Portland Plumber: Sump Pumps vs. Sewage Ejection Pumps

What’s the Difference?

While somewhat similar, we find that many of our Portland-based customers confuse the differences between sump pumps and sewage ejection pumps.  We felt it was worth witing up an easy guide to help clarify the differences and similarities between the two, and to explain why you might need one or both in your home.


Both sump pumps and sewage ejection pumps are located in basements or crawlspaces.  Sump pumps function to move excessive water from your home in an effort to keep your basement or crawlspace free from flooding.

Sewer ejection pumps help move sewage away from your home.  To summarize, here’s a look at the similarites between the two:

Both sump pumps and sewage ejection pumps…

  • Work to move water and waste away from your home
  • Function to keep your home safe
  • May be installed with an alarm sound that alerts homeowners to problems
  • Are located in crawlspaces or basements


There are more differences between sump pumps and sewage ejector pumps than there are similarities.  Although commonly confused, the two each fulfill very different functions in your home.

Sump Pumps

As mentioned, the primary function of sump pumps is to keep your basement or crawl space dry.  Sump pumps, as their name suggests, safely pump water away from your home to reduce the risk of damage caused by flooding.

While basement or crawlspace flooding is something we always want to avoid, sump pumps are especially important during Portland’s rainy season in the springtime.  We always encourage our customers to be proactive in checking sump pump float switches to ensure everything is in proper.

Sewage Ejection Pumps

Sewage ejection pumps are necessary for homes with bathrooms and toilets installed below the water main line.  Sewage ejection pumps help push sewage away from homes in cases where gravity alone can’t do the job.

Plumbing jobs involving sewage ejection pumps may be more costly than others because of the mess and health risks naturally associated with sewage.  At 3 Mountains Plumbing we do everything in our power to ensure the safety of your home.

Please contact one of 3 Mountain Plumbing’s experienced technicians to learn more about the differences between sump pumps or sewage ejection pumps, and to determine if you may need either or both for your home.


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Ask a Portland Plumber: Do I Need a Sewer Ejection Pump?

Bathrooms Located Below Water Main Line, Need Ejection Pump

Some homes, bathrooms, and toilets are built or installed in such a way that they are placed below the water main line. This means that gravity alone cannot clear out sewage.

Sewer ejection pumps, or sewer injection pumps, are pumps that work to move sewage to a point where gravity can take over and eliminate waste.  Sewer injection pumps often work in collaboration with sump pumps to clear sewage and unnecessary water from basements and crawlspaces.

How Do I Maintain My Sewer Ejection Pump?

Proper maintenance is the key to success with all plumbing systems, particularly sewer ejection pumps that are exposed to especially harsh elements.  Sewer ejection pumps are perhaps more important than most other plumbing systems because of the possible contamination and even health risks that can occur if and when the system fails.

Here are a few things you can do to help prevent a sewer emergency:

  • Alarm installation: A good preventative action is to have an alarm installed into your sewer ejection pump.  The intent is that the alarm will sound when there is a problem (and hopefully when you are home to hear it in time).  Unfortunately, even alarms are not entirely failsafe.
  • Make sure it is correctly sized: If your ejector system is straining, it could be that it has been improperly sized to fit the space or household size.  To be safe, we recommend basing sewer injection pump size on full capacity usage.  This means that simultaneously the toilet is flushing, the shower is on, and both laundry and dishes are being washed.
  • Proper installation and maintenance: Proper maintenance means maintenance performed by a fully licensed journeyman plumber.  Remember that 3 Mountains Plumbing provides a one-year warranty on all parts and service in addition to up-front, fixed pricing.  It is always worth having an experienced professional manage your household plumbing needs, particularly when it comes to the possible health risks associated with sewage.

Your best bet is to have a professionally licensed plumber install your sewer ejection pump to avoid sizing and other potentially hazardous problems, and then schedule at least annual maintenance appointments.

Please give 3 Mountains Plumbing a call if you have additional questions regarding sewer injection pumps and the safety of your Portland home.