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  • WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

    Hi there,

    I apologize for the length but I like to be thorough for the sake of not having to go back and forth with questions and answers :-) I sincerely appreciate your time and advice. Thank you.

    Configuration:
    I have a Ridgid SP-500 main pump (http://www.ridgid.com/Tools/SP-500-Sump-Pump/EN/index.htm)
    I have a Basement "WatchDog" Emergency battery backup, model BWE; it's the yellow pump. http://www.basementwatchdog.com/basement_watchdog_emergency.htm
    Sump pit is approx. 18" across by at least 18" deep.

    Background:
    When I first installed the backup pump about 2 years ago, my discharge line AFTER the lift area was about 20 ft to the exit of my house. The pump worked fine then. Last February, the outside portion of that discharge pipe froze (because the home builder put a portion of it 1/4" from the ground surface...eek). That discharge pipe was totally replaced to route to my crawlspace's backup sump pump's discharge line, which is about 40ft give or take from the pit. I'm 95% sure that after the plumber finished his work, we tested the backup and the main pump and both emptied the pit.

    I have an issue now where the backup pump pumps water up the lift, which is about 9.5 ft from the bottom of the sump pit (same as it's always been) BUT then the water drains back down into the backup sump's 1.5" pipe, and therefore does not actually pump any water ALL the way out the discharge line. Actually, when I activate the backup pump, I don't see the pit's water level go down so naturally, I assume the water that is being pumped to the lift is only the water that's been there (beneath where the check valve is). I removed the pump from the pit to take a look and removed the strainer cover so I could see that there were no obstructions of any kind, and there wasn't, and also to see that the pump was actually moving when manually activating the switch; it looked good. I checked the checkvalve, which still looked like new, and it seemed ok. I questioned the battery so I even attached my car battery to it for a test and got the same results: water moved up to the lift but that's as far as it got. I'm beginning to suspect that 1) the pump is either not working as hard as it used to and/or 2) the new, much longer distance from the lift area to the house exterior is causing a hit in performance.

    I have re-read thru the backup pump's manual and verified that I have the 3/16" weep hole and water comes out of it pretty well when I activate the backup pump and I don't see the pump's water level rise. I hold my hand to each section of the backup pump's discharge pipe up to the lift and can feel the water go up and then back down.

    FYI - the dual pump configuration in the pit is the typical parallel setup where both pumps are on the pit bottom and then they join via a Y-connector, which is the same configuration I had before re-doing the length of the overall discharge line. See page 4 of the WatchDog user manual, Installation B. My setup looks just like this. The link is at the top of this posting.

    Before I go out and buy a backup pump with more horsepower, I wanted to solicit your professional advice. Thank you very much.

    Jim
    Git-R-Dun

  • #2
    Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

    It's hard to tell from your description if you have a check valve or not, if so, is it in working order?
    Proud To Be Union!!

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

      I think Aaron has it on the money with the check valve problem.

      Actually you need a good working check valve installed for each pump that either screws directly into the pump base or is in the discharge pipe and near the pump. Just ahead (before) of the flapper in the check valve you'll want to drill a 1/8" - 3/16" hole to prevent air locking issues. You want the check valves vertical mounted so the water goes in the bottom and out the top. If mounted horizontal a check valve needs to have a very low pressure spring in it or it won't close up tightly when the pump isn't running.

      If you can do so please take several pictures showing your two pumps and all the discharge piping/hoses for both of them. If we can see things we might get some good hints at what looks to be wrong.

      Question: Do you have a good working wet/dry shop vac with a 6 gallon or larger size drum? If yes, there are a few tests you can try and especially if it has a blower/exhaust port hose connection.

      Question 2: Have you tried testing both pumps when it was 45F plus outside and the overnight low was above 35F so that you can be pretty sure none of the discharge piping or hoses might be frozen or have some ice inside them blocking water flow? Wild things happen to sump pump installations in the winter.
      Last edited by Woussko; 01-23-2008, 02:18 AM.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

        Thanks Aaron and Woussko for your prompt replies.

