins, covers, control panels alarms, and pump accessories from the top names in the business.

We maintain an extensive in-stock inventory and keep abreast of new products from our suppliers. Here are just a few.

TOPP Non-Skid Fiberglass Septic Riser Covers

TOPP offers a Non-Skid, Kelp Green Fiberglass Septic Riser Cover to fit most 24” diameter risers, corrugated and ultra-rib pipe. The cover is non- corrosive, strong, lightweight and can withstand a 2,500-pound wheel load. The built-in cover gasket provides a watertight and gas tight seal. This cover is also cost effective, maintenance free, high impact resistant, and provides exceptional uniformity, dimensional accuracy, and stability. Covers range up to 82 pounds with half-inch thickness. Bolt holes are pre-drilled for quick and easy assembly with stainless steel hardware included.

A Positive Pipe-to-Tank Seal for Flat or Curved Surfaces

TOPP is an original supplier of Uniseal Pipe Seals. Designed for holding tanks, the Uniseal also works well in any application where pipe penetrations are required. Uniseals quickly create a secure watertight seal without any adhesive, hardware, or threads and can be used through the walls of any container or filter box.

Ideal for hydroponic growers, pond suppliers, and reef and marine industries, proven applications include wastewater lift stations, valve boxes, sump risers, pump stations, dispenser pans, junction boxes, cooling systems, and boats.

TOPP Uniseal features include:

  • models available for accommodating 3/8” piping (through 1” hole) up to 6” piping (through 7” hole)
  • easy installation
  • tough, pliable thermoplastic material
  • excellent resistance to most chemical compounds, petroleum products, methanol, ethanol, and most soil compounds.

The seal can be used with PVC, galvanized steel, copper, EMT, rigid conduit, fiberglass, and polyethylene pipe.

Barnes Razor Grinder Pump

Razor grinder pumps are the ideal 2 HP pump for light commercial and residential solids handling applications, including pressure sewer and municipal wastewater. The Razor is thoughtfully designed with an innovative axial cutting technology to efficiently reduce solids like flushable wipes, diapers, and other non-biodegradable items commonly found in the modern waste stream.

The Razor features a dual voltage, oil-filled motor with optimal cutting torque performance in low voltage situations. The grinder pump also has heavy duty, oil-lubricated bearings to extend the pump's life and is available with either a dual or single stage impeller. There are multiple configurations available to easily adapt into existing applications. The Razor grinder pump is easy to service and maintain, needing only a single tool to assemble.

High Performance With Barnes Envie3 Motor Platform

The Barnes envie3 motor platform's ability to continuously run in air means that its minimum required submergence is significantly lower than the competitions. This allows customers to set floats lower, resulting in more regular turnover of the lift station, reduced FOG buildup, and less chance for the station going septic.

Envie3 high efficiency air-filled motors come without application limitations. It’s patent pending, closed loop glycol cooling system keeps motors stress-free, even in the most demanding applications. It is suitable for shallow wells, high water tables, and rocky terrain and available in both vertical and horizonal configurations. The envie3 is easy to service with plug & play cord and commercially available mechanical seals and bearing components.

Plus, it’s premium efficient IE3 motor delivers significant energy savings versus traditional motor offerings. Designed to run both submerged and dry run, these motors are available with Barnes and Deming chopper and non-clog pumps.

No matter your pumping applications or needs, you can depend on JMI’s expert staff to help find the right solution for you. For more information, call 800-234-5490 or email

Understanding Three-Phase Motors

Three-phase motors are commonly used in large pump applications, such as those affiliated with agriculture and manufacturing operations, as opposed to the single-phase motors typically found in residential and light-non-industrial applications.

Single phase power is not recommended for use on motors greater than 5HP because a single-phase motor draws significantly higher current than a three-phase motor of the same horsepower rating. Based on cost, single-phase motors are less efficient compared to three-phase, increasing operational costs.

