New approach eliminates lift station pump clogs at 400-unit apartment complex
Approaching something the same way repeatedly rarely yields different results. Often, it is the consideration of a different perspective that enables ideal solutions. Such is the case at Villa Mountain Vista North Las Vegas – a 400-unit apartment complex with an onsite lift station equipped with stainless steel-bladed pumps to transport influent. While the pumping of sewage out to the municipal collections system should be fairly standard, frequent pump malfunctions were causes for concern. Typically, the solution involved replacing broken-down pumps – at a cost of $3,000 to $3,500 each time – or installing larger pumps. These solutions did not solve the problem.
Plumbing Enterprises representative Colin Pirrie is the onsite treatment manager of Villa Mountain Vista and was hired by the property management company to deal with all of the sewage and plumbing issues. He acknowledges he knows more than most about what goes for a swim after getting flushed – most of which does not belong there. When asked to reveal more details, he candidly acknowledges that it’s the unexpected items that create the biggest headaches.
Although he has yet to find something as valuable as a diamond ring, he is quick to note that when objects such as wipes, clothing, toothbrushes and toys (to name a few) reach the pumps, they are not broken down and inevitably clog or damage the system. Unclogging pumps is labor-intensive, time-consuming and expensive. Adding to the complexity, anyone who performs the task is required to be trained and certified in confined-space entry according to OSHA Confined Space standard 29 CFR 1910.146.
Determined to find the best solution for his customer and put an end to the process of removing broken pumps, repairing and reinstalling them, Pirrie combed the internet for guidance. JWC Environmental’s 3-Hydro grinder caught his attention. Diving in to further understand the benefits of the 3-Hydro led him to the realization that the tight design of the Villa Mountain Vista wet well would limit options. He approached JWC with this concern, and it was not long before JWC offered a customized 3-Hydro configuration for Pirrie’s specific application. By utilizing a right-angled gear reducer, the overall height of the grinder was brought down to be a perfect fit in the pump station.
JWC Environmental is no stranger to these types of challenges. It has been working with both private facilities and municipal customers protecting sewage pumps in waste systems for more than 40 years. More recently, with the introduction and widespread use of disposable wipes, JWC has had to adapt its grinders to keep up with the changes. It introduced its Wipes Ready technologies, which are designed to specifically target rags and disposable wipes, in 2014. The new cutters shred baby wipes and diapers as well as tough solids into pieces that are small enough to stay in suspension and remain pump-able.
The benefit of the tailor-made approach runs deep – it is more cost effective than installing new pumps, and the grinders provide waste preconditioning to protect the current lift station pumps and extend their working life. The result is a reduction in maintenance for system operators. Pirrie also commented on the ease and simplicity of ordering and installing the Muffin Monster system.
The system comes with a stainless steel mounting frame and attaches to the existing sump; the grinder slides into the frame that is already attached. After the frame is mounted, the rest is easy. Three men joined Pirrie for the one-day installation. It was their first experience with this type of product, so the team worked slowly and methodically to ensure everything was done correctly.
In the months since the installation, there has been no need for service. The pump, which was clogging on a weekly basis, has not seen a failure. The cost savings for his customer speaks for itself: In a 90-day period, approximately $20,000 – resources typically spent on removing, repairing and reinstalling new pumps – was saved. The success at Villa Mountain Vista has led Pirrie to order a second system for another customer of his facing similar challenges.