        As stated in my initial posting (albeit lengthy), I do have a check valve and it appears to be in good condition and its internal flapper seems ok. Nonetheless, before I waste too much time of yours and mine, the first thing I'm going to do is buy a new check valve and see what that does; I should have done that before my posting :-) The check valve is a Flotec FP0026-10. My main (Ridgid) pump works great; the water goes all the way out no problem.

        Attached (I hope) are 3 images I uploaded. One is an "exact" diagram of how my sump config is set up, including the positions of both check valves, pump placement, etc. It is identical to my setup. Notice in the sump config image how far above the pit my check valves are; is that too far up? Also attached is an image of the check valve I'm using and an image of how the weep hole.

        My check valves are absolutely vertical. Also, my discharge pipe leaves my heated basement and goes thru my crawlspace (just below the floor joists) where it hooks up for about 1 foot underground into a 4" pipe that my gutter drains into, which then goes out to the storm drain (where I have watched it drain)....so I'm very confident that I don't have any ice blockage issues. P.S. I do have a shop vac but I'll hold that for now :-)

        Again, I really appreciate your input and advice. Thanks again.

        Jim
        Attached Files

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

          I don't know how far a store is from you and what parts you have around, but I would take the pump outside, set it in as big of container as needed, make a 10ft or longer exit pipe and see if the pump can do it, use your current check valve and try without.
          Seattle Drain Service

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

            Try this and let me know what the results are.

            1. Get the shop vac ready to clean up a wet mess

            2. Disconnect the backup sump pump just before the check valve.

            3. Pour water into the sump and let the main pump start up. If you can, pour in quite a bit of water but also be ready to pull the plug in case of back flow and water coming out in reverse where you disconnected the backup pump.
            Does water flow out the pipe (near the Y fitting) in reverse? If yes, then the check valve for the backup pump isn't fully closing.

            4. Do as in step 3 but this time remove the check valve for the backup pump. Does much water flow in reverse this time?

            5. Cuda has a good idea about making a 10 foot vertical head using some PVC pipe and an adapter fitting. You could do the same with a discharge hose kit for sump pumps if it's less trouble. The idea is to isolate the backup pump from the discharge pipes, but to also be sure it really will pump and make pressure.

            You might try a more simple test first where you unplug your main pump and then just pour quite a bit of water into the sump. Let the backup pump start, try to empty the sump and stop. Does it do that? Once it stops does water flowing in reverse fill the sump up part way? If yes, there is a check valve issue and the simple thing would be to remove both, clean them in the sink and be sure the flapper opens and closes like it should. It might be less trouble to just get new ones and replace them.

            The reason for the shop vac is that this may end up with water spraying about your basement and you want a good simple way to clean it up. You may want a helper so that in case things get wild you can unplug or disconnect the pumps quickly.

            For safety reasons it's a good idea to know what circuit breaker the main pump is connect to and open (flip) the breaker rather than trying to pull the plug on the power cord if there's water spraying all over the place. Try to find the correct circuit breaker before taking things apart.
            Last edited by Woussko; 01-23-2008, 11:29 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

              Cuda and Woussko,

              Thank you very much for the prompt replies and the very good ideas.


              Isolating the backup pump is a great idea. By the way, last night I bought a new check valve and it made absolutely no difference.

              Also, not on purpose necessarily, but in the process of removing the old check valve, I first disconnected the bottom portion that was attached to the pipe connected to the backup pump, thereby leaving the check valve attached to the short pipe connected to my elbow joint. Realizing that the water that was in that pipe above the check valve had not spewed out, I took my screwdriver and gently touched the valve's flapper and once the flapper opened just a little, the water quickly rushed out. Therefore, I feel that the check valve I replaced was probably good to begin with.

              I'm beginning to suspect that possibly the pump's motor (although still working) is not working at its original capacity. Could that possibly create the symptoms I'm having now where it pumps water up near the end of the lift point, thereby resulting in the valve's flapper not closing as quickly as it should? I would like to replace the lower pipe by allowing me to put the check valve just above the pump itself; actually, it would be under water since the water level for the main pump to kick on is above that. There's at least 6 ft from the backup pump to its check valve. My main pump's manual says that you need to put the check valve as close to the pump as possible.

