a few questions changing Sewage pump

Hi, everyone!
I am going to change my basement sewage pump this weekend, and would like to have some expert opinions on the following questions:
1. The flotec pump instruction says to install check valve horizontally, not vertically, citing the possibility that solids sitting on the valve. The diagram the user's manual shows that the check valve and shut-off gate sit right on top of the sewage basin cover. My concern is, that installation (as described) will make it difficult to change the sewage pump in the future, since there is no easy way to life up the sewage basin cover! For that consideration, I would rather install check valve vertically. What do you think?
2. Is a "Union" needed below the check valve if I use the rubber sleeve check valve? My understanding is, the only reason to have a union below check valve is to make it easy to disamble pipe and replace check valve and/or pump. Well, since I use rubber sleeve check valve, it is already easy to install/remove, so do I still need a Union for any reason?
3. My current sewage basin cover has about 1/2 inch layer of some type of clay/soil on it for sealing purpose. The material looks like normal soil, but it is light weighted, yellowish, can be hand grinded into fine power (thus will not clog pump if getting inside). I think it is a special type of clay sealant with some chemical in it, so that when it dries, it expands to fill all the cracks. Does anyone know what material that is?
I really appreciate any of your inputs on any of the questions! Please...
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I think they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to support an engieering department so they may have some idea of what works best. If your idea does not work, it is a shitty job to fix it.

No., as long as it comes off easily if needed.

No me.
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