For larger applications requiring efficiency and consistency, a three-phase motor is the best option. The advantages to using a three-phase motor include:

  • Energy savings, as three-phase motors use up to 90% less power to do the same work as a single-phase motor and can turn over the same amount of water at a lower pump speed. Three-phase motors can transmit three times the amount of power of a single source, while using only 1.5 times the amount of conducting wires.
  • Three-phase motors provide smooth, balanced power. The consistency in the supply of power is due to three identical overlapping wave cycles, which are evenly spaced 120 degrees apart, so the supplied power remains constant.
  • The constant power potential is not only preferable, but necessary in many situations where the business, farm, or factory needs and depends on consistent power.
  • Three-phase motors can run at a higher voltage with thinner gauge wire due to the lower amperage used. The lower pump speed and reduced friction also produces less stress and cooler temperatures for other components. Plus, there is less vibration, reducing stress on pipes.
  • A three-phase motor water pump has a simple design and smaller body size, also resulting in cost savings. Their reliability and longer life span also extends the pump replacement interval.

Important Installation Note — Check the Pump’s Rotation

One critical factor that must be adhered to after the power is supplied and before the pump is lowered into the basin is to check the pump’s rotation so the performance desired is achieved and no damage occurs. Not to mention the time and energy required to reverse the issue after the fact.

Three-phase power is easily wired to run a pump in reverse; the motor can run forward or backwards (clockwise and counter-clockwise). Even with running backwards (or in the wrong direction), the pump will still function – and pump water, but this type of misuse will eventually cause pump/motor failure.

Three-phase pumps have stickers, engravings, or casted directional arrows indicating the rotation direction when looking at the entire pump/motor assembly. To test, give the pump a quick bump of power and check that the impeller is rotating in the same direction as the arrow. If a three-phase motor rotates in the wrong direction, you can swap any two leads to change the desired direction. Just make sure you test the motor again before installing and note the terminal/wire color combination as well.

With installations where more than one pump is being installed, rotation must be checked on each pump. Do not assume the color coded wires from the pump are the same – they typically are but not always.

If you have questions on this or the rest of your application, the pros at JMI Pump Systems are ready to help. Your Partners in Pumping since 1958 are available to assist you at 262-253-1353 or

Duplex Pumps – How They Work and Where You Use Them

In Wisconsin, duplex pump systems are required by code in commercial buildings when there are three or more water closets or more than 20DFU’s draining into a sewage basin. Duplex systems are also used in large volume stormwater pump stations, as well as when redundancy is desired.

The duplex pump system is one of the most common configurations in a pump station design, providing efficiency and redundancy. The duplex design is often referred to as lead/lag systems because the standby pump (lag) is activated as demand exceeds the capacity of the lead pump or if the lead pump were simply to fail.

For example, a typical design requirement for pumping wastewater is that a single pump will discharge more than the peak inflow. In wastewater and sewer applications, the peak flow needs to be able to be pumped by the lift station even if it never occurs.

An alternator controlling the duplex system allows the pumps to cycle between starts, resulting in even wear on the pumps. If one pump needs to be serviced, the system remains automatic by utilizing the lag pump.

The alternating control panel is typically operated by three control float switches: stop float, lead float, and lag/alarm float. There are some systems that do use four floats, separating the lag and the alarm function.

The stop float is the float that turns off whichever pump was called on to run. The lead float is the float that runs whichever pump happens to be called on for at that cycle. In a three float system, the third float is the lag/alarm float. If the liquid reaches this float, the lag pump will turn on and the alarm will sound, warning there is a system problem. At this time, the pump(s) will continue to run until the stop float is lowered to the stop position. The next time the lead float is triggered, the other pumps will assume the “lead” role.

The alarm must be installed on a separate electrical circuit, separate from the circuits feeding the pumps. If one breaker is being used for the incoming pump power for both pumps, it needs to be sized for the possibility of both pumps starting and running at the same time. It is highly recommended to have separate circuits for both pumps and the alarm, totaling three circuits.

The controls can be purpose-built, a PLC or programable I/O. PLC controls can be enhanced with an HMI (Human Machine Interface) Touch Display to directly interact with sensors, valves, pumps, motors, and more.

JMI Pump Systems also offers an assortment of steel, stainless steel, and custom PVC cover options for pump basins as well as packaged systems with controls. The standard covers we provide will typically maintain separate access for pumps and floats for improved serviceability.

JMI Pump Systems professionals are able to assist you with finding the best duplex system for your application. For more information, Your Partners in Pumping are available at 262-253-1353 or

Adding a Water Booster Pump to Increase Pressure

Water booster pumps help increase the pressure and volume of water to faucets, showerheads, toilets, hose bibs, and the like in both residential and commercial (particularly high-rise) applications.

