In Loudoun County, wastewater is collected and treated in many ways. Most wastewater collection relies on the force of gravity to pull it through miles of pipe, ending at a wastewater treatment facility. Since not every area in the County can benefit from gravity, some areas rely on a pressure system or a pump to facilitate wastewater collection. Pumps can serve one household or many households. Approximately 400 homes served by Loudoun Water have their own wastewater pump (grinder pump).
Effective September 1, 2015, grinder pumps, owned and serviced by Loudoun Water, will be serviced by Loudoun Water through an agreement with Freemire & Associates. Please contact Freemire & Associates at 1-888-349-7448 for grinder pump system servicing.
Privately owned grinder pumps are not serviced by Loudoun Water. Please contact a licensed plumber for service instructions.
The brochure contains important information about this updated policy and your responsibilities as a Grinder Pump customer.
Beginning in January 2020 and continuing over the next several months, Loudoun Water crews will be putting new stickers on Loudoun Water owned grinder pump control panels. If you have any questions or concerns please call our Customer Relations team at 571-291-7880.
Grinder Pump Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a Grinder Pump?
A grinder pump removes wastewater from your home that comes from your bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry by pumping it through pipelines to a gravity sewer or treatment plant.
How does a grinder pump work?
- Your grinder pump is located outside your home in a tank made of polyethylene plastic. Loudoun Water refers to this tank as a grinder pump chamber (chamber).
- The chamber is installed in the ground on your property with a green or concrete cover.
- All the wastewater generated in your home flows into this chamber.
- When the wastewater in the chamber reaches a preset level, the grinder pump automatically turns on, grinds the waste, and pumps it out of the chamber and into the Loudoun Water wastewater collection system.
What do I need to expect?
- The grinder pump is powered by electricity and is connected to your homes’ electric service. A black or gray pump control panel (box) is usually located on the outside of your home near the chamber.
- After about 20 gallons of wastewater has entered the chamber, your grinder pump will turn on, pump the chamber down, and stop. On a typical day, this one to two-minute pump cycle will repeat itself 10 to 20 times.
How does a grinder pump connect to Loudoun Water?
- Grinder System: two or more homes on separate lots connect to a common force main before connecting to Loudoun Water’s gravity conveyance system
Private Grinder Pump: individual connection employs a grinder pump and force main to convey waste to Loudoun Water’s gravity collection system
- A Private Grinder Pump shall be maintained by the property owner.
What does a grinder pump cost?
- Approved grinder systems will be assessed an availability charge and an additional grinder pump fee per connection to address future repair and replacement.
- No more than one dwelling or building may be connected to a single Grinder Pump Service Connection.
What are my responsibilities?
- Customer is responsible for all damage relating to vehicular or lawn care traffic, unintentional landscaping damage, trees falling, or any avoidable act that inflicts damage to the Grinder Pump Service Connection components.
- Customer is responsible for providing Loudoun Water or its representatives unrestricted, unimpeded access to the property in order to repair or replace Grinder Pump Service Connection components.
- Customer is responsible to repair and replace the PVC conduit from the pump control panel to the grinder pump chamber.
- Customer must maintain the plumbing for the Building Drain between the home and the Grinder Pump Chamber.
- Customer must provide an adequate supply of electrical power from the house to the Pump Control Panel and Grinder Pump.
Can I use my grinder pump during an extended power outage?
- The grinder pump is powered by electricity and is connected to your homes’ electric service. The customer must provide an adequate supply of electrical power from the house to the Pump Control Panel and Grinder Pump.
- In the event of a power outage, Customer shall be responsible for taking measures to prevent the backup of wastewater on the property (limit water usage). Grinder pumps do not have a backup power system. Loudoun Water is not responsible for any property damage that occurs as a result of a power outage.
The customer may choose to install a whole house generator or plug in generator to support their grinder system at their expense and risk. Contact Freemire & Associates, Inc (888-349-7448) to discuss the following options and ensure everything is setup properly, not to void the warranty.
- If owner does not have a whole house generator: Freemire & Associates offers a generator receptacle option that allows the user to plug a generator into the grinder pump station.
- If owner has a whole house generator: Owner would need to make sure circuit to grinder pump is powered by the whole house system.
- Alternatively, E/One (grinder pump manufacturer) offers a battery backup option on the alarm panel that will activate an alarm when tank reaches a high level.
Are there prohibitions I need to know about with a grinder pump?
- NEVER connect a sump pump, roof or foundation drain to a grinder pump chamber or drain leading to the chamber.
- NEVER flush prohibited items including, but not limited to rags, paper towels, feminine hygiene products, diapers, chemicals, baby wipes, fats, oils, greases and bio hazardous materials.
- NEVER install any structure(s) over any component of the Grinder Pump Service Connection, including the Customer Force Main from the Grinder Pump to the Public Force Main. In the event of maintenance to these components, Loudoun Water will not replace any structure or improvement.
- Failure to comply may result in fines and/or maintenance cost reimbursements to Loudoun Water.
Why are they prohibited?
- Prohibited connections cause extraneous flows to the system thus driving up customer rates
- Prohibited disposal results in damage to the system and possible backups
- Prohibited structures result in the inability to quickly fix a problem with the system
Can I tell if I have a prohibited connection to the grinder pump?
- Most sump pumps and drains go outside. If you do not see an outside drain, you may have a prohibited connection.
Can I fix a prohibited connection?
- Yes - a plumber can fix the prohibited connection
Who maintains the pump and/or who do I call if I have a problem?
- If your pump is owned by Loudoun Water please contact Freemire & Associates if your grinder pump is not working or a visual/audible alarm is activated.
Freemire & Associates, Inc. - 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week
How can I silence my grinder pump's alarm?
Your grinder pump is fitted with an alarm in case of failure. If there is a failure, the tank that contains the pump will become too full and the alarm and light, located on the black/gray pump control panel box will automatically turn on. If the alarm sounds, please follow these important steps:
- Discontinue water use to prevent overflows.
- Silence the alarm by pressing the silence button on the bottom of the pump control panel box. The light will remain on.
- Wait 15 minutes before taking further action. A high water level will sometimes cause the alarm to go on. This situation is often selfcorrecting and the holding tank will automatically pump down. If 15 minutes have passed and the alarm light is still on, call Freemire & Associates, Inc. 24 Hours a Day, 7 Days a Week: 888-349-7448.
- Never attempt to open the tank cover or the electrical panel box. Emergency crews are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will respond promptly. A defective unit will immediately be repaired or replaced.
Where can I learn more about the rules that govern my grinder pump?