What Is a Lift Station and How It Works

When the sewer line does not have enough elevation to pump wastewater into the public sewer lines, you will likely need a lift station. It is highly functional for sunken commercial or residential properties in an area.

Today, there are already several alternatives to conveniently operate lift stations, such as cloud-based SCADA software. It is a solution that guarantees many advantages for its users.

To be more familiar with a lift station, let us look closely at how it works, the needed specifications, and its maintenance to work well with fewer issues.

What is a Lift Station

A lift station also referred to as a pumping station, is a facility utilized to move waste and liquids from low to high elevation when there are restrictions regarding the natural flow. Its operation is made possible through the pumps, electrical equipment, valves, and SCADA systems.

Primarily, lift stations are present in homes and businesses’ plumbing systems. It helps transport their wastewater into a wastewater treatment facility installed on a higher elevation. Various industrial settings also use it, including:

  • mining
  • water management
  • water treatment

Additionally, lift stations or pumping stations are useful for flood water or stormwater control because it pumps the water away from the city’s low-lying areas. Huge stormwater treatment facilities may even consider having a generator as back-up. To know more, you may read a lift station guide by Samsara.

Lift Station Components

There is a range of types of lift stations out there in the market. However, nearly all of them have the same features. Here is a list of the typical components that it has:

Wet Well

A wet well is a basin or chamber that collects and houses the liquid inflow. It is where a pump’s suction pipe is attached.


Pumps are the workhorse of the entire system. It is the device that moves the wastewater or liquid through mechanical action. There are two primary choices of it, which are:

  • Submersible
  • External pumps


The screen in a lift station removes course substances or floating solids in the water flow. It also helps to protect valves and pumps from clogging or damage.

Level- Sensing Probes

The lift station’s pump activation depends on the level-sensing probes. These probes also initiate several functions, such as setting the alarm when there are level problems.

Power Source

Generally, it is useful to have a back-up generator in conjunction with the station if the primary power source gets lost due to a power outage.

How Lift Station Works

The sewage or wastewater gets stored and fed into a pit. Once it reaches a particular level, the electrical instruments recognize that the hole is full. Then, it activates the pump, which will transport the sewage to its next landing place.

To prevent health risks or hazards in a confined area since wastewater may release poisonous gases like hydrogen sulfide and methane, the installation of lift stations are mostly underground. Thus, it is vital to consult experts if you want to install one. You can ensure that professionals know how to put it correctly and securely.

Maintaining a Lift Station

A lift station’s maintenance is crucial for it to last long. You can expect that it will last between 15 to 20 years, depending on the lift station’s type and proper care.

Preventive maintenance practices and performance of routines can also save the lift station’s owner from expensive repair costs. Here are several recommendations which may ensure fewer problems and breakdowns for sufficient work:

  • The wet wells must be cleaned and pumped out at least twice a year or more to prevent the build-up of grease and solids in your lift station.
  • Have a quarterly or at least semi-annual inspection of submersible pumps.
  • Check the impeller quarterly or when the motor hours are not within the requirements to be free from debris and other clogging materials.
  • Prevent back-flow from the force leading to the wet well and ensure proper working order by performing inspection and greasing of the check valves no less than twice a year.
  • Check the alarm and light systems weekly because these components are essential, especially when alerting you with problems immediately.
  • Have a semi-annual inspection of all the electrical motor control equipment so that you can find worn parts and poor connections right away.
  • Clean and check the basin, covers, and clean-outs properly to prevent any build-up.
  • For high corrosion-prone environments, make sure to operate and grease all lift station moving parts as needed so that mechanical components are not at risk of failing.
  • Keep records of your inspections so that you can quickly identify an issue with the system in several cases. Recording the activities you did is necessary to prove that a system operates correctly and aids future maintenance.

Indeed, it requires a thorough inspection when maintaining a lift station, but there are options now that you can consider. SCADA software promotes convenience through less human on-location visits for hardware evaluation.

This software ensures that administrators can rely on continuous and safe admittance of their information. It even reduces your maintenance costs, which is advantageous.

Considerations When Selecting a Lift Station

If you are still a beginner and not entirely familiar with lift stations, the reservoir’s size is the total volume that it can hold. The measurements of its overall volume are typically in gallons.

The head and pumps’ number identifies how much energy it can use in the lift station’s operations. Additionally, the highest rate of liquid flow throughout the system is the maximum flow rate, measured in gallons per minute.

On the other hand, maximum pressure is the highest pressure that the entire system can handle. For the measurement of the outlet pipes, you can refer to the discharge size.

Final Thoughts

A lift station is a system that helps us move wastewater or sewage all across our area and contributes to the cleanliness in our everyday lives.

With technology evolving as days pass by, it eventually helps us do our work easier. Using SCADA software and such make industrial processes more coordinated and precise.