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  1. #1
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    Default no power and a lift station

    I received this message yesterday.

    "Randy. Quick question. You inspected our home at XXXX in March. Thanks great job. It has a sewer pump in a can out back that pushes waste into sewer. It must have electric pump in can. See wire coming out. Question. If power goes out can I still flush toilets. I been thinking about getting generator. Power out for while can still make few flushes till power comes on or will it backup inside house toilets. Thanks Randy."


    Interesting question, and I can go a step farther. I reported on the lift station in the rear yard. I also reported on the audible/light alarm on the rear wall of the home. But neither the pump nor the alarm will work in a power outage. So how would you answer? Common sense says to limit water use during a power outage if you have a lift station, but I have no idea how many flushes you can make! It depends on the size of the lift station, which is buried.

    Lift stations are common in my mountainy area. Most are for the lower level only, where you could simply use the main level fixtures (in a power outage). But some are in the yard and are for the entire home. I explain 'lift stations' in the glossary on the plumbing page, but I don't have any warning about being careful during a power outage. Do any of you? Power outages are pretty rare in my area.



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  2. #2
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Think the number of flushes would be determined by the float switch setting and how much was in the tank prior to power failure.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Plus the size and length of the sewer pipe from the lift station in to the toilets and whatever is going to be discharged into the sewer pipe as the longer the pipe is and the larger the pipe is, the more waste the pipe itself can hold until the lift station pump kicks on.

    If a property has power failures - I would recommend a battery backup for the alarm.

    If the property has frequent power failures - I would recommend a backup generator for the lift station, the refrigerator, and a couple of lighting circuits (just enough to see around inside the house, think of how much a night light helps - won't take much in just a few locations to provide a low level of lighting to see to get around).

    Let's say there were six 4 watt night lights which would come on, that is 24 watts, a 1500 watt UPS like I have for my computer might last 2-3 days for those six night lights. Heck, one could even install a contactor at the alarm which would close when the alarm loses power and which is connected to a wire run inside to the UPS with a chime on it - the chime would let the occupants know that the lift station is off ... of course, though, the UPS has a built-in beep-beep-beep which would also let the occupants know that power is off (thus no chime, wire to the alarm, or contactor at the alarm would be needed ... just listening to the UPS beep-beep-beep should be enough).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Randy, \Why not suggest a controlled test on system with power shut off to pump.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Garry Sorrells View Post
    Randy, \Why not suggest a controlled test on system with power shut off to pump.
    good suggestion for my suggestion. Of course, the problem is you won't know how full the tank is- if the pump was about to turn on or had just turned off. You could run water until the pump turns on, and shut off the breaker when you know the tank is full. Then count how many flushes at the lowest level toilet. This would give you a 'worse case', since there is little chance of the power going out right when the tank is full.

    I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work. (Thomas Edison)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    You could run water until the pump turns on, and shut off the breaker when you know the tank is full. Then count how many flushes at the lowest level toilet. This would give you a 'worse case', since there is little chance of the power going out right when the tank is full.
    Unless someone was using other water too ... then the worst case test no longer represents an actual test.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Randy West View Post
    good suggestion for my suggestion. Of course, the problem is you won't know how full the tank is- if the pump was about to turn on or had just turned off. You could run water until the pump turns on, and shut off the breaker when you know the tank is full. Then count how many flushes at the lowest level toilet. This would give you a 'worse case', since there is little chance of the power going out right when the tank is full.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jerry Peck View Post
    Unless someone was using other water too ... then the worst case test no longer represents an actual test.
    Run tank till it shuts off. Shut off power.
    Determine number of flushes to fill system to over flow.

    Have all in house record use data with time of day and activity.
    Develop algorithm to determine probability of tank status at any time of day/month/ year, make sure all probabilities are addressed.

    This way you only have to refer to tank status probability if power is lost for potential use status.


  8. #8
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Get a generator. Why be without power for such a critical component.

