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5 Things That Can Kill Your Wastewater Pump

Categories: Resources, Tips, Articles
By on the 25 April 2017

Wastewater pumps are a vital tool for many property owners who cannot get their waste to the drain using gravity alone. Nowadays, submersible pumps are very reliable, but there are still a number of things that pumps really don't take kindly to. To help you prolong the life of your pumps, we decided to put together a helpful list of the top 5 things that can kill your pump!

1. Wet Wipes

Container of nappy wipes Nappy wipes are made from stringy fibres which can get caught easily

That's nappy wipes, antibacterial wipe, wet wipes, makeup removing wipes, dashboard wipes, disinfectant wipes...basically anything with 'wipe' in the title! Pumps don't like them. 'Why'?, you may ask. Wipes are normally manufactured from fibrous materials. When these get broken up by a pump the fibres can get caught around the rotating parts of the pump, building up over time to the point where they cause a serious obstruction. Even biodegradable wipes cause problems.

2. Anything Latex, e.g. gloves

Person putting on latex gloves Latex is strong and not biodegradable

Especially if you have a grinder or macerator pump -  latex items are not designed to be broken up easily, rather they are designed to be robust under pressure. They are deliberately not biodegradable and they can cause issues for both standard vortex and grinder/macerator impellers as they can clog up impellers rapidly. Of course there are a number of other latex items that building occupants may be tempted to wrap in toilet paper and throw down the toilet due to hygiene issues. Unfortunately, this does not help the situation. These items needs to be wrapped and thrown in a suitable bin. Medical waste bins should be provided where necessary.

3. Paper Towels

Taking a paper towel Paper hand towels are far stronger than toilet paper

Paper towels which are designed for drying hands do not break up as easily as toilet paper, so grinder/macerator pumps in particular do not like them. Paper hand towels are designed to be soft and luxurious on the hand - they are not designed to be broken up easily by macerators like toilet paper is. Although hand towels are the most hygienic method of hand drying, the waste they produce is an issue, so building owners may want to consider providing some hand dryers to reduce paper towel usage.

4. Dental Floss

Pack of dental floss Dental floss is stringy and very strong

This is a particularly bad offender - most people assume that dental floss is light and safe, but it is actually strong and stringy - which is bad news where pumps are concerned. Over time, dental floss can gradually get wrapped round the rotating parts of standard or grinder pumps causing them to decrease in efficiency over time and eventually stop working altogether.

5. Plastic Bags

Colourful plastic bags Plastic bags take many years to biodegrade

This is a rare one, but a problem nonetheless - perhaps when consumers assume these are biodegradable and therefore safe. However, no one really knows how long it takes for plastic bags to biodegrade - estimates range from 10 years to 1000 years! At either end of the spectrum, this is too long to save your pumps.

What can I do about it?

The only way to completely prevent these issues is not to put the offending items down the toilet, but building owners can make this easier for visitors by providing suitable disposal bins and providing clear, polite signage to remind those who may not be aware of the issue. There are certain pump models that are better than others at handling items such as wet wipes, such as Flygt N-Series pumps, but the issue does not go away completely. It is much more effective to educate consumers and provide easy ways for them to change their habits.