How to Check Septic Panel and Pump Chamber

Learn to check your septic panel and pump chamber with our detailed 11-step guide, featuring practical video and photo assistance.
Ray's twilight Septic Service Pumping Truck

How to Check Your Septic Panel and Pump Chamber

It’s good practice to check your pump chamber each year, to ensure that everything is operating correctly. Do this yourself by following the 11-step process below!

1. Let's start by inspecting the panel. Make sure the power is on by verifying the power switch to the panel is on.

This switch often looks like a light switch on the outside of the panel attached to the house.

Now, let's go inside the panel.

2. Inside the panel you'll find the on/off/auto switch in the upper right corner.

This switch should be in the "auto" position. *If your panel looks like this!

3. Update your maintenance record sheet with the times the pump has cycled and verify that it is within a normal operations range.

4. Now let's check out the pump chamber of your septic tank. Locate your pump chamber and remove the lid. The pump chamber is usually located downstream from the filter chamber.

5. Once the lid is removed, complete a quick general, visual inspection to make sure there are no leaks around the septic pump chamber joints, and that water levels look correct.  

This general overview should include the following: beginning at lower left in the picture below, you will see the electrical box. Inspect it to make sure that all wires are plugged in securely. Next, look to the lower right of the photograph where you can see the pump discharge pipe. Verify that it is open (valve should be lined up with pipe). Now it's time for the fun!

FIRST...PUT ON GLOVES! That is one step you DO NOT want to miss. Remove the float tree (the pipe with a pvc handle located upright left in our picture) and pull up the alarms.

6. As you pull up the float tree, you should immediately hear the low-level alarm sound.

*NOTE these directions are for a 4 float system. Some systems only have 2 or 3 floats.

If you don't hear an alarm, this is cause for concern. Starting at the top, I will explain the floats and how to ensure each one is working.

The first thing you'll want to know is how to stop the beeping! Simply turn the bottom float upside down. This will silence the alarm.

NOTE: If your water is low, you may need to add water. Use a garden hose to fill it up a bit.

7. Continue testing.

To test if the pump is working, first turn the pump on by turning the second from the bottom float upside down. While holding that float upside down, turn the next float up (that would be the second from the top), upside down. You should hear the pump turn on. Once you verify the pump is working, simply release these two floats. One last float to go. The top float is the high water alarm. To check this, turn it upside down. It should sound an alarm.

8. Now is the time to inspect the power cords.

Verify that all are attached to the float tree, not just hanging loose. Reattach any loose cords with zip-ties.

9. Securely return the float tree to its holder and coil any dangling cords so that they are out of the water.

10. Always be sure to promptly replace the lid. Never leave a septic pump chamber open for any reason.

11. Wow! That was a marathon in septic maintenance! Now be sure the panel is shut and lids are replaced, and then congratulate yourself on a job well done.

Is your septic tank full or ready to be pumped?

Schedule a septic Tank Pump