How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 11

How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – sewage basin high water alarm installation and wiring. This project is continued from How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 10. See the series introduction for the project index.

Basement Bathroom Sewage High Water Alarm

The purpose of a high water alarm is to alert you that something is wrong so you can stop using the basement bathroom before the sewage basin overflows. Possible causes of a high water alarm condition are:

  • Sewage ejector pump is not working
    • power outage
    • circuit breaker has tripped
    • pump is jammed or clogged, possibly due to a foreign object flushed down the toilet.
  • Sewage pump is undersized – not enough horsepower.
  • Sewage discharge pipe is clogged.
  • Check valve malfunction.
  • The ball valve was inadvertently closed, blocking the flow.

I bought a Zoeller A-PAK high water alarm that is rated for sewage basin applications. The Zoeller alarm is extremely loud and features a 9 volt battery backup in a addition to 120VAC primary power. The A-PAK alarm kit is shown below.

Basement Bathroom High Water Alarm: Zoeller A-PAK ALARM

Basement Bathroom High Water Alarm: Zoeller A-PAK ALARM

Install the Sewage Basin High Water Alarm

The high water alarm installation was easy following the Zoeller alarm installation instructions. I positioned the alarm float switch to trigger when the water level reached the bottom of the sewage basin outlet (right side of photo) to prevent waste water backing up in the underground pipes. (The evaporation rings inside the basin are from mud and rain water that partially filled the basin during construction of the home.)

Basement Bathroom - Sewage Pump and High Water Alarm Float Switch

Basement Bathroom – Sewage Pump and High Water Alarm Float Switch

The wiring leads through the rubber grommet in the sewage basin cover are:

  • High water alarm signal wire – coiled cable hanging on the blue handle of the ball shutoff valve
  • Sewage pump power cable
  • Sewage pump on/off float switch
Basement Bathroom: Sewage Pump and Float Switch Cables

Basement Bathroom: Sewage Pump and Float Switch Cables

Sewage Basin High Water Alarm Wiring

The sewage high water alarm unit should be powered by a different 120VAC electrical circuit (separate circuit breaker) from that of the sewage ejector pump. The reason is so the alarm remains powered if the pump circuit breaker is tripped. I installed a new electrical outlet on a different circuit from that of the pump.

Fortunately I had ready access to an electrical junction box that I installed for the florescent light in the plumbing closet. It was a simple task to locate a new electrical outlet box and wire a duplex receptacle for the alarm:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin: High Water Alarm Wiring

Basement Bathroom Sewage Basin: High Water Alarm Wiring

The new wall outlet wiring is verified as correct with a receptacle tester. The two yellow lights as shown means the wiring is correct:

Receptacle Tester

Receptacle Tester

The sewage basin, sewage pump electrical outlet and high water alarm wiring. Notice the sewage basin vent pipe was disconnected via the PVC slip union and the two part metal cover on the left for easy access to the sewage basin and pump:

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump and High Water Alarm Installation

Basement Bathroom Sewage Pump and High Water Alarm Installation

I verified the pump float switch and high water alarm were working by reaching into the sewage basin and lifting the two mechanical float switches. The sewage pump float switch turned the pump On & Off and the Zoeller alarm sounded respectively.

Short video of the basement bathroom sewage pump operation:

The basement bathroom toilet and sink/vanity are installed next, then sewage pump is tested with clean water in How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 12.

Take care,

Bob Jackson

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7 Responses to How to Finish a Basement Bathroom – Part 11

  1. Electrical Construction February 14, 2009 at 12:31 am #

    Hey there! Just read your article about electrical construction and found it a pleasure to read. Thanks for posting such fantastic info! The Best way to contact me is by email. I check it everyday. Signed this day Saturday.

  2. Jon March 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm #

    Great info. Thanks for posting this. It has been a great help in my basement project. I do have a question. How do you get the pump cord fit thru the rubber cord grommet?

