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How to troubleshoot when your septic alarm goes off

What is the first thing to check when your Septic alarm goes off??? Start by checking for a tripped breaker either in the control panel for the Septic system or your main panel in your house. Sometimes you may get "lucky" and it is just a fluke occurence and resetting the breaker will take care of the issue. If the breaker continues to trip, more troubleshooting will be needed but this information will be helpful for your Septic or electrical contractor in diagnosing the issue.

Septic Alarm still going off?

If you are lucky enough to have a control panel, you have a couple more items that you can check. When you open up the front cover of the control panel, you will see something similar to this picture.

Here you will typically find one breaker for the control panel itself and one for the pump. Make sure they are both powered on and not tripped. If this is the case, you will be able to trouble shoot whether the pump is failed itself or if the issue is with the float switches.

The float switches are located in the pump chamber and tell the pump to turn on or off based on the water level in the pump chamber.

To narrow down where the issue is coming from, you will turn your attention to a small toggle switch that will be labeled, Auto, Off, and Hand or Manual. In the auto position, the float switches are controlling the pump. Off is off of course. And the hand/manual position bypasses the float switches and send power directly to the pump. So, by switching from auto to hand/manual you will either find that the pump turns on, pumps the water down, and the alarm light will turn off. If this is the case, we know that the pump is functioning and most likely the float switches need to be addressed. If the pump does not pump the water away and the alarm light stays on, then most likely the pump will need replacement.

Now, the important thing for the homeowner with a control panel is that this information will help to avoid an emergency service call to your contractor and avoid those emergency fees. If your pump is functioning in the hand/manual mode, then you can manually manage your water use in the meantime while you wait for a regularly schedule appointment with your contractor. When you are alerted by your alarm that the water level is high in the pump chamber, you can go to your control panel and manually turn the pump on. THIS PART IS VERY IMPORTANT THOUGH!!!!! Once the alarm light turns off only let the pump run for a few minutes. Running the pump dry can damage the pump and cause it to need premature replacement. If you are comfortable and able to remove the lid for the pump chamber, you should be able to visually see the pump as the water is being pumped down. Once you see the top of the pump above the water level, turn the pump off immediately.

If you have any questions, always consult your local septic or electrical contractor.

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