A septic system sometimes needs to move wastewater from a low-pressure to a high-pressure environment in order to overcome gravity and geographical issues. When this is the case, septic tanks come with lift pumps, which pumps waste into a drainfield area where filtering is safe. If your tank is starting to stink or overflow, the lift pump could be at fault (some sewage systems come with alarms to signify problems, too). Here are some troubleshooting tips if you need to take a closer look.

Noise – or Lack of Noise: If you are in a position to listen to your septic tank as it moves wastewater, then you can tell a lot by the way the lift pump sounds. If it seems like the lift pump is getting interrupted or if it is failing to move at all, it could have become clogged or jammed. Clogs are a relatively common problem for lift pumps, but once remove you can reseal the pump and it should be functional again.

Leaks: If effluent and wastewater are leaking back into the septic system from the pump, you probably have a faulty valve that isn't creating enough pressure. It may have cracked, or the seal may have worn down. Either way, you will need to replace the check valve to fix the pump.

Float Problems: If your lift pump uses a float to detect sewage levels, that float can become stuck or damage, in which case the pump will not run. Usually you can unsnag the float or otherwise fix it to float normally, but you may need to replace the float entirely for more serious problems.

Extra Water: This problem can occur in time-dosed systems that add water too quickly. The pump cannot clear the tank in time, resulting in overflow and other problems. You may need to adjust the timing of the septic system or household water use to fix this problem.

Wiring Issues: If your pump doesn't appear to be working at all and does not respond to any tests but is still backed up, there may be a wiring problem. First check your circuit breaker, and then try to use a multimeter or similar device to check wires on your residential septic system for damage to see what needs to be replaced.

Motor Problems: Sometimes the motor to the lift pump breaks down, which means that electricity is still flowing to the pump but it cannot work. At this point, it's best to simply find a septic repair service to replace the pump entirely with a version that has a new motor.