Grinder Pump FAQs


What is a grinder pump?

A grinder pump is a pump unit located at a low point in your house or in your yard where the wastewater drains from the house that grinds the wastewater up and pumps it to the nearest gravity sewer in the public street.

How does a grinder pump work?

Wastewater from your home flows down your drains and collects in a holding tank.  When the wastewater in the tank reaches a certain level, it automatically activates the pump to grind up your sewage into small particles, much like a garbage disposal.  The pump then generates enough pressure to push the wastewater up the hill through your sewer line to the sewer main.  

What should I do if my grinder pump alarm goes off?

If there is too much flow going into your grinder pump unit, the high sewage level will automatically trigger an alarm horn and light to alert you of the problem.  In many instances, the problem could be an excessive amount of flow to the grinder pump.  You should take the following steps:

  • Immediately discontinue your water use to prevent an overflow.
  • Turn off the alarm by depressing the alarm light on the front of the alarm box. The alarm horn should silence but the light will remain on until the grinder pump is repaired.
  • Wait fifteen minutes before taking further action. A high level of water usage will sometimes cause the alarm to come on.  This situation is self-correcting.  If the pump is operating correctly, the wet well will automatically be pumped down and the alarm light will turn off.
  • If the alarm light is still on after fifteen minutes, contact the SHWD at (501) 455-3195 and we will dispatch a worker to come out.
  • Never attempt to open the tank cover or the electrical panel box. CAUTION: Electrical shock or damage to the system may occur.      

What should I do if there is a power outage?

Your grinder pump is powered by electricity and will not function during a power outage.    In order to prevent waste from backing up into the lowest sink, tub, or toilet in your home, severely limit the interior use of water until power is restored.  This means do not shower or wash dishes and limit flushing the toilet.

What can I do to protect my grinder pump?

A properly maintained grinder pump should be able to handle wastewater from the kitchen, bathroom, laundry, etc.  However, some chemicals and substances can adversely impact a grinder pump and may cause safety hazards.  Please check the labels on all chemicals before using or disposing.  Never connect a sump pump to the grinder pump.

CAUTION: NEVER put any of the following materials into sinks, toilets or drains as they can clog your home system and create unsafe conditions in your lines and tank:

  • Cooking fat, lard, oil or grease
  • Degreasing Solvents
  • Cigarette butts
  • Dental Floss
  • Sanitary napkins, tampons or diapers
  • Q-Tips
  • Sanitary wipes such as baby wipes or disposable floor wipes
  • Hair clippings
  • Cat litter
  • Strong chemical, toxic, caustic, or poisonous substance
  • Explosive or flammable materials
  • Glass, metal, wood, eggshells, seafood shells, coffee beans, aquarium rocks or gravel
  • Plastic Objects
  • Rubber gloves or other disposable gloves
  • Fireplace ashes

 It is not advisable to plant flowers or shrubs or place such items as fences, decorative pilings, fish ponds, etc. within the immediate area as damage to the pump, underground electrical or piping systems may occur.  Electrical power and alarm wires are buried under the ground between the control panel and the tank.  Before digging in the area, you should call to have a technician locate the lines by calling 811.


The City does maintain the Grinder Pumps and will come out to repair any issues. However, if it is an issue that is preventable and we have multiple calls on the same grinder pump you may be charged a service fee for any future services or repairs.

Grinder Pumps