Lift stations are pumping stations in sanitary sewer and storm collection systems. They are designed to move raw sewage from lower to higher elevations, where it is more efficient to use gravity to collect the waste to the main city line.

If a lift station fails (e.g., force main break, power outage, or pump failure) wastewater will collect in the lift station wet well and backup into the collection system. This could result in sewer backups into homes or cause wastewater to overflow from the lift station to the surrounding environment. Wastewater lift stations are susceptible to clogs from fats, oils, and grease generated by restaurants and businesses, as well as disposable towels from households and multi-unit residential buildings.

A wastewater lift stations can be a source of bad odors, and the gas from the collected sewage is also highly corrosive and can damage the wet well structure, the piping, and pumps over time.

To prevent sanitary sewer overflows (SSO), lift stations should be cleaned annually to remove grease, oils, sediment and other debris; soap bars and clothes have been found in stations. This is usually accomplished with a combination sewer cleaner/vacuum truck. SSOs are reportable to the regulatory agency on incident report forms, so it’s important for commercial facilities, such as warehouses, to have their station inspected and maintained by professionals.