              Woussko: thank you very much for the CAUTION about the electrical issues that one could easily overlook and be in for a shock.

              Thank you again for your assistance.

              My next step is to 1) put in a new lower pipe with the check valve very near the pump and if that doesn't work, then 2) isolate the pump outside with a container of water and lift pipe and check valve.

              Jim

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

                pumpit1

                If you can do this, please give it a try.

                Take the backup pump outside and place it in a clean trash can and then connect up the battery to it. Next fill up the trash can with water from your garden hose. When the pump starts it should either blast water up and out of the trash can or come close. If you can, put an adapter in the pump's discharge port and add a 10 foot section of PVC pipe (don't bother to use PVC cement, just push it into the adapter fitting) and then start the pump. The idea is to be sure the backup pump when connected to the same battery you normally use can and will built up enough pressure to force water straight up 10 feet or more. If the battery and/or charger have any age on them you would do well to take them to a battery specialty house and have them tested. Do you have a way to measure DC Voltage? If not, do you have any friends that are big into electrical or electronics work as I bet they have a good meter and could measure battery Voltage both with the pump running and not. The idea is to be sure the battery carries the pump load and the Voltage stays up where it belongs so the motor runs at normal speed and the pump makes good pressure. If the pump is running slow it may not be able to make enough pressure to open the check valve and also force water up to the horizontal discharge pipe.

                If the backup pump seems to run OK keep adding water (fast) into the sump. Give the pump a good 100 gallon workout if it will pump it.

                As for placement of check valves, they should be near the pump. If not, any water in the pipe before the check valve will run backwards and back into the sump when the pump stops. If you don't mind a little plumbing work, I would install the new check valve(s) so they are about 1 foot above the sump. This will allow access without having to get inside the sump.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

                  I think my last posting may be too confusing. What I would like for you to try is to rig up a way to be sure the backup sump pump can build up enough pressure to push water straight up a minimum of 10 feet. A 15 foot test would be even better and it should do it.

                  If the battery is getting weak or there is a motor problem then it may be time for a new battery or some pump repairs. A simple way to check it out would be to take everything outside and make use of a clean trash can and an adapter fitting and 10 foot length of PVC pipe. You could also try a hose kit. The idea is to make sure the pump runs and makes enough pressure.

                  You could run it in place after installing the new check valve and be sure it will pump out lots of water. Keep pouring pails of water quickly into the sump until you have removed say 50 gallons or more of water and it's been discharged outside. If you can pour water from pails into the sump and fill it up full, but it's not being pumped out at a reasonable rate then something is wrong.

                  If the battery is over 3 years old, I would suspect it's getting weak. This is where a DC Volt meter comes in handy. Fully charged up and at rest the battery should read 13-1/2 to 14 Volts. Once the pump starts and runs a few minutes it needs to stay above 12 Volts measured at the battery. If you know anyone with a trolling motor in a small boat he/she may be able to lend you their battery so you can try it with the sump pump.

                  Did things work fine and then act up or has this been a long term problem for you?

                  A quick test you may want to try is to disconnect and remove the check valve for the backup pump and connect your shop vac hose to the discharge pipe. Then connect the hose the the exhaust of the shop vac and turn it on. After is runs a minute check if there's much back pressure. If there is, this would indicate a clog or restriction that needs to be fixed. With the check valve removed you could try sucking too, but you'll need to first remove the check valve for the main pump and plug up the discharge pipe.

                  Try a few tests and please post the results. I know this seems like a pain but let's eliminate one thing at a time. If you have problems getting a 10 foot length of PVC pipe home, then you might want to get a sump pump hose kit. If nothing else it may come in handy as you can put the end into a drain or out a window in an emergency and run any sump pump that works to pump out water.

                  Sump pump hose kits:
                  http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...10000003+90401
                  http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...WS1&lpage=none
                  http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...2-6&lpage=none
                  http://www.lowes.com/lowes/lkn?actio...K-5&lpage=none
                  Last edited by Woussko; 01-25-2008, 09:47 AM.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down: RESOLVED on Jan 26, 2008

                    Hi Woussko,

                    Good news!