There are several reasons for low-water pressure. Gravity is one because the higher the level at which the water needs to be supplied, the lower the water pressure. Distance from the water source and the diameter of the water pipe also affects pressure. If a home or building is at the end of the water supply line, the pressure will likely be lower by the time it reaches the structure. Low water flow can also result from low pressure water from the local water plant. Plus, additional water treatment systems or other water-using devices will reduce water pressure, such as iron curtains, water softeners, and R/O systems.

Although a water booster pump will increase pressure, keep in mind that as the pressure required to move water increases, the volume actually does not increase. As a matter of fact, the opposite occurs. Think of it as water running from your hose. If you put your thumb over the nozzle, the water comes out at a higher pressure, but the flow rate is restricted. Booster pumps have a similar end result – as pressure increases, flow decreases.

Which booster pump you need depends on the amount of water used, the desired discharge pressure, and the application of the water source. Are you sizing for a single-story home, multiple level apartment complex, or a very tall building? Is the water from a tank, lake, pond, or municipal water supply?

The pump professionals at JMI Pump Systems can help you select just the right size pump for your application. We particularly like the options Franklin Electric offers.

For example, their Subdrive Inline 1100 works in the following applications: boosted and constant water pressure from water storage/cistern systems; for homes in both private and municipal applications; sprinkler systems; farming and commercial wash down systems; and general pressure boosting.

The simplex packaged system includes pump, motor, drive, and pressure switch. It features a small and compact design to fit into small areas, even between floor joists, and is one of the only boosters with a zero foot print. Multiple mounting configurations allow for the unit to be installed where needed, whether horizontal, vertical, or upside down. The pump provides up to 40 gpm and/or up to an additional 60 psi.

The Inline 1100 SpecPak connects to nearly any commercial, industrial, or multi-residential plumbing configuration. Thanks to its modular form, it offers the flexibility to add pump models to the base package so the system can grow to accommodate new or unexpected water demands.

The pump itself is a quiet, all-in-one constant water pressure system. As water volume needs increase, the pump instantly accelerates to the proper speed to ensure the water pressure stays constant throughout the application.

The 1100 SpecPak is offered in simplex through quadplex, providing maximum flow rates from 40 to 160 gpm, and up an additional 60 psi. The system comes prepackaged and ready for installation virtually anywhere. Simply hook up piping, add power, and it’s ready to use.

JMI also provides the traditional floor mounted boost packages build to your required specifications. 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 pump application. Your Partners in Pumping are available at 262-253-1353 or to assist you.

What Other Things to Consider When Selecting a Pump

When selecting a pump, there are many criteria. But the most important consideration is selecting the pump to meet system requirements, not the other way around. What is meant by that is “tried and tested” pumps may not be the most effective as the application parameters may have changed – or even the pump. The optimal approach is to assess the entire system to improve performance, efficiency, and reliability.

When choosing a pump, consider the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). You might think the actual pump purchase is an important element of TCO, but in fact, the initial cost of the pump accounts for only 10% of the TCO, while energy consumption accounts for a whopping 65%. Other TCO components include:

  • Installation and commissioning costs (including training)
  • Energy costs (predicted cost for system operation, including pump driver, controls, and any auxiliary services)
  • Operation costs (labor cost of normal system supervision)
  • Maintenance and repair costs (routine and predicted repairs)
  • Downtime costs (loss of production)
  • Environmental costs (contamination from pumped liquid and auxiliary equipment)
  • Removal and disposal costs

So, while initial cost needs to be considered, you see there are many more factors in the TCO. Most importantly for specifiers or purchasing agents is to overlook the initial cost and buy a pump system that will work best for the application, handle the materials or volume, manage the flow of energy, and ensure reliability. An incorrect purchase can result in more money spent over time on repairs, poor energy efficiency, or lost production potential.

Energy Efficiency

The energy consumption required for any system depends on the flow rate of the entire system, including the pressure (head) and how often the pumps are operating. Some pumps run all the time, whether the process needs all that flow or not. When systems divert flow, operators are paying for power they are not using productively.

