Grinder Pumps, Remote Sentries and Winterization Procedure

Amy Lowell, Wastewater Superintendent, has provided the following information in response to those who have asked what steps they should take to winterize their grinder pump units if they will be gone for the winter.

Grinder Pumps, Remote Sentries and Winterization Procedure

This information is being provided in response to questions we’ve received from some residents. This is also being forwarded to electricians and plumbers doing work in the LPSSA area.

(1) Remote Sentry Must Be Installed
A “Remote Sentry” is being provided by the Town with each grinder pump unit. The Remote Sentry must be installed at each grinder pump property, at an indoor location where the property owner can see and hear it. The Remote Sentry sounds an alarm (and a small red light lights up on it) when the “High Level” is reached in the pump unit. When this alarm goes off, there is about 23 gallons of storage remaining in the pump unit before the wastewater backs up into the building sewer line (see the pump unit detail sheet for pump unit off, on, alarm and inlet levels). The Remote Sentry will alarm even when the power is out (which the Pump Control Panel will NOT), because the Remote Sentry’s alarm is battery powered. The batteries in the Remote Sentry should be changed once a year, for example when the property’s smoke detector batteries are changed.

(2) Grinder Pump Winterization (revised 11/10/16)

If you occupy your LPSSA property year-round and/or if you do not have a grinder pump as part of your sewer connection, this does not apply to you.

Owners of properties that are not occupied in the winter already have a procedure for winterizing their home (draining plumbing and fixtures, shutting off the water, etc).  Many property owners have a plumber do the winterization for them every year.  It is recommended that whoever winterizes the property add the few steps listed in the Grinder Pump Winterization Procedures Memo (below) to their annual winterizing procedure.   The Winterization Memo has also been circulated to plumbers and contractors doing LPSSA sewer connections.

In response to questions we received on the Winterization Procedures memo dated 10/31/16, we have revised and reissued the memo (see below).   The main change is that the term “food-grade” was removed from the description of antifreeze.  It was called “food grade” to distinguish it from engine antifreeze, but it’s the same non-toxic antifreeze used in RVs and in home winterizing – propylene glycol/alcohol based.  The antifreeze costs ~ $3 per gallon and can be purchased at Home Depot or Walmart for example.

The Town also clarified the instructions for pressing and holding the pump “run” button on the control panel.

Thank you.

Amy Lowell
Wastewater Superintendent
Town of Falmouth Department of Public Works
416 Gifford Street
Falmouth, MA 02540
ph: (508) 457-2543 x 3018

WINTERIZATION PROCEDURES – Town of Falmouth Winterization Procedure 10-31-16; 11/10/16 – revised information bolded

The following suggestions are a guideline. Your local plumber should be aware of the process needed to close a seasonal residence or commercial establishment for the season. Each installation may be unique and require additional measures.

It is recommended that the power be left on to the grinder pump unit if the water is left on in the house. Then the pump will run and prevent back-up if any of the fixtures leak.

For small periods of time – 2-3 weeks:
1) Flush system with clean water. A couple of clean toilet flushes will do.

For an entire season:
1) Flush entire system with clean water. Fill up a bath tub and drain to provide enough water to fully flush the system.

2) Press and hold “run” button on the control panel for 30-60 seconds to pump the unit down.

3) Add 10 gallons of non-toxic antifreeze (the same type of anti-freeze normally used for RV or home plumbing winterizing) to the pump chamber.  The antifreeze can be added to any sewer drain in the house (such as a sink drain, or flushed down the toilet) or to a cleanout upstream of the pump, if available. Do NOT use antifreeze containing ethylene glycol or petroleum – these are toxic in the sewer system and will harm the pump.

4) If your discharge line is shallow or you have other reason to be concerned about the discharge line freezing, press and hold the “run” button on the pump control panel for about 15-20 seconds after you’ve added the antifreeze. That will push a portion of the antifreeze into the discharge line (the discharge line is very small diameter, so a little volume goes a long way).

For more information see:
or call the F.R. Mahony service department at 508-765-0051.