Below is information about grinder pumps, the role of the County in the permitting and inspection process, and contact information for the manufacturer.
1. What is a Grinder Pump?
A grinder pump stores, grinds and pumps wastewater under pressure to a central sewer.
2. Is there a history of grinder pump complaints to the County?
Based on County records from the last five years, there is no history of grinder pump issues. In many cases, the repair work performed on the grinder pump systems was considered ordinary repair and maintenance under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code; therefore, a County Building Permit was not required.
3. Does the E-One Grinder Pump meet code requirements?
The E-One grinder meets the minimum code requirements; therefore, the County is required to accept/approve the use of these systems.
The County operates under the Virginia Uniform Statewide Building Code (VUSBC), which is a State regulation promulgated by the Virginia Board of Housing and Community Development. The VUSBC establishes the minimum regulations to govern the construction and maintenance of buildings and structures. The County does not have the legal authority to establish regulations that are more restrictive than the State regulations. Under the VUSBC, any building permit application that complies with the requirements of the Code shall be issued a permit.
4. What may cause problems with Grinder Pumps?
Common problems to grinder pumps include damage caused by heavy construction after the original installation and inspection approval; improper repairs done without permits or inspections, and improper disposal of items placed into the system. According to manufacturer specifications the following items should not be placed in the system: glass; metal; gravel; sand (including aquarium stone) and coffee grounds; seafood shells; socks, rags or cloths; plastic; sanitary napkins or tampons; disposable diapers, kitty litter, explosives, flammable materials; lubricating oil, grease, cooking oil and paint; powdered detergents, strong chemicals; gasoline or diesel, and stormwater runoff.
The useful life of a grinder pump is typically seven to ten years. Since many of the homes constructed in the Piedmont Community received an Occupancy Permit between 2002 and 2004, many pumps are starting to reach the outer limits of their useful life.
5. What is the life expectancy of a grinder pump?
The average life expectancy for a grinder pump is seven to ten years. This assumes the system is properly maintained. Please be sure to read your owner’s manual to obtain specific maintenance needs related to your system. The Zoeller website (http://www.zoellerpumps.com
) references seven to ten years of useful life for the pump it makes to replace the E-One Pump.
According to information provided by E-One, its grinder pump comes with a limited warranty that guarantees its product to be free from defects in materials and factory workmanship for a period of two years from installation or 27 months from the date of shipment (whichever comes first).
6. Are there other pumps on the market to replace the E-One System, and can local contractors install them?
According to local plumbing supply companies, a replacement pump manufactured by the Zoeller Pump Company (http://www.zoellerpumps.com
) will work in the E-One grinder pump system (rails and housing). This pump is available at local plumbing supply houses, and may be installed by a variety of plumbing contractors (including local ones).
7. What is the County’s inspection process for the installation of grinder pump systems?
For replacement of the holding tank in an existing occupied house, the County requires the backfill to be placed around the holding tank to just beneath the inlet and outlet pipes. This is allowed to minimize the safety risk of having an open ditch/hole next to an occupied home. The inspection verifies the tank, alarms, plumbing/pipe connections and the material to be used as backfill.
For new houses, currently the County requires the backfill to be placed adjacent to the ditch/hole so the concrete base under the pump can be inspected, in addition to the tank, alarms, plumbing pipe/connections. Since the house is new and is not occupied, the safety risk is limited to on-site construction workers. (Note: Prior to 2007, the County conducted the inspection by the same standard as the replacement system. However, as a result of valid complaints in new homes in the Coles district, in 2007, the County changed the inspection requirement for new houses with regard to visually inspecting the material to be used as backfill and the placement of the concrete base.)
8. If the system needs to be repaired or replaced, what County permits and inspections are required?
Given the variety of repairs that may be necessary, permit and inspection requirements will vary. From a general perspective, repairs related to the grinder pump do not require a permit, while a total system replacement will require County permits. A licensed and bonded contractor will be familiar with the County permitting requirements related to the specific repair/replacement project. If you would like more information regarding your repair/replacement project, please contact us at 703-792-6930 or BDD@pwcgov.org
9. To whom should I complain about a manufacturer or contractor, or express a concern with a business operating as a monopoly?
10. Where are grinder pumps typically installed?
For single family homes, grinder pumps are typically installed in the yard or in the basement of the home.
11. Can I take out the grinder pit?
You may contact the Service Authority to explore the options available for treating your sewage.
12. What can the County do if a system is installed improperly?
There is a two year statute of limitations (measured from the occupancy permit issuance) within which complaints relating to building code inspections must be filed in order to receive assistance from the County in resolving issues.
Staff can research and monitor issues, and, if warranted, address the problem through a change in County process and procedures, or through recommending a State Building Code change.
The County would like to keep a record of issues related to grinder pump systems, so please contact our office to update us on any issues (aside from maintenance). Please submit the following information to us at BDD@pwcgov.org:
• Your Property Address
• Daytime Phone Number
• Detailed description of the specific issues you are having
Please share this information with others who may be experiencing similar issues.