One way to reduce the energy consumption is by utilizing a Variable Frequency Drive (VFD), which can increase or decrease flow as needed. You can purchase a VFD that has the pump performance programmed in by the factory or retrofit existing pumps. Retrofitting requires that you have the space to install the VFD near the pump. In addition, installing instrumentation and connecting it as well as programming creates opportunities for error.

Another solution to offset energy costs is to use a bank of large and small pumps and stage them to turn on and off to meet demand.

Tip: Pumps that have an HI (Hydraulics Institute) Energy Rating Label will increase the savings.

Product selection

Consider the pump’s footprint — Frame Mounted vs. Close Coupled vs. Inline

How much available space and the pump’s footprint are factors to consider in the selection process.

Frame mounted pumps include a bearing housing to prolong the life of the bearings and allows for continuous operation with high radial and thrust loads. Typically used for larger applications where power ratings range from 20 hp to 200 hp, frame mounted pumps don’t need custom motors, giving you more choices to select a motor that meets the needs of your application.

Close coupled pumps occupy a smaller footprint and have only one set of bearings inside the motor casing. Because they do not need couplings, as the motor is directly mounted to the pump on a single shaft, they are also typically less expensive than frame mounted. However, the motor bearing must handle the axial and radial loads of the applications, which limits the size and power of the motor used. Close coupled pumps may be limited to 100 hp to 150 hp but offer space savings of 20%.

Inline pumps can dramatically reduce the footprint. Flow enters and exits on a single axis, requiring minimal floor space. For example, inline pumps can occupy a third of the floor space compared to a typical frame-mounted pump. Keep in mind that an inline pump also requires vertical space because they typically have a vertical motor above the pump.

Flow Requirements and Fluid Properties

When choosing a pump, fluid properties must be considered: density, viscosity, solids content, and temperature. Understanding fluid properties are critical to avoid failure or the need for continuous and costly maintenance. Key considerations include:

Acidity/alkalinity and chemical composition. Corrosive and acidic fluids can degrade pumps and should be considered when selecting pump materials.

Operating temperature. Pump materials and expansion, mechanical seal components, and packing materials need to be considered with pumped fluids that are hotter than 200°F.

Solid’s concentrations/particle sizes. When pumping abrasive liquids such as industrial slurries, selecting a pump that will not clog or fail prematurely depends on particle size, hardness, and the volumetric percentage of solids.

Specific gravity. The fluid specific gravity is the ratio of the fluid density to that of water under specified conditions. Specific gravity affects the energy required to lift and move the fluid and must be considered when determining pump power requirements.

Vapor pressure. A fluid’s vapor pressure is the force per unit area that a fluid exerts to change phase from a liquid to a vapor and depends on the fluid’s chemical and physical properties. Proper consideration of the fluid’s vapor pressure will help to minimize the risk of cavitation.

Viscosity. The viscosity of a fluid is a measure of its resistance to motion. Since kinematic viscosity normally varies directly with temperature, the pumping system designer must know the viscosity of the fluid at the lowest anticipated pumping temperature. High viscosity fluids result in reduced centrifugal pump performance and increased power requirements. It is particularly important to consider pump suction-side line losses when pumping viscous fluids.

The Flow Rate Factor

The flow rate is determined by total volume and the time to move the fluid through the casing and out to the desired location or piping system.

For example, with centrifugal pumps, the flow varies with changing pressure. These pumps impart momentum to the fluid by rotating impellers that are immersed in the fluid. The momentum produces an increase in pressure and when pressure is created, flow results.

When a system includes a centrifugal pump, an important design issue is matching the head loss-flow characteristic with the pump so that it operates at or close to the point of its maximum efficiency. When fluids of higher viscosity move through the system, the pump’s efficiency with decrease in head and flow.

On the other hand, a positive displacement pump can handle many applications that include viscous products. They can operate at high pressure and relatively low flow more efficiently. However, they are less able to handle low viscosity rates than centrifugal pumps.

