There is only so much a pump can take

Mon 21 Jun 2021

The problem

A major UK housing association had been experiencing long term problems with a sewage pump station serving a number of properties in South London.

The pumps were frequently jamming because of the large quantity of ‘non-flushable’ products being put in the toilets. Each time the pumps blocked, the control panel would trip and the chamber would fill. This required deploying a tanker, along with engineers, in order to empty the sump and carry out the required maintenance to bring the pump station back on line.

So what was the cause of the problem?

You would be shocked to discover that items such as tissues, paper towels, and single-use wipes, including cleansing and nappy wipes, cannot be safely flushed, even if labeled as “flushable” or “biodegradable.”

Other non-flushable items include articles like disposable nappies, feminine hygiene products, disposable gloves, cotton swabs and much more. 

Flushing or dumping the wrong things down the WC has the potential to cause blockages within both the gravity part of your drainage system and the sewage pump station.

These products do not break down like toilet paper and can clog systems very quickly. Where the waste has to be pumped to the sewer, it does not take long to block the pumps which will very quickly cause the incoming gravity pipework to back up and before long overflow. Mark Sowden, Sales Manager (Waste Water Division) at PumpServ discusses the top 4 reasons sewage pump stations fail.

In an effort to alleviate the problem, the housing association worked with a pump manufacturer to replace the pumps but despite this, the problem persisted.

What we did

The housing association called in Pumpserv to investigate the problem. Our engineers found the new pumps that had been installed were Flygt Concertor pumps. These are a smart submersible pump with integrated intelligence that can be controlled to facilitate cleaning cycles, thereby maintaining a clean chamber and reducing the risk of blockages. Ideal for sump problems as listed above.

However, the new pumps had not been set up correctly and required a new control panel in order to manage the pump and sump cleaning functions.


The sump and pumps were thoroughly cleaned. We then supplied, installed and commissioned the new control panel ensuring the cleaning cycles and pump operation were to the required settings.

Since the works have been carried out the housing association has not experienced any costly breakdowns and as the picture below shows, the pumps are keeping the sump very fluid and clean. 


Image: Chamber after we had serviced the equipment and set up the pumps’ ‘self-clean’ function.

The above story demonstrates that it is not enough just to install great products. You need those products installed by knowledgeable engineers who understand the controls required to get the most out of your system. This is why PumpServ has a dedicated inhouse training centre to make sure our team is up to speed with the very latest pumping technology. 

If you have critical equipment where failure is not an option, contact our service team on 0800 3317310 or email


Zh1j1kTbxbAK7AaYD_K73EqUT9vbtsYfDeae65EpgQW146sPXyqGEXOoRpJS0jAzTMNeW9YlecpkrvLDF3ChnTOtmgoIveKu8e76vr1AYZpMnie_KdxAi0mG4xPd7d1KMSpQ5X-_PumpServ is an independent distributor representing the major pump brands including Grundfos, Wilo, Xylem, Armstrong and Dab and is one of the top 3 independent distributors in the UK. The company has strategically located staff around the UK for the supply and servicing of commercial heating and chilled water pumps, pressurisation units through to waste water and drainage pumping stations across a wide spectrum of industries.


PumpServ provides a 24 hour / 365 days a year emergency breakdown service and expert staff are always available to help with enquiries and provide technical assistance.