An Overview of How Lift Stations Work

October 5, 2021

Lift stations play an integral role in wastewater treatment. Their main purpose is getting wastewater and storm water where it needs to go. They receive, temporarily store and move the water through a collection system, collecting it from a low point in the collection network and pumping it to the next gravity line or treatment facility. Here are some of the basic facts regarding this important piece of wastewater treatment equipment.

Basic components

Your wastewater treatment provider uses lift stations to convey wastewater from homes and businesses to treatment facilities. Generally, every wastewater lift station features a wet well for storing wastewater on a temporary basis, two or more submersible pumps, pump float controls, piping, a valve vault, radio communication device, a control panel and a backup generator. The components work together to pump wastewater through pressurized pipes called force mains to its intended destination at higher elevations.

In general, there are two types of lift station designs: wet well and wet well/drywell. The latter option uses wet wells or pits to collect wastewater, and the companion dry well holds all related equipment, including pumps and controls. Submersible wet well lift stations are much more common and are preferred for everyday applications. They accomplish required tasks with one single well equipped with a submersible solids-handling pump that can operate under water. It’s an effective system that can pump clear water, raw water and wastewater.


Most lift stations are classified by size in terms of GPM, or gallons per minute that can be pumped. The breakdown of these stations by size is as follows:

  • Very small stations (move less than 80 GPM)
  • Small stations (move 80 to 300 GPM)
  • Medium stations (300 to 3,000 GPM)
  • Large stations (over 3,000 GPM)

Basic maintenance

In order for lift stations to work as intended, routine maintenance is often required. It takes an experienced wastewater treatment maintenance professional to make sure all components in the lift station system are fully functional. Maintenance requirements include:

  • Daily inspections for any material that may clog the pumps
  • Regular wet well cleaning
  • Exercising valves
  • Jetting, cleaning and televising all pipes every four to five years

Why is maintenance important? For one thing, lift stations can fail for a number of reasons, including a force main break, power outage or pump failure. Wastewater will then collect in the wet well and back up into the collection system, sometimes resulting in sewer backups into homes or businesses. In other words, it can be disastrous. Clogs from fats, oils and grease (FOG) can also cause backups.

There are a number of things that can go wrong with a lift station, which means you need to rely on a professional wastewater technician to keep up with routine maintenance concerns.

Looking to learn more about lift station maintenance or the general wastewater treatment process in your area? Reach out to the team at Enviro-Line Co., Inc. and discover the components and systems you need for responsible, safe wastewater management. We look forward to hearing from you soon.

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