How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 9

How to Finish a Basement Bathroom: Install the sewage ejector pump in the sewage basin and connect the PVC plumbing to the main sewer line.

This project is continued from How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 8.

Basement Bathroom: Liberty Sewage Pump

I bought a new Liberty Pumps Model LE71A2 3/4 HP sewage on eBay.com for just $299.00 – compare this price to $975.00 for the same item at Grainger. I could have gotten by with 1/2 HP pump but chose the 3/4 HP model for added reliability because I don’t want to open the sewage basin and pull the pump – that would be dirty job. Consult the Liberty Pump Engineering Specifications to size a pump for your particular needs.

In the following photo the pump is shown with the gray mechanical float switch and white 2-inch threaded PVC pipe adapter on the discharge outlet. As the water level rises, the metal ball in the float switch rolls and closes the on/off switch contact to turn on the pump.

Basement Bathroom: Liberty Sewage Pump Model LE71A2

Basement Bathroom: Liberty Sewage Pump Model LE71A2

The water level should never rise more than half-way up the side of pump housing before the pump activates to empty the sewage basin. This pump is rated at 60 gallons per minute at 20 feet of head for my situation. “Head” is the vertical number of feet, including friction losses for plumbing elbows, that the pump must lift the sewage. Given that I only have a shower that uses ~7 gallons per minute, 1.6 gallon per flush toilet and a normal size sink faucet it will be impossible for the inflow volume to exceed more than 10 to 15 gallons per minute worst case.

The intake opening is shown here on the bottom of the pump. A cast iron impeller rotates at 1725 RPM inside the housing. It runs vibration free but does make a noticeable “Rrrrrrr” noise when it pumps out the sewage basin. The pump empties the basin in 3 seconds or so.

Liberty Sewage Pump LE70 Series - Bottom View

Liberty Sewage Pump LE70 Series – Bottom View

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin

I cleaned the dirt and cement splatters off the sewage basin 2-part metal cover which revealed several rust blisters under the original paint. The rust spots were sanded down with a wire brush drill attachment and treated with Naval Jelly rust killer then painted with four coats of Rust-Oleum black enamel spray:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin 2-Part Metal Cover

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin 2-Part Metal Cover

The sewage basin metal cover is secured to the perimeter of the basin by mirror mount nuts and bolts. The old ones were rusted (left side of photo) and replaced with six new assemblies. Mirror mount nuts splay out in star pattern when the bolt is tightened to secure the nut to the plastic rim of the sewage basin.

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin: Mirror Mount Nuts, Bolts and Washers

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin: Mirror Mount Nuts, Bolts and Washers

I also trimmed sewage basin discharge outlet with a Roto-Zip tool to clean up the sloppy cutout made by the home builder which would’ve interfered with the sewage flow. The round black plastic ring I cut from the discharge outlet is lying on the bottom of the basin:

Roto-Zip the Sewage Inlet Rim

Roto-Zip the Sewage Inlet Rim

Install the Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump

The sewage pump installation diagram will be helpful to understand the following installation steps:

Sewage Pump Installation Diagram (C) Liberty Pumps, Inc.

Sewage Pump Installation Diagram (C) Liberty Pumps, Inc.

The basement bathroom sewage ejector pump is lowered into the sewage basin and turned so the discharge outlet is aligned with the plumbing holes in the black metal cover. The rubber grommets for the soil stack (sewage discharge pipe), vent pipe and electrical connections are laying to the left. Also notice the new mirror mounts nuts are installed in the rim of the sewage basin:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump in the Sewer Basin

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump in the Sewer Basin

The combination check and ball valve is dry fitted to a 36 inch length of 2 inch PVC pipe to begin the sewage line connections. I purchased mine from Grainger, part #4RG93, the item in the Grainger catalog looks a little different than the one here. The purpose of the check valve is to prevent backflow when the pump is idle. The blue handle on the ball valve allows me to close the valve for pump maintenance. It’s also required by the Building Code.

If I ever need to disconnect and pull the sewage pump, the check/ball valve has a slip union threaded joint to disconnect the pipe:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump: Combo Check and Ball Valve

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump: Combo Check and Ball Valve

The PVC stem pipe and ball/check valve is set into the threaded PVC discharge outlet adapter screwed into the cast iron pump. I’m still dry-fitting the PVC sewage plumbing and haven’t glued any connections:

Ball/Check Valve Stem Pipe and Pump

Ball/Check Valve Stem Pipe and Pump

Update: Check Valve Water Hammer Problem

I didn’t realize it at the time but the combo check/ball valve unit I originally installed is NOT a “silent” or “quiet” type sewage check valve. The check valve suffered from a severe water hammer problem when the sewage ejector pump shutoff and the 12 foot column of sewage water reversed direction and slammed the check valve closed. The water hammer caused a loud thud and rattled the PVC pipes. After 3 years of operation the rattle and vibration caused by the water hammer eventually cracked the PVC solvent weld joint inside the Union fitting causing a small sewage leak.

