How to Fix a Septic Tank Pump That Is Not Working

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Things You'll Need

  • Rubber gloves

  • Water hose

  • Safety goggles

  • Face mask

A properly working effluent pump is critical to a septic system.

Effluent pumps are the heart of a working septic system. Effluent pumps can clog from debris washed into the pump chamber from the main septic tank. Septic tank baffles, which are located over the outlet holes, protect the pump chamber of the septic tank from pump debris. Septic tank corrosion or overzealous pumping companies can break these baffles and allow debris, grease and oils to flow into the pump chamber. Effluent pumps that are plugged by sludge or debris will fail to remove waste water from the pumping chamber, and rising liquid levels will set off the septic tank alarm.

Pump Removal and Cleaning

Step 1

Shut off the breaker for the septic pump at your home's electrical panel.

Step 2

Unplug the effluent pump from the electrical outlet.

Step 3

Remove the manhole cover from the septic tank's pump chamber and set it aside.

Step 4

Locate the union that releases the septic pump from the rest of the plumbing and disconnect it.

Step 5

Lift the pump from the tank, using the attached lift rope, and set it on the ground.

Step 6

Invert the pump and remove the debris from the pump's impeller. Run water through the impeller housing with a water hose to remove any remaining debris.

Pump Replacement

Step 1

Lower the pump back into the tank by the lift rope.

Step 2

Reattach the union on the pump assembly.

Step 3

Plug in the pump and turn on the breaker at the electrical panel.

Step 4

Locate the "On/Off" switch in the pump tank and lift it to its vertical or "On" position.

Step 5

Verify the pump is pumping by watching the level of the water drop.


Have the septic tank pumped by a septic system maintenance company before working on the pump to make the removal process easier to see.


Working around a septic tank is dangerous. Use proper safety equipment, including goggles, gloves and a face mask.


Stephen Hasty

Stephen Hasty started writing in 2009. Covering technical articles and newsletters, his work has appeared in "The Kennebec Valley Plumbing Newsletter" and "Maine Leasing." Hasty holds a bachelor's degree from Saint Cloud State University, a real estate sales agent license and a master plumber license from the state of Maine.