Sewer pumps blocked by pizza dough

Provided below is a case that provides an illustration of our proficiency with extreme wear on duty pumps due to high acidity levels and abrasive waste. We will outline our observations and actions taken in this circumstance to allow you to learn from the mistakes of others. It will also hopefully provide some insight into the way in which we operate and the severity of problems we can identify and solve.

Issue: Stagnant effluent. High level alarm triggered.

Cause: The restaurant and commercial kitchen had changed their recipe as well as the cleaning products. They had increased the volume of sugar in their dough and the amount of tomato paste. This resulted in a high level of acidity to flow into their effluent, eroding the mechanical end on the pumps over time. The two pump impellers (the end which moves the fluid) were completely worn down and eroded. As a result the pumps were unable to adequately move the effluent, causing the high level alarm to sound a warning of an imminent overflow.

Above: On-site pit upon arrival with the high level alarm sounding.

Two year old pump wet end

Five year old pump wet end

New cast-iron wet-end. Note the profile of the fins


  1. Attended site with pump technician, plumber and suction truck with operator
  2. Removed the excess effluent and exposed the two pumps.
  3. Retrieved the pumps from the pit for cleaning and clearing.
  4. Removed the wet end for examination.
  5. Liaised with the Project Manager and client to determine the economic viability to repair versus replace. Photos, experience, and known situational conditions and limits were evaluated to determine the most viable course of action.
  6. Pertinent factors:
    1. The client was to depart for a vacation a few days’ time;
    2. It was not financially viable to close down the operation during business hours;
    3. The cost of spare parts versus complete replacement;
    4. Supply timeframe of pumps versus spare parts and labour to complete.


In light of the situation, the decision was taken to replace the existing pumps rather than repair.

End Result:

  • Fortunately, the right technicians equipment (particularly a suction truck) were immediately brought on site by Ballantyne’s, so it was possible to prevent overflow or further damage
  • The functional wet ends were reassembled, and the semi-functional pump returned to duty
  • The removed waste was pumped back into the pit (to avoid dumping fees) and demonstrate functionality
  • Two new pumps were supplied and installed within three days
  • An environmental incident was prevented
  • The client was able to depart for their holiday without concern.

Above: Cleared pit showing normal functionality of pump mechanisms and clearing effluent.


Regular servicing with time allowed for removal and inspection of a pump by a trained technician is vital to the health of your essential equipment (including pumping equipment). It will limit the chance of failure of an essential service.

It is important for business owners to understand the nature of the effluent created by their business, and how this will affect their plumbing needs before there is an incident. This client is now aware of the impact of a high acid (sugar) based waste, and the cost thereof.

Selecting a trained an experienced team of technicians to resolve your plumbing issues ensures you will be provided with an efficient solutions that prevent knock-on problems and extends the life of your plumbing, and allows you to maintain your business operations with ease and peace of mind.

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