    What size generator do you need to run the pump?
    You need to know the amp draw of the pump and multiply that by the voltage to get the watt usage of the pump. Example: Pump draws 5 amps on 115 volts. 5amps x 115volts = 575 watts.

    Also need to consider the fact that an AC motor can draw three to five times its regular amp draw for about ˝ second when it starts up. So to run our example pump, you require a generator that can supply a startup surge of at least 2875 watts (575 x 5) and can continue to supply the 575 watts as the pump runs.

    Keep in mind this is accurate if the pump is the ONLY thing the generator is going to supply power for. To run lights, et ceteras. then that needs to be added to the generator size.

    Don't go cheap on a generator. You want an inverter type generator that delivers clean power.

    You can get diesel units, or propane units, or gas. Propane is the best bet since the fuel doesn't go stale over time.


  9. #9
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post

    You can get diesel units, or propane units, or gas. Propane is the best bet since the fuel doesn't go stale over time.
    Where natural gas is available that is even better.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    http://blog.propane.pro/lpg/15890127/#

    Good thing you quoted me three times for such a simple reply!


  11. #11
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    Cool Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    http://blog.propane.pro/lpg/15890127/#

    Good thing you quoted me three times for such a simple reply!
    That site is totally not biased...right?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Chinook View Post
    That site is totally not biased...right?
    - 100,000 BTU/hr furnace will use about 97 cubic feet of natural gas (100,000 ÷ 1,030 = 97.1) in one hour
    - 100,000 BTU/hr furnace will use about 40 cubic feet of propane (100,000 ÷ 2516 = 39.7) in one hour

    Let's address it a different way (presuming that their numbers are correct - we all know that natural gas appliance require larger orifices than propane (LPG) requires, so, let's put it in a "cost of use" context.

    From here: http://www.sourcegasarkansas.com/Use...tCompare14.pdf
    "
    Example based on current market prices:
    1. 20,000 gal LP divided by 1.09 = 18,349 therms NG
    2. 20,000 gal LP X $1.20 per gallon = $24,000
    3. 18,349 therms NG X $0.90 per therm = $16,614
    "

    Of course, though, that site is not biased either ... is it?

    So, let's go to a more independent site ...

    From here: http://marketrealist.com/2015/02/hig...ke-chesapeake/

    "
    Outlook for propane demand and prices


    The US Energy Information Administration (or EIA), in its February “Short-Term Energy Outlook” report, forecasts that households in the Midwest this year will spend 35% less on propane than they did last winter. This is a result of prices being 27% lower than they were last winter. The EIA expects households in the Northeast to spend 23% less, as prices are 17% lower than they were last winter.
    "

    IF LPG prices are down ... LPG may be less expensive ...
    IF Natural Gas prices are down ... Natural Gas may be less expensive ...

    IF the prices did not fluctuate base on production, inventory, and use ... then the above might actually mean something.

    And, lest we not forget those ancient, buried, natural gas pipes which are in dire need of replacement in many locations ... that just might affect the price of natural gas ...



    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  13. #13
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  14. #14
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Don't forget a portable generator is no longer portable with natural gas! A very important feature if you reside where there is no NG service in rural areas.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Don't forget a portable generator is no longer portable with natural gas! A very important feature if you reside where there is no NG service in rural areas.
    While there are portable propane generators, I wouldn't really consider the ones large enough to be "portable" - not like portable gasoline generators.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Around here natural gas powered generators are popular because they are not portable. Permanently installed with an automatic transfer switch.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Mark

    Yes the fixed NG models are popular here too. I have a large PTO generator for my diesel tractor. Nice part about it is I can move it around my property if I need to run an electric drill or skill saw, or power the house when we have power failures.


  18. #18
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymond Wand View Post
    Mark

    Yes the fixed NG models are popular here too. I have a large PTO generator for my diesel tractor. Nice part about it is I can move it around my property if I need to run an electric drill or skill saw, or power the house when we have power failures.
    I like that idea. Never saw one of those. What is the HP of the tractor?


  19. #19
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station


  20. #20
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    Default Re: no power and a lift station

    That's a powerful tractor.


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