Keeping Pumps Unclogged at a National Landmark

June 26, 2015
Grinder protects pump from rags, plastics and trash

Two new solids handling pumps installed at the Breakers Mansion in Newport, R.I., in early 2005 were no match for debris flushed down the toilets by tourists. After careful consideration, a Mini Monster grinder was chosen to rescue the overworked pumps.

The Breakers, a National Historic Landmark, is the grandest of the “summer cottages” situated on the picturesque shoreline of Newport. In 1893, Cornelius Vanderbilt II commissioned architect Richard Morris Hunt to design a villa to replace a home destroyed by fire. The result: A 70-room, Italian Renaissance-style palazzo inspired by the 16th century palaces of Genoa and Turin.

After Mr. Vanderbilt died in 1899, the Breakers became a “ladies house,” with Mrs. Vanderbilt and her two daughters vacationing there. Gladys, the youngest Vanderbilt daughter, later inherited the mansion. In 1948, she opened the house to raise funds for the Preservationist Society. The society purchased the house in 1972, and today, it is known as a “hot spot” for Rhode Island tourists.

Several bus loads of tourists converge upon the Breakers at a time. And many use the bathroom facilities. Tourists flush a variety of trash down the toilets without thinking where it goes. The mansion has approximately 100,000 tourists yearly, with increases during the summer months.

Flushing is not the end for the debris. After that, the pumps start working.

In 2006, the Preservation Society contracted Donovan & Sons, Inc., a local plumbing contractor, to install new bathrooms on the lower level of the mansion. Ken Marshall, general manager, said the bathrooms were below grade for the sewer tie-ins. Therefore, they had to construct a duplex sewer ejector station. They constructed a basin approximately 5 ft deep and 4 ft wide located in the catacombs of a sub-level basement. Two solid handling pumps were installed to move the wastewater to the city sewer line.

Unfortunately, the surge of visitors created an abundance of trash and sewage. “The station was receiving alarms as often as every other week during the peak tourist season as a result of clogged pipes,” Marshall said.

The tremendous wear and blockages resulted in an unusual amount of repairs. Donovan & Sons found themselves removing and re-installing the chopper pumps each time they were called out.

Marshall contacted Sean LaRiviere at Industrial Pump Sales & Service Inc., Donovan’s pump supplier. LaRiviere suggested a macerator to resolve the stoppages. The society approved Marshall’s proposal, and he worked with Bob Mack, owner of New England Environmental, to select the proper equipment for the installation. “The Mini Monster was an easy sell,” Mack said.

A 3HP(2.2kW) in-line Mini Monster (pictured right) grinder from JWC Environmental was selected for the tough solids situation at the mansion based on its ability to shred rags, plastics and trash into small particles to protect the pumps. There was no modification to existing pipelines required and no need for a clean-out trap since solids are ground up and passed through.

”Since the Mini Monster’s installation in July, the pumps have been clog free,” LaRiviere said. Effluent from the primary lift station is carried by gravity to the street and then to the WWTP for processing. Processed water is discharged into Narragansett Bay’s East Passage.

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