                    Since it is freezing here in Indiana, my alternate to isolating the pump outside in a large container was to isolate it "in the pit". I did so by attaching a 10' 1.5" pipe to the pump and then attached another 10' 1.5" pipe to that one via two 90 degree elbows, allowing the pump to pump the water straight up 10' and then right back down into the pit...and that's exactly what it did...all without the check valve in place.

                    Since 1) that test went well and 2) I have a brand new check valve (no need to test it with the two 10' pipes), my next step was to adjust the original configuration by moving the check valve so that it was about 12" above the pump instead of 4.5' where it was before. Once I did that, I was able to actually pump water out of the pit and outdoors, just like the main pump (albeit with a little less horsepower). FYI-my "water source" for my tests was the PVC pipe attached to my water heater's relief valve (open-fill pit-close).

                    Thank you very much for your assistance. I appreciate all your help. A lot of very good ideas.

                    Jim (aka "pumpit1")

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

                      I'm not so sure I like the idea of hot water for a sump pump but I'm glad the test worked out. Maybe you can try another test just to be sure with everything setup as you plan on leaving it. This time please try to use cold water. Maybe you can connect a garden hose to a wash tub faucet (if you have one) or to the cold valve for your clothes washer. It would be wise to give it say a 100+ gallons test to be sure it keeps running and pumping.

                      With both sump pumps it's good to have the check valve close to the pump.

                      Here's sometime you really should do now and then. Take your shop vac and suck the sump (pit) totally dry and also remove any dirt and other crud.
                      Last edited by Woussko; 01-28-2008, 03:27 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

                        Hi Woussko,

                        Thanks for your reply. The water from my water heater relief valve wasn't "that" hot; it was just hot enough that you could keep your hand under the water without any harm..but I get your point Early on, I used my shopvac to empty and clean out the sump pit.

                        Even though I've tested the backup a few times since (with rain water), it works ok but I'm not 100% confident in the pump overall and would like to replace it with a better brand than "WatchDog". I'm very impressed with my "Ridgid" main pump. It recently kicked on and off every 20 seconds for a few hours as a result of a big rain storm and the pump wasn't even warm to the touch like my old (burnt out) Flotec pump was under those conditions.

                        I could not locate a Ridgid "backup" pump on Ridgid's website. Which brand do you recommend for a backup pump? Thanks.

                        Jim

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: WatchDog Backup: pumps but water comes back down

                          For what it is worth, I tried putting the exact same check valve just about my Rigid sump pump and over the course of a year the metal fittings on the check value rusted, so I changed my configuration and moved the check valve up above the water level.


                          Originally posted by pumpit1 View Post
                          Cuda and Woussko,

                          Thank you very much for the prompt replies and the very good ideas.


                          Isolating the backup pump is a great idea. By the way, last night I bought a new check valve and it made absolutely no difference.

                          Also, not on purpose necessarily, but in the process of removing the old check valve, I first disconnected the bottom portion that was attached to the pipe connected to the backup pump, thereby leaving the check valve attached to the short pipe connected to my elbow joint. Realizing that the water that was in that pipe above the check valve had not spewed out, I took my screwdriver and gently touched the valve's flapper and once the flapper opened just a little, the water quickly rushed out. Therefore, I feel that the check valve I replaced was probably good to begin with.

                          I'm beginning to suspect that possibly the pump's motor (although still working) is not working at its original capacity. Could that possibly create the symptoms I'm having now where it pumps water up near the end of the lift point, thereby resulting in the valve's flapper not closing as quickly as it should? I would like to replace the lower pipe by allowing me to put the check valve just above the pump itself; actually, it would be under water since the water level for the main pump to kick on is above that. There's at least 6 ft from the backup pump to its check valve. My main pump's manual says that you need to put the check valve as close to the pump as possible.

                          Woussko: thank you very much for the CAUTION about the electrical issues that one could easily overlook and be in for a shock.

                          Thank you again for your assistance.

                          My next step is to 1) put in a new lower pipe with the check valve very near the pump and if that doesn't work, then 2) isolate the pump outside with a container of water and lift pipe and check valve.

                          Jim

                          Comment

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