Frequently Asked Questions


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Does the town schedule pump service or does the homeowner?


The homeowner must call for service.   Most pumps are E-One pumps, which are serviced by FR Mahoney in Rockland MA, contact information is below.


To be on the safe side, call FR Mahoney now and determine if the pump is registered with them and if it is under warranty.  If the pump is not registered, do so then, and FR Mahoney will come out and do a free inspection of your pump.


If under warranty, call FR Mahoney for service.  If it is not under warranty, you may have other options (see below), but explore those before you have a failure.  More information will follow when we have it.  


Who services pumps when there is a failure?


E-One pumps are serviced by FR Mahoney.  It is reported that they do not perform any work on weekends and holidays, but this has not been verified.  FR Mahoney charges $150 for each visit to your home on top of their hourly rate and any parts needed.


E-One Grinder Pump Service

FR Mahoney

273 Weymouth ST

Rockland, MA 02370



Are there any other companies that service E-One pumps?


There is mixed information regarding this.  These pumps can be serviced by other companies, but the parts are only available through a single distributor, FR Mahoney in Rockland MA.   FR Mahoney is the sole distributor of parts in MA, ME, NH VT and RI.  When a homeowner is without a grinder pump, this constitutes an emergency for the homeowner and eliminating a step by getting service through the distributor may be the most expedient thing to do.


To test the alarm on the grinder pump

To Begin

Open the door to the grinder pump control panel and shut off the breaker to the pump only. 

Leave the alarm breaker on.


Verify the alarm sounds

Run ~12 gallons of water .

Result:  the alarm should sound


Verify the alarm terminates

Turn the breaker to the pump back on

Result:  the pump should pump down in less than a minute and the alarm should terminate


If your pump fails either verification, you need to get service.

What will the Sewer Dept do to help me in an emergency?


The town has a truck with a generator that will come and pump your tank during power outages.  


Per Gary Persichetti, Director of Public Works Facilities, “The main number for the Sewer Division (978-250-5233) has an answering machine that states if it is an emergency and it is after hours please call the police department at 978-256-2521.  The Police Department can reach those on call 24/7 to assist in an emergency.”  

Per Mike Vosnakis, Superintendent, Chelmsford DPW - Sewer Division,

"Due to the storm and state of emergency most town personnel have been released at 3:00pm today. The town hall sewer office will be closed until Feb 22.

The policy as determined by the BOS has been that the Sewer Dept. may provide assistance to pump down residential grinder pumps during an extended power outage during normal working hours, M-F, 7-3, and only if personnel are available. This may be done no more than once per day and is on a first come first served basis. 

Sewer personnel are involved with snow removal operations and aren't available during this period, Sewer personnel also have to perform snow removal for 43 sewer locations after plowing streets in addition to any repairs or emergencies that come up. In the past, a snow event of this magnitude has shown that we would not be available for at least 2-3 days after the snow event ended.  

The procedure would be to call the police 978-256-2521 or sewer office.   

Please understand that there are over 475 grinder installations in town. During previous major power outages and under ideal conditions we were able to provide a maximum of 3 crews for part of the outages. The crews were each only able to average less than 3 pump downs per hour. With deep snow, this would be significantly reduced. If you do the math, I think you would quickly realize the situation we have to deal with."  

What if the pump on my property is not an E-One?


Other pumps known to be installed in Chelmsford are Liberty and Barnes. 


Barnes pumps are serviced by United Compressor & Pump Services Inc.  They may service Liberty pumps as well.   Their travel cost is considerably less than FR Mahoney.  While they are willing to service E-One pumps, FR Mahoney is the sole distributor in 5 of the 6 New England states for the parts so there would be a delay in service.


Contact information for United Compressor


Chris Poliquin


United Compressor & Pump Services Inc.

13 Delaware Drive, Unit #2

Salem, NH 03079



When will the pump have to be replaced and how much will that cost me?


E-One indicates replacement will be required in 8 to 10 years.  Some homeowners have reported pumps over 10 years old are still working.  Others have had to replace the pump in half that time.


Replacement has been estimated between $3000 to $4000 including cost of pump and service.  If replacement is required in less than 10 years you

may want to consider a pump engineered for your site based on slope, distance to the street and number of persons in the household.  One size does not necessarily fit all.


Do I have to have a grinder pump?


At the beginning of the sewer project it was determined that approximately 200 homes would require an alternative to a gravity system due to terrain or proximity to lakes, streams or wetlands.   There are currently over 500 homes in Chelmsford that have grinder pumps.   Some of these homes could have been serviced by a gravity system, but we don’t know that number at the time of this entry.


