Troubleshooting a Sticking Float in a Septic Tank

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Septic tank pump chambers contain effluent pumps activated by float switches.
Septic tank pump chambers contain effluent pumps activated by float switches. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Septic systems utilize float switches to turn on alarms and stop and start effluent pumps. Float switches that are improperly or carelessly installed can stick on other wires in the tank or become ineffective due to debris in the tank. Sticking float switches fail to alert a homeowner of sewage back.3ups or fail to turn off an effluent pump. Effluent pump design does not allow the pumps to continually run and will cause them to burn up if left on in perpetuity. Septic tank floats should be routinely checked for proper operation every time septic tank maintenance is performed.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Pump hook

Lift the maintenance access hole cover from the tank and set it aside.

Observe the location of the electrical wires and debris in the tank. Wires leading from the float switches attached to the pump's standpipe should be securely attached and in no way inhibit the free movement of the floats.

Lower the pump hook until it is below the float switch. Raise and lower the float switch, checking to see if an electrical wire or debris obstructs its movement.

Raise the float to its fully open position, and if the pump does not pump or the alarm does not sound, give the float a bump. If the alarm then trips or the pump then starts, replace the float.

Replace the septic tank maintenance access cover.

Tips & Warnings

  • Working around septic tanks is dangerous. Wear safety equipment.
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