CFPUA-Owned Grinder Pumps

Homes built on certain terrain types may have a grinder pump as part of their sewage system. Often, grinder pumps are owned and operated by the homeowner. This page provides information to New Hanover County homeowners whose grinder pumps are owned and operated by CFPUA.

What is a grinder pump?Grinder brochure cover-2

A grinder pump is a self-contained appliance that consists of a collection tank, a small pump, on-off controls, and a high-water alarm. The grinder pump system collects all the wastewater from a home, grinds it into a slurry, and pumps it through a small pipe to the main sewer line under the street.

Click here for a printable info sheet on grinder pumps.

Why does my house have one?

Whenever possible, sewers are designed to use gravity to move wastewater from the home or business through the sewer system. Certain difficult terrain types make gravity sewers cost prohibitive or infeasible.  In some cases, using a grinder pump is more practical for moving wastewater through a low-pressure sewer system.

How does it work?

A grinder pump is placed in a tank that is buried in a convenient outdoor location on your property.  When water is used in the house, wastewater flows into the tank.  When the wastewater in the tank reaches a preset level, the grinder pump automatically turns on, grinds the waste, and pumps it out of the tank via a pressure discharge line into the public sewer system.GrinderGraphicEdit

The pump is powered by electricity and is connected to a control panel mounted near the tank.  The control panel is wired to an outside breaker box fed by a circuit breaker in the homes electrical panel.

What are my responsibilities?

As a homeowner, your primary responsibilities are to:

  • Provide electricity to the pump, 
  • Protect your pump and underground lines,
  • Notify CFPUA when the alarm goes off,
  • Act responsibly during a power outage, and
  • Provide access to the property for maintenance of the system.

What do I do during a power outage?

Your grinder pump cannot operate without electrical power.  The grinder pump storage tank has a limited amount of storage capacity, so it is imperative to keep water usage to a minimum during a power outage. Minimizing water usage (bathing, flushing the toilet, washing dishes, etc.) during a power outage may prevent the sewer from backing up into your home.

CFPUA will provide a pump-out service for your grinder pump during periods of extended power outage (48 hours or more) if the property is accessible and roads are not blocked by down trees, power lines, etc.ProtectPump

Call the CFPUA 24-hour emergency line at (910) 332-6565 to request a pump-out service due to a power outage.

What do I do when the alarm goes off?

Your grinder pump includes an alarm in case of failure.  A pump may fail for several reasons, such as power supply breaker tripping, loss of power, force main break, or a sensor-related malfunction.  If the pump fails, the tank will fill with wastewater.  If this happens, stop using water to prevent overflows.

If the alarm light is still on after 15 minutes, call the CFPUA 24-hour emergency line at (910) 332-6565 to request maintenance and a pump-out service.

What are the costs?

CFPUA charges a bimonthly fee of $30 to operate and maintain a residential grinder pump system in addition to the normal rates for our gravity sewer customers.  

Customers also pay for electricity to operate the grinder pump, which is currently estimated to be between $20 to $30 per year.