These are many nuances to choosing the correct pump, with these listed being just a few to keep in mind. So, which pump to choose? That’s where the JMI Pump Systems team can help. Our knowledgeable and experienced professionals are available to assist you in finding the right pump for an application. For more information, contact us at 262-253-1353 or

Note: Content for this blog includes information from the following resources: Processing Magazine, Pumps & Systems magazine, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

Sump Pump Alarms Are an Essential Add-On

In our last blog, we talked about the importance of battery back up pumps and some helpful accessories, including switches and alarms. In this blog, we will go into more detail about the importance of sump pump alarms as well as the alarms JMI Pump Systems offers.

Having a sump pump alarm is critical to alert end users about high water levels, power outages, and sump pump failure. Like a smoke detector, the alarm emits a high-pitched sound that can be heard throughout the house. Without an alarm, unchecked water invasion can result in costly repairs that can be in the thousands of dollars.

While a basic alarm will alert the end user in house, what happens if there is no one around to hear it. That’s where Wi-Fi alarms come into play. Wi-Fi alarms will alert you no matter where you are via a phone call, text, or email.

Battery backup sump pumps and alarm systems are the first line of defense against the extensive and expensive damage caused by basement flooding.

Ultimately, you want an alarm that alerts you no matter where you are, sends messages when the power goes out, and sends messages directly to your mobile device, so you can take immediate action. Here is a sampling of sump pump alarms we offer.

SJE Rhombus Xpert Alert™ Indoor Alarm System

This alarm helps protect homes from potentially costly damage due to flooding, pump failure, or freezing pipes.

When the tank level rises, the high-water float activates the alarm (audible and visual) to alert the homeowner of potentially threatening liquid level conditions.

The Xpert Alert™ also monitors low temperature conditions. When the temperature drops below 40°F (4°C), the low temperature indicator LED turns from green to red and the alarm sounds to alert the homeowner of the condition. This function can be disabled in cold climates.

In addition, the Xpert Alert™ includes auxiliary contacts for attachment of remote devices and has an automatic alarm reset. The switching mechanism operates on low voltage and is isolated from the power line to reduce the possibility of shock. The complete package includes a standard SJE MilliAmpMaster™ control switch.

The Xpert Alert™ is CSA Certified and covered by SJE Rhombus’ five-year limited warranty.

Most importantly, the Xpert Alert® indoor alarm system with Wi-Fi connectivity monitors and reports two separate alarm conditions for sump pump basins, lift pump chambers, holding tanks, sewage, agricultural and other water applications. The system monitors and reports any residential alarm condition by notifying locally (audible and visual) and remotely (SMS text message and/or email) over a Wi-Fi or Ethernet network to a smartphone, tablet, or computer. You can even include your plumber on the list of people to receive an alert.

No cellular connection is needed (no monthly fees), but it does require the homeowner to have a reliable Wi-Fi network and connection to the internet.

Compact NEMA 1 rated indoor enclosure is designed for easy installation.

Tank Alarm and Sump Advisor from Alderon

Alderon’s VersAlarm tank alarm can be used in applications such as septic tanks, sumps, holding tanks, pump chambers, water tanks, and more. It provides immediate notification of threatening high water levels.

The VertiMAC Sump Advisor is a float operated pump switch system, typically used in sump pump applications or situations where a regular pump switch cannot operate due to limited space. A Sump Advisor sensor is attached to the top of the VertiMAC pump switch, eliminating the need to mount a separate alarm float switch. The sensor integrates high level alarm and pump run switches that are connected to the Sump Advisor alarm panel. The alarm panel has a 9-volt battery backup (customer supplied) and auxiliary dry contacts for high level alarm and pump run status that can be connected to a building automation system (BAS) or auto dialers. Available in 120VAC or 240VAC, bare lead (no plug) or piggyback plug, 13 Amp models.

PHCC Pro Series Connect Wi-Fi Module is designed for easy installation, linking the pump systems to a home Wi-Fi, security system, or home automation system. Notifications can be sent by email or a text message to a smartphone, tablet, or computer.

PS-Wi-Fi module connects wireless to PHCC servers that watch over the sump pump system automatically. The servers constantly collect and analyze incoming data from the sump pump or battery backup, checking for potential issues. When an issue is detected, PS-Wi-Fi automatically sends alarm text messages.

The DFC2 and VFC2 alarms (LED, Beep) and remote notification terminals activate when: AC power is out; pump ran for 10 minutes continuously; and the 9-volt alarm backup battery is low. A flashing green light indicates the controller is active. The latest model has a plug on the bottom to allow the water sensor float (sold separately) to be plugged in to provide an instant audible, LED, and remote notification based on water level.

