Any Electricians?

  john bunyan 18:56 30 May 2012

My house is below the level of the main sewer, and I have a 3 phase submersible pump that automatically pumps waste water etc to it from a small " pumping station" via a 2 1/2 " pipe with non return flaps. The pump is quite old, but was working OK. Last Friday evening I noticed a small electricity "outage" but the lights and power came on quickly (Rest of house single phase).Next day I saw a red light on the pump control box. I tried all means to fix it but called in a pump engineer. He found that two of the phases seemed to be fused together so 415 volts was not available. He said the pump may have been damaged if running when a phase was lost. SSE electrician at first said 245 volts on all phases, Had to call him back and he agreed there was a problem as 415 volts not coming when two were tested together. "Jointers" eventually found the fault about 300 yds away and took 6 hours to dig up road etc. No one else had noticed the problem as I am the only 3 phase user near here.The pump is knackered. A new one will cost the thick end of £2500, and I have had to get in sludge gulper to clear the pumping station. I hope that the SSE will entertain a claim, but will wait and see! Am getting a written opinion from a pump engineer.Just wondered how strong a case I have.

  Woolwell 18:59 30 May 2012

Seems more like an insurance claim with the insurers claiming off the electricity suppliers. But I could be wrong!

  stlucia2 19:32 30 May 2012

I agree; my first port of call would be my household insurers, and let them argue the toss with the electric company.

Two bits of "evidence" you'll need to preserve are (a) the pump and motor and (b) some record of the supply failure as corroborated by the electric company's action to repair it. Someone might argue the pump and/or motor were faulty (jammed, or something) and were damaged because of that, so be prepared.

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 20:19 30 May 2012

Single phasing a 3 phase motor is definitely bad for it.

As long as you can prove it was a supply fault then you have a good claim. Agree with above go through your home insurers and let them fight it.

  john bunyan 08:39 31 May 2012

I am in touch with household insurers.(and made a claim direct to SSE but will let House insurers pursue it- I have the fault reference etc) It will depend on the "wear and tear" issue (not covered) versus the damage caused by the phase failure. I have to get on with it and am doing all the usual, gathering technical evidence, going for lowest of 4 quotes etc. Will mark as resolved for now - thanks for advice.

  spuds 12:30 31 May 2012

This can get a little complicated as to making a claim.

If you go the home insurance route, then you might find that this type of event is not covered, because it is not part of the insurance remit, but something 'additional'. Only the policy or insurance company will confirm this. If the insurance company reject the claim outright, then it might pay to seek further help or advice if needed.

I know that you are talking about 'waste' water, supplied electrics and the SSE, so again you will need to wait for a response from that side.

What I am going to say now, might not apply at all, but it might be worth thinking about regarding responsibilities.

A number of years ago, my father owned a large property that was built on an hillside. There were problems with a gas supply to the laundry room, which resulted in an explosion, which partly demolished the laundry room and injured my father. When all the official investigations ended, it was found that the gas board was responsible for maintaining the gas supply, by checking and draining a water trap in the gas supply lines, because of the hillside location status. The gas board had never taken any actions over the years on this matter, and very few people knew about it, or the gas boards responsibilities on this issue. End result, the gas board was heavily fined and my father was well compensated financially and building wise.

  john bunyan 17:13 31 May 2012


Thanks for your input. I am a bit of a "fine print" reader as my former job involved purchasing for a multinational. In this case, when I took out the house insurance, I specifically asked about the pump, and was told that , as is the normal rule, a breakdown due to age was not covered but a sudden event was (such a a collapse of the pit, or something jamming would be). Although it is old , the fact it packed up precisely when the phase failure occurred , coupled with an engineer's report, will , I hope mean a claim nay succeed. I have had quite a positive reply from SSE's public liability people - they are naturally getting their technical people to report their side of things.My house insurance have admitted they are at fault by not sending in an assessor in and have authorised me to go ahead but keep the old pump. I suspect both will try to say it is old and will try to avoid paying. We shall see! I cannot wait as it looks as if (due to delay at weekend coming) the repair will be on 12th , meaning about 5 slurry loads at £122 per throw! I an seeing if a premium for early delivery is possible, but the pumps are made in Sweden , stocked in France.

  robin_x 17:59 31 May 2012

Do you have a link for which pump you will be buying?

Just interested. I know very little about pumped sewage systems, but one came up on the telly the other day.

Converted Care Home. Miles from anywhere, flat country. Obviously gravity was not a solution.

They turned it into 9 dwellings.

I was intrigued about the practicalities of such things, especially how neighbours would split running costs. Then your post came up....

  john bunyan 18:37 31 May 2012


There are a few makes - Grundfoss, BBC, etc, but a "BMW" quality one is Flygt, made in Sweden Link Here; Flygt

I have 2 1/2 " pipe, on the end of which is a special "boss" . The pump is on chains and guide rails and slides down so a female "boss" engages with the male at the bottom of the holding tank (about 8feet cubed). There are tear-drop floating switches that switch the pump on and off when they are vertical or horizontal, as the case may be. The pipe (with non return valves )goes under my side lawn, up about 10 ft in about 40 meters, then up a side lane a further 80 meters and 25 ft higher to join the main sewer. I have no idea of the running costs as they are included in my total, and my wife is a bit profligate with washers and driers! The cost of the new pump (CP3068.180) is about £1500, the control box about £500 - total £2000 plus VAT including installation to existing pit etc. I prefer this to a septic tank, and have lived here for over 25 years with little problem from the pump.A local pump supplier recommended by the tank cleaning company was about £500 cheaper than a Flygt subsidiary. The "pit" is about 4 meters from the side of the house. I believe 1 phase pumps are available, but 3 phase is better - I pay a small premium to have 3 phase.

  john bunyan 18:40 31 May 2012

PS for a shared system you may need a bigger tank and pipe. Look up Sewage pump or whatever in Yellow pages or ask your local tank emptying people for a recommendation (I found this a good way)

  spuds 19:15 31 May 2012

Have to agree, and I would certainly recommend Flygt pumps, as I have been involved with them in many parts of the world in all types of conditions. They were never a problem, especially if you fitted a 'clack' valve in real bad conditions. Maintenance was simplicity itself, if ever required.

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