The original check/ball valve shown above was replaced with an A.Y. McDonald 2068S/2067S Silent Check Valve that solved the water hammer problem. See the How to Replace a Sewage Pump Check Valve project for details.

My strong recommendation is to install a silent sewage check valve to prevent water hammering.

Now back to the original program…

Closeup of the 2 inch PVC sewer pipe connection and pump inside the basin.

Basement Bathroom: Sewage Pump and PVC Discharge Pipe

Basement Bathroom: Sewage Pump and PVC Discharge Pipe

Connect the Basement Bathroom to the Main Sewer Line

I wasn’t looking forward to sawing open the PVC main sewer line to install the Tee-fitting for basement bathroom sewer hookup. It turned out to be a pleasant “dirty job”.

A section of the 3 inch PVC main sewer line that runs below the floor joists must be cut to install the Fernco QT-300 Tee connector for the sewage pump line. The installed Tee in the main sewer line:

Basement Bathroom Sewer Line Connection: Fernco Ell Fitting

Basement Bathroom Sewer Line Connection: Fernco Ell Fitting

Sanitize the Sewer Line

The 3 inch PVC sewer line in the photo above serves the master bathroom. In anticipation of cutting the sewer line, I poured 1/2 gallon of bleach down the toilet in the master bath and flushed several times to disinfect the PVC sewer pipe. The master bathroom was off-limits for 24 hours to allow the sewer line to fully drain because I didn’t want to get dripped on when I sawed open the sewer line.

Install the Flexible Tee Fitting in the Main Sewer Line

The section to be sawn out of the 3 inch PVC sewer line is marked as shown using the Fernco QT-300 Tee as a reference. I removed one of the steel bands from the Tee and tightened it around the PVC sewer pipe to mark a perfect circle.

Basement Bathroom: Main Sewer Line Connection with a Fernco QT-300 Flexible Tee

Basement Bathroom: Main Sewer Line Connection with a Fernco QT-300 Flexible Tee

The section of the main sewer pipe to be cut out to splice in the basement bathroom plumbing:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Main Sewer Line Section to be Cut Out

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Main Sewer Line Section to be Cut Out

I was concerned over what might spill out of the PVC sewer pipe when I sawed it open. I didn’t know if it would be dripping, filled with sludge or something worse. I suspended a plastic bin from the floor joist with wires under the section of the sewer pipe to catch the saw dust and drips:

Basement Bathroom Sewer Line: Plastic Storage Bin for Catching the Debris

Basement Bathroom Sewer Line: Plastic Storage Bin for Catching the Debris

I used a Milwaukee Sawzall to make the saw out section marked on the PVC sewer line:

Sawzall, Safety Glasses and Latex Gloves

Sawzall, Safety Glasses and Latex Gloves

The Sawzall cut the PVC pipe like butter. The plastic bin caught the PVC shavings and the section of pipe as it dropped free. To my surprise, the sewer line was bone dry and odor free! I deburred the PVC sewer pipe ends by smoothing off the shavings with my gloved fingers. The burrs can also be removed by scraping utility knife blade along the pipe edges.

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Cut into the Main Sewer Line

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Cut into the Main Sewer Line

The Fernco flexible Tee fitting is installed in the main sewer line in the following photo. I had to partially fold the rubber Tee to squeeze between the sewer pipe ends, which is what it’s designed to do. I had considered using a rigid PVC Tee fitting and was happy I didn’t because there was almost no wiggle or ability to widen the gap between the 3 inch PVC pipe ends to install a rigid fitting.

Basement Bathroom Main Sewer Line Tee Fitting: Fernco QT-300 Tee

Basement Bathroom Main Sewer Line Tee Fitting: Fernco QT-300 Tee

Another view of the rubber Tee spliced into the main sewer line:

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Flexible Tee Fitting on Main Sewer Line

Basement Bathroom Plumbing: Flexible Tee Fitting on Main Sewer Line

Working from the ground up, I installed the rubber grommet in the sewage basin cover and completed the 2 inch PVC sewer pipe connections and cemented the joints together. Lubricate the rubber grommet with liquid soap to slide through the 2 inch PVC sewer pipe. Remember the bottom of the check/ball valve is slip union connection for a quick disconnect in case I ever need to pull the sewage pump:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump Pipe and Check/Ball Valve Connections

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump Pipe and Check/Ball Valve Connections

2 inch PVC riser pipe is installed to carry the waste water up from the sewage pump up to the main sewer line. The sewage flows upward from the pump and basin to the main sewage line as indicated by the red arrows:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin Plumbing

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin Plumbing

The sewage pump discharge lines must empty into the main line from above to avoid backflow, hence the 45 degree elbows to clear the existing feeder sewer line and floor joist. Red arrows indicate the direction of sewage flow. Metal hanger straps to support the PVC sewer pipe are noted by the blue arrows:

Basement Bathroom Sewer Plumbing: Connection to the Main Sewer Line

Basement Bathroom Sewer Plumbing: Connection to the Main Sewer Line

The sewage basin PVC vent pipe and high water alarm are installed in How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 10.

