If you have a house with a basement, undoubtedly you are familiar with the sump pump that resides there, pumping excess water out and into your yard or the storm sewer system. You count on it to prevent your home from flooding due to heavy rains.

What you often take for granted – but just as important – are sewage pumps that dispose of waste. They are a must have if you have a bathroom or laundry room in your basement or other below-grade level, or if your home is located “downhill” from the municipal sewer line.

Here is an explanation. Most homes take advantage of gravity to dispose of waste. When you flush a toilet in a bathroom that is located above grade, for example, gravity allows the waste water to flow through your home and “downhill” into your sewer line, which then runs downhill into the municipal sewer line.

However, what if your home is located downhill from your sewer line? Or if you have a bathroom in your basement? Most sewer lines exit the house above the basement floor. That means the shower, sink and toilet in the basement bathroom are below the house sewer main. In that case, the system cannot drain via gravity.

The solution is a sewage pump, of which there are two types.

Many pumps have alarms that will alert you to a problem. However in most cases any problems that occur will be caused by the homeowner. Those problems are usually created when the homeowners flush anything other than human waste and toilet paper down the toilet. In other words, no feminine products, disposable wipes, cotton balls, etc. down the toilet (note: that goes for toilets located above ground as well).