  3. Bob Jackson March 31, 2009 at 4:42 am #

    Jon asked “How do you get the pump cord fit thru the rubber cord grommet?”

    You have to make a cut from the edge of the grommet to the hole for the cord. To insert the cord, spread the cut with your fingers and slide the cord in sideways. I know this sounds a bit worrisome, however the grommet is squeezed together when it’s installed in the basin cover making everything airtight.

    In my situation, the grommet for the electrical cords has three holes:
    1) Float switch cord
    2) Pump cord
    3) High water alarm wire

    I had to make two cuts in the grommet:
    (1) Outside edge to Float Switch
    (2) Float Switch to Pump Cord (connect the dots).

    No cut was needed for the high water alarm cord because the end that attaches to the alarm and doesn’t have a plug.

    Take care,
    Bob Jackson

  4. Travis Johnson January 19, 2010 at 1:00 pm #

    Bob,

    How did you vent your bathroom fixtures (sink, toilet, shower). I don’t see any vent lines running to the fixtures. Only the vent line for the ejector pump. Were the vent lines already run???

    • Bob Jackson January 19, 2010 at 7:00 pm #

      Hi,
      The toilet and shower are vented by the main vent line through the roof from the sewage basin. This open vent line allows air to flow both ways. The home builder buried the drain pipes for the toilet and shower under the cement floor and these have very short runs – less than 5 feet – to the sewage basin.

      The bathroom sink is vented by a Studor Mini Vent as detailed in Part 13 of the project. A Studor Mini Vent is a one-way mechanical air valve, it let’s fresh air in, but blocks sewer gases from escaping into the room. I noticed that most of the bathroom sinks in my home have Studor Vents that were installed by the home builder.

      Studor Mini Vent under Bathroom Sink

      This vent configuration complies with the Building Codes in my area. The Building Inspector looked under the bathroom sink to be sure the Studor Mini Vent was installed before he signed off on my permit.

      The basement bathroom has worked well and I’ve never experienced problems with traps being siphoned dry, gurgling or other issues.

      Thanks for asking!
      Bob Jackson

  5. Travis Johnson January 19, 2010 at 8:48 pm #

    Bob,

    Thanks for the response. I’m about to add a bathroom to my basement and the only thing I’m not clear about is the venting. I have a set up very similar to yours except I just have one pipe running underground to the basin. It hasn’t been stubbed up yet, just a hole in the cement with a capped pipe. I think I’m going to cut up the cement and run two more pipes, one for a shower and the other for the sink, and put the toilet over the current hole.

    The utility room has the basin, it’s about ten feet from where the bathroom will be. There is already a vent pipe above that I can run down to the basin, I’m just wondering if this will vent the shower and toilet properly. I could then install the Studor Mini Vent for the sink. It sounds like this is what you did, and there are no other vents already run, so I think this will work. What do you think?

    • Bob Jackson January 19, 2010 at 9:17 pm #

      > I have a set up very similar to yours except I just have one pipe running underground to the basin.

      Hmm. My bathroom was roughed-in with the drain lines for the shower, toilet and sink already in place and piped into the sewage basin.

      > There is already a vent pipe above that I can run down to the basin, I’m just wondering if this will vent the shower and toilet properly.

      You should be able to extend the utility basin vent pipe to the sewage basin if that vent pipe exits through the roof to the outdoors. Note that a Studor Vent or other mechanical vent cannot be used with a sewage basin.

      > It sounds like this is what you did, and there are no other vents already run, so I think this will work. What do you think?

      Make a sketch of what you plan to do. Call your local Building Dept. and ask for a visit by an Building Inspector. You don’t need a building permit to ask for a visit. Show him what you plan to do and ask if it will meet code. The Inspector won’t design it for you, but will tell you if it’s flawed and what would be needed to meet code. I arranged for a visit by a Building Inspector before I started my project and pulled a permit. The Inspector was really great and shared interesting details about my neighborhood.

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