Is there any data on forcing this burden on homeowners?


WERF, the Water Environment Research Foundation in their 2010 Final Report on waste water basics states:


“A management issue that was addressed early in the history of pressure sewers was that of pump ownership.  Some communities chose to put the burden of ownership on the property owners and homeowner associations with disastrous results.  Today, pressure sewer systems are wholly maintained by a local utility. . .  In most case, the connection fee includes the cost (including installation) of all the on-lot components.  The operation and maintenance costs are amortized into the monthly sewer bill.”


What if the power goes out?


Per E-One:

Limit your water usage as much as possible. The tank does have extra storage capacity and should be adequate because you are not using the dishwasher, washing machine, etc. When the power comes on again, the alarm may go off for a short time – this is normal because the water could be above the pump’s alarm level and the pump needs a few minutes to pump down the tank to a normal level. If the alarm does not turn off, call for service.

The best way to handle power outages is using an alarm panel that is equipped with a Remote Sentry Module and a generator receptacle. The Remote Sentry is a remote alarm with a buzzer & LED that indicates a high water alarm even if the power is out, when it is connected to the Remote Sentry Contacts in the panel. So, the home owner can use the water until the Remote Sentry indicates that the tank is full, then they plug a 6500W generator into the receptacle on the panel, the pump comes on, pumps down and they can continue to use water.


Do I need to do anything special if I will be away for several days?

When asked this question, we didn’t find anything on the E-One website, but the town of Groton, Ct which owns and maintains most of the grinder pumps in town writes this:


“If you plan on being away for several days, replace the wastewater in the tank with clean water to help minimize odors.  First run water from an inside faucet long enough for the grinder pump to start working.  After the pump starts, turn the inside faucet off.  The pump will run until the tank is empty and shut off automatically.  This process will cleanse the pump and leave it filled with a minimum of clean water.  Always leave the power to the pump on.  This allows the heating element inside the pump to operate which helps eliminate condensation and freezing.“

What are you asking from the town for "Fairness" regarding our sewer fees?   

One issue is that homeowners serviced by a gravity system have zero cost after installation beyond their sewer fee.  Homeowners with grinder pumps pay their sewer fee, but also have the additional burden of replacement and maintenance costs. 


Another issue is that these same homeowners with grinder pimps endure hardships during failures that not should be experienced by persons in a modern society. 


 What is the average lead-time for the proper parts to be available?


This can vary.  FR Mahoney service persons carry parts with them.  But if they don't have the part(s) with them, it is normally available from the supplier in Rockland MA and can be brought the next day.  


The supply of parts does not appear to be the long pole. It is actually the availability of technicians during a widespread power outage where problems seem to crop up more frequently.


 What is the response time experienced by home owners to have their system pumped during our frequent long duration power failures?


We don't have exact data on this and the information is all anecdotal.  One homeowner said as short as 2 hours, others said a day, and one homeowner said the truck never came.   Having to cover 500 homes with limited toilet facilities could stretch manpower in these situations.


State Tax Credit For Septic

(all property owners who complied with the town are eligible)

  • This is a credit off your actual tax, not just a reduction in your taxable income, so it’s worth doing.

  • Download or obtain Mass Schedule SC – This allows credit for repairing or REPLACING a failed cesspool or septic system.

  • Since our systems have not failed you must obtain a Certificate of Compliance from the Sewer Department. They will send you one upon request. A phone call sufficed for me. You only need to have the CoP on file, so I believe you can file for the credit before you actually have the CoP in hand.

  • The instructions are on page 3 of Schedule SC..

  • You can claim 40% of the actual costs you incurred to replace your septic system. There is a limit of $15,000 to total costs, so you can only claim a maximum of $6,000.

  • You can only claim $1500 per year, but you can carry the excess over for the next 4 years.

  • The instructions say any ‘reasonable and necessary’ costs are allowable. This would imply installation costs, electrical work, and generator purchase. Perhaps any landscaping you had to do afterwards would qualify.

  • The amount of your credit goes on Mass Schedule Z, line 3, and on line 13 (the total of your Schedule Z

  • Schedule Z, line 13 goes on Form 1, line 30.

  • Don’t forget to include Schedule SC with your return or the credit will be disallowed.

How many homeowners are there in Chelmsford who pay the sewer fee?  


There are approximately 13,000 homes and all of us pay the sewer fee.


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