Ejector Pump Overflowing? Here’s What to Do Right Now

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: February 26, 2024

Is your basement filling up with foul-smelling water that should be draining through the sewage line?

That nasty backup is probably the result of an overflowing ejector pump.

With more than 85 years of combined experience, ServiceMaster by Zaba knows how to clean up contaminated gray water and Category 3 water.

We’re sharing that expertise so that you can stay safe dealing with an ejector pump breakdown.

Before You Get Started

  • Know how to turn off your home’s electricity and water just in case.
  • Protect yourself from contaminated water by wearing waterproof boots, gloves, goggles and a respirator.
  • Make sure you can access the pump cover, basin and components.
  • Keep the number of a licensed plumber and electrician handy.
  • Ask your insurance agent about your wastewater damage coverage, and document your losses with pictures.
  • Plan on letting a certified water damage professional take care of cleanup.

What to Do When the Ejector Pump Overflows: Causes & Solutions

what to do when the ejector pump overflows

The ejector pump lifts water generated below your home’s drain lines and directs it upward into the main sewer line. If the pump malfunctions, wastewater from basement toilets, appliances or storm flooding backs up into the basement.

These are the five most common problems that cause ejector pumps to fail and flood the basement, followed by the solution for each situation.

1. Cause: Heavy Rain

Torrential rain overwhelms main drain lines, resulting in extreme pressure on pump pipes. The volume of water exceeds line capacity and backs up into the basement.

Fix: Consider replacing the pump’s existing pipes with larger lines that can handle severe weather events.

Pro Tip: Restoration expert Diana Rodriguez-Zaba advises, “Floodwaters are highly contaminated, so always be extremely careful in the basement after a natural flood event.”

2. Cause: Debris Clogs

Items like paper towels, fabric softener sheets and baby wipes should never be flushed down the toilet, especially in the basement. The debris clogs the pump, resulting in a dangerous overflow.

Fix: Turn off the main circuit breaker to the basement, pull off the pump housing’s access panel, and remove debris from the holding tank.

Pro Tip: Make sure everyone in the house understands what can and cannot be flushed down the toilet.

3. Cause: Check Valve Failure

The pump’s check valve prevents water from flowing back down into the holding tank. When the valve fails, the pump basin quickly fills with wastewater and overflows.

Fix: Close the shutoff valve directly above the check valve, and drain the line. Remove the faulty component, and attach a replacement check valve, cutting and reassembling the pipe as needed.

Pro Tip: This job can get complicated, so consider bringing in a licensed plumber.

4. Cause: Offset Float Switch

This component reacts to the ejector pump basin’s water level, activating the motor as needed. Accumulated debris can jam and offset the switch, interfere with its operation and allow wastewater to fill and overflow the basin.

Fix: Remove the pump cover, and clear out any debris blocking the float switch so that it can move freely.

Pro Tip: As you clean around the switch, protect yourself from hazardous wastewater by wearing long rubber gloves.

5. Cause: Old Discharge Line

Over time, wastewater causes corrosion buildup in the ejector pump’s discharge line. Eventually, the obstruction blocks water flow and results in spills and flooding around the pump.

Fix: Call a licensed plumber, and let them clean or replace the discharge line.

Pro Tip: If the pump is more than 10 or 15 years old, consider replacing the entire unit.

How to Deal With Wastewater Damage From an Ejector Pump Overflow

  • Contact your insurance company, and ask about your coverage for wastewater damage.
  • Document your losses with photos of damaged basement interiors and belongings.
  • Leave as much in place as possible so that the adjuster can see the extent of damage.
  • Call a water damage company like ServiceMaster by Zaba that specializes in wastewater cleanup.

How to Prevent the Sewage Ejector Pump From Overflowing

While your ejector pump may not get as much attention as the basement’s sump pump, it still needs routine maintenance. These simple tips can keep a pump in good working condition and head off costly wastewater damage.

  • Clean debris out of the pump basin at least twice a year.
  • Be aware of what you flush down the basement toilet.
  • Never pour flammable liquids down a basement floor drain.
  • If the pump makes loud noises or emits foul odors, check it right away.
  • Have a plumbing professional inspect the ejector pump once a year.

Dealing With Wastewater Damage From an Ejector Pump Overflow in Chicago, IL? We Can Help!

ejector pump overflow chicago

The overflow from a faulty ejector pump leaves behind a hazardous environment. It’s the type of wastewater damage that needs professional cleanup.

That’s our specialty here at ServiceMaster by Zaba. We pump contaminated water out of the downstairs and completely restore finished and unfinished basements.

Stay safe, and let us take care of wastewater cleanup.

We’re just a phone call away: (773) 647-1985.

Helpful Resources

Health Risks and Sewage – EPA

Home Septic System Information – EPA

Home Water Usage – EPA

What is the difference between a sump pump and an ejector pump?

A sump pump protects the basement by pumping out water resulting from storm flooding or plumbing breakdowns. An ejector pump handles wastewater from basement appliances and floor drains by directing the wastewater upward and into the main sewer line.

Why does my sewage ejector pump run continuously?

When it’s operating properly, the pump cycles off and on every 10 or 15 seconds. The most common problems that cause an ejector pump to run constantly are a damaged check valve or a faulty offset float switch.

What happens when the sewage ejector pump fails?

When the ejector pump malfunctions, wastewater generated below a home’s main drain lines begins to back up, filling the pump basin. The resulting overflow pushes highly contaminated water into the lower levels of the house.

Should the ejector pump smell?

No. Foul odors around the unit are usually signs of a clogged plumbing air vent. The blockage could be above the roofline or somewhere inside the vent pipe. If you’re not comfortable working up on the roof, a licensed plumber can take care of cleaning the air vent.