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Question DetailsAsked on 3/22/2016

Septic tank conversion to city sewer. Need for lift pump vs direct connection to city sewer

The health department ordered our business in FL that currently has a septic tank to connect to the city. After inspecting the tank a contractor recommended to place a lift pump and connect the septic tank to the city sewer. The building is not located in a hill. What is the logic behind this recommendation instead of connecting directly to the city sewer bypassing the septic tank and filling the septic tank with gravel and sand? Am I wrong in thinking that leaving the septic tank and adding lift pump could potentially lead to more things to maintain (septic tank, pump) and more components that could and will need repair in the future? Any questions I should ask the contractor regarding options other than the lift pump and keeping the current septic tank?

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2 Answers



This is James in Member Care. Thanks for your interest in Angie's List!

While Angie's List is generally geared towards consumers who need residential or medical services, we'll be happy to help find top rated providers from our "Septic Tanks" category to best assist you with this, but it doesn't look like you have a subscription to the List yet. You can join by visiting or by giving us a call. Our call center is available 8:00 am-9:00 pm weekdays and 8:00-5:00 pm ET on Saturdays. You can reach them by calling 888.944.5478. If you join online, you can save 20% on an annual plan by using the promo code ANSWERS.

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Answered 4 years ago by Member Services


Possible reasons for this recommendation, not knowing your specific circumstances:

1) he does not do new in-ground lines, so this solution maximized his work on the fix

2) receiving line is not sufficiently downhill for a normal gravity sewer to work

3) receiving line is a pressure sewer which requires a pressurized flow from your business to it (city sewer department could answer that, and also the elevation of the sewer line where you would connect in, within a foot or so)

4) may hve been thinking septic tank would reduce chance of line blockages by catching much of the solids and grease - but you would still have to get it pumped periodically, which is not likely what the health department had in mind


If you have a septic and leach field system, generally it is unlkely the city would allow you to leave the septic tank in anyway - I am sure they want a direct connection to the city sewer and totally eliminate the septic system. Also check on whether you would be allowed to fill the tank - generally removal is required and also more advantageous - eliminates the hassle when it comes time to remove it because of top collapse as it ages or due to other construction in the area. If you do have it left in get a clean tank certification for it as proof it passed inspection as being uncontaminated when it was taken out of service. Also check (or ask engineer) whether leach field has to be removed as well - does in some areas, especially if already contaminating the groundwater or leaching to surface, which is probably why the health department cited you.

Generally, if you can run a gravity line to the street at proper grade, that is certainly preferable in almost all cases - barring major topographic or structural or historic/cultural features between your business and the city line.

As the AL rep stated, this website is more for residential than business issues, but I would recommend contacting a civil engineering form (not an AL category) that does septic system design and commissioning/decommissioning certifications and have THEM recommend a design after a survey is done to determine where your line can legally and reasonably go, and what slope it would be at.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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