Hope this helps,

Bob Jackson

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7 Responses to How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 9

  1. TonyA February 25, 2010 at 10:33 pm #

    Hey Bob,
    I’m getting ready to install the pump and connect the discharge line. Did you use any putty or silicone on the threaded pvc connections? I’ve read that putty should not be used on plastic. Especially the pvc connection that threads into the pump, did you use anything on it? This one will constantly be submerged in water.

    Thanks.

    • Bob Jackson February 26, 2010 at 7:42 am #

      The Liberty Pump installation instructions don’t explicitly state if plumbers putty, silicone or teflon tape is needed on the PVC pipe threads where it screws into the pump discharge orifice. I simply screwed the PVC pipe adapter directly into the pump discharge outlet, making it hand tight. Like you pointed out, this union is constantly submerged and it’s more or less an open path from discharge orifice through the pump blades to the bottom intake port. I also may need to pull the pump someday for maintenance and I don’t want to deal with pipe threads locked by putty or silicone.

      Thanks for reading.

  2. Colin April 1, 2013 at 3:21 pm #

    Is a sewage basin and pump required for all installations for basement toilets?
    Is this only if your main sewage line is above the basement level.
    Is this different if you are in country or on city water?
    If I had my house built with a roughed in bathroom, do I still required a sewage basin and pump?

    Confused in Ottawa, ON
    Colin

    • BobJackson April 1, 2013 at 6:06 pm #

      “Sewage runs downhill” as the old saying goes (Rated G version). It doesn’t matter if the main sewer line is tied to a municipal sewage system or septic tank, if the main sewer line is higher than the basement bathroom soil pipes then a sewage basin and pump are necessary.

      > If I had my house built with a roughed in bathroom, do I still required a sewage basin and pump?
      It depends on the elevation of your basement with respect to the main sewer line. For example, my neighbor’s house is on a hill with the basement floor elevation well above street level. The main sewer line runs below the basement floor to the sewer beneath the street. His basement bathroom does not need a sewage basin and pump because gravity does the job just like the bathrooms and kitchen on the main floor.

      If you’re building a house, your architect or builder will know if you need a sewage basin and pump.

  3. Ryan January 17, 2014 at 10:51 am #

    First of all, thanks a lot for the detail and pictures…

    I have a couple of questions.

    1) I’m having problems with my pump, so I pulled my lid off for the first time since we bought the house several years ago. The ends of the bolts that held the lid down are rusted out and the rubber grommets into which the bolts were screwed are eroded, so I need to replace them.

    I’m having a hard time finding them at the local plumbing supply store, but it looks like you used mirror mount nuts for this. Is that correct?

    2) Is there a reason why you put your check valve and shutoff so far down your pipe (so close to the pump lid)? It seems like you might avoid the water hammer if you put it further up on your pipe. I am going to install a shut off valve (just have a check valve right now) and was wondering how far up the pipe it should go. I only have about 6′ from my ejector pit lid to the point where it ties into my main.

    3) On one other installation video I watched, the guy drilled a 3/16″ weep hole in the pipe just above the top of the pump to avoid an ‘air lock’. Any thoughts on that?

    Thanks!

    • Bob Jackson January 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm #

      Hi Ryan,
      Replies to your questions:
      1. Mirror mount nuts is correct: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Unbranded-1-4-in-Zinc-Plated-Mirror-Mount-Nut-83598/100337546#

      2. The reasons I installed the check valve a foot or so above floor level are:
      * limit the amount of backflow into the sewage ejector pump and basin when the pump shuts off.
      * mounting the check valve closer to the floor allowed me to drain the sewage stand pipe directly into the basin for maintenance, such as when I replaced the check valve.

      So long as maximum water column height is not exceeded for the check valve, it’s really a matter of personal preference how high (within reason) the check valve is installed above the floor.

      3. I’ve read about drilling a small weep hole to prevent air lock, however the weep hole is not called for in my Liberty LE-70 Installation Manual. My pump has been in service for over 5 years and I’ve never had an air lock problem.

      What kind of problems are you having with your pump?

      Thanks,
      Bob

  4. Ryan January 18, 2014 at 7:40 am #

    Hi Bob -

    It started with hearing the pump motor running, but not shutting off. It sounded like it was pumping waste from the basin at the time, so I thought that the float switch may be malfunctioning and not shutting off the pump.

    When I took off the lid, there is enough waste water in the basin where the pump should be on and pumping and yet nothing is being pumped out. However, the pump motor is running, so I’m planning to pull the pump and see if one of my kids may have flushed a Lego man down the john or something where the pump is blocked. If not, I’m thinking the pump may be faulty. As far as I know, it’s original with the house which is about 18 years old.

    As far as I can tell at this point, there’s not a problem with the float, since the pump should be on with the amount of waste water in the basin. While I’m going through this exercise, there’s no shut off valve, so I’m planning to install one of those as well.

    Ryan

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