No matter your pumping applications or needs, you can depend on our expert staff to help choose the right solution for you. For more information, contact us at 262-253-1353 or

Battery Backup Sump Pumps – A Money Saver for Homeowners

Yes, we all know water leaks have the potential to do thousands of dollars of damage. But many homeowners underestimate the cost of property damage and it’s safe to assume there is a vast majority who aren’t aware of the risk involved.

According to a Chubb* Homeowners’ Risk Survey, half of all homeowners (51%) think a plumbing or appliance water leak costs less than $5,000 in damages. However, according to the Insurance Information Institute, the average water leak costs more than $10,000 in damages. According to Chubb’s internal claims data from 2014-2018, the average water leak cost is more than $55,000 for financially successful homeowners, and the average water back-up loss for homeowners was almost $45,000.

Of course, it all depends on what you have in the basement. A finished basement with carpeting, furniture, electronics, etc., will skew to the higher end. But even a basic basement that houses a furnace, water heater, washer and dryer, replacement costs can be in the thousands.

A common cause of basement water issues is sump pump failure. Because the sump pump is in the basement, it’s not uncommon for homeowners to even know if it has failed until the basement is filling with water. Common causes of sump pump failure include:

  • Power outages
  • The level control is obstructed or fails
  • Buildup on the float or debris in the sump pit
  • Mechanical failure

Any of those malfunctions lead to water infiltration damage, which is why a battery back-up sump pump is essential for any homeowner or landlord.

A battery backup is a separate pump installed adjacent to the primary electric pump in the sump basin. It typically runs on 12- or 24-volt DC battery power and can either be plumbed into the primary discharge pipe or installed with its own independent discharge pipe.

The battery backup sump pump has its own float switch so that when the water rises in the sump, it raises the float and the backup pump is activated. This is important for two reasons:

  1. If the primary pump cannot keep up with the inflow due to excessive amounts of water entering the sump pit during an abnormal event, the backup pump will assist the primary pump in evacuating the water.
  2. In the event of a power disruption or primary pump/level control failure, it will assume the role as the primary pump allowing time for the power to be restored or the AC electric pump system to be serviced.

Run times of battery backup pumps vary, depending on how often they are pumping water (say every five minutes vs. every minute). It also depends on how large the battery is (40 amps vs. 120 amps).

Maintenance also comes into play. After a few years, a 12-volt battery will lose some of its ability to hold a charge, resulting in less run time. It’s recommended to replace a battery every three or five years.

Battery backup sump pumps are a great protective measure for homeowners. But the homeowner may also want to know when a problem exits with or without the backup pump. This is where alarm systems come in.

The basic, most inexpensive water alarm only does one thing. A loud beeping when water is present. Some of these beeping alarms can be as strong as 100 decibels, but that doesn’t help if the homeowner is not in the house.

Another alarm option is a dialer, which calls a stored phone number or numbers and sends a recorded message when there is an alarm condition.

Much more popular, the Wi-Fi-enabled alarms also can be installed in the sump pit and in the event of high water, will text or email notifications.

Another alternative are sump pumps that have built-in alarm systems. Many of these smart systems allow you to check the diagnostics of the pump as well as receiving real-time updates.

Having a portable generator can keep the sump pump running, but there are many safety precautions to consider. For example, a portable generator cannot be used inside the house or adjacent garage because of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Also, generators pose a risk of shock and electrocution when operated in wet conditions. If power must be generated during a storm, protect the generator from moisture by running it under an overhang or a portable shelter. Any extension cord used to plug in needs to be heavy duty, outdoor rated and have a wire gauge that can handle the electric load of any connected device.

A whole home generator, which turns on automatically when the power is off, will keep the entire home powered up. But whole home generators are expensive and need to be professionally installed.

Our next blog will include a product round-up of alarms available from JMI Pump Systems. In the meantime, the JMI professional staff can help you with selecting a backup sump pump system for your location. Your Partners in Pumping are available at 262-253-1353 or to assist you.

*(Chubb is the marketing name used to refer to subsidiaries of Chubb Limited providing insurance and related services.)

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.


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.


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 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 to assist you.