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Sump Pump Questions

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  • Sump Pump Questions

    I just moved into a new house and it has a sump pump. After a couple huge storms I had a larger more professional pit installed with one of those plastic bucket/liners from home depot. The pit is now deeper and wider than it used to be.

    I have a couple of overflow pipes (about 4" in diameter) that lead away from the pit itself. One goes under my basement floor and the other does directly away from the house. The bucket had holes cut into it and these pipes enter in from either side. I believe they serve 2 purposes:

    1) Act as a temporary overflow when the water gets near the top of my pit. Of course the pipes only hold so much water so they will back up eventually and the pit will overflow

    2) Acts to continually feed the pit with water as the pump pumps water out of the pit. This lets the pump stay on for a much longer duration and also also lengthens the time between start-ups thus saving pump-life.

    I have a couple of questions:

    1) Should I put a hole in the bottom of the plastic bucket which is now my sump in order to let water drain out of the bucket when the water recedes? As it stands now there is no hole and I am guessing that the water left over after a storm will turn really nasty if left in there. If I do need a whole, how big and should I put some sort of screen so that muck doesn't get into my bucket?

    2) Because of the depth of the pit and the high height of the overflow pipes, I need a pump that will turn on right as the water gets very high in the pit. Right now, I have the pump sitting on some concrete blocks to bring it up high enough. I was told that I could also tie some rope to the pump and dangle it from the plastic sump pump cover. Can this be done and will the pump function correctly?

    3) I recently bought a battery back up pump from Sears but I'm not sure how to install this since there isn't much breathing room at the top of the pit between where my normal pump would turn on and the top of the pit itself. Any suggestions on this?

    I also wanted to include that I am currently using a 1/2 HP Sears Roebuck submersible sump. The thing looks like it's 10 years old but still works well. I purchased another one of the same exact kind but haven't installed it yet. I actually bought a Ridgid sump pump from home depot right before the last big storm in the Northeast and the damn thing quit on me the first night around midnight. It was turning on and off every few seconds but would not pump any water. I took the thing back to the depot and made them give me my money back even though they tried to tell me that sump pumps are non-returnable...yeah right I said!!

    Anybody had any experience with Ridgid pumps? I am sticking with the sears/craftsman pumps since they seem to have done my house right so far.

    Thanks for reading this and thank you in advance for any advice you may be willing to send my way.


    [ 11-16-2005, 03:37 PM: Message edited by: REALBIGMOE ]

  • #2
    mark, those 2 - 4'' pipes you spoke about are probably not overflows or storage lines. they are probably french drains, or ground water drains. do you ever see water flowing out of these lnes into the pit?

    do not drill a hole in the bottom of the pit. this will cause the remainder of the water to leak into the soil and will probably cause the pit to float out of the ground. water remaining inside the pit is normal. the pit is suppose to be air tight with a gasketed cover and a vent pipe to the outside.

    the pump is ok to sit above the bottom of the pit. remember the higher it is the more water left in the pit. a proper pump will be able to pump out debris. a pump designed for small soilds will plug if mud is present. therefore raising the pump 4'' will buy you time before cleanings.



    • #3
      They may be french drains indeed and I have seen water flowing in via them. However, as my pump turns on, these things really flow back into the pit. My pit is not airtight...I have a submersible pump and there is just a cover but it's not airtight.


      • #4
        Zoeller pumps are the best.


        • #5
          mark, what level does your pump start at? what level does it stop at? the piping dumping into the pit should never be submerged. the reason is that the waste line will back up and not drain fully. waste debris will build up.
          make sure your pump starts up before the lowest pipe is submerged. if this pipe is within 7''- 11'' of the bottom of the pit, the pit is not deep enough. you might need to address this first.



          • #6
            Are you sure the 4" pipes coming into your pit are not your foundation and basement drain? I've never heard of an overflow storage on a sump pit.

            I agree that water left in the bottom of a sump can get nasty which is why there are sealed lids available for your sump. Short of that, tossing a bit of bleach into the water if it stands for a long time will kill any bacteria that causes the sour smell in stagnant water. Don't be drilling holes into your pit if you don't know what the incoming pipes are.

            Zoeller is the best pump you can by for residential use followed by Liberty.
            Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


            • #7
              What are foundation and basement drains? I'm not really sure what that means. When I moved into the new house, my pump was set to turn on when the water was about 2/3 of the the way up those pipes. When the pump turned on, water would quickly flow in as the pump turned on. It would come on about every 8 minutes but the pit itself would fill up very quickly when the pump stopped (within 10 seconds or so). The pit is now very deep and the pipes are probably about 12+ inches from the bottom of the pit. How often should a sump pump be turning on and how long should it stay on? It seemed to work well the way it was set up before....
              my basement is dry...
              thank you


              • #8
                Plumber Rick,

                What is a waste line? I do not think I have one of those. All I have is the 2 drain like pipes entering the pit and the pump line which takes out the water. Am I missing something here? Anybody want to earn a few bucks and come out to Braintree, MA? [img]smile.gif[/img]


                • #9
                  bigmoe, the foundation drains are used to carry the water that gets underground around your footings to the pit to get pumped out.

                  sounds like your system is working properly now.
                  the seped at which your pump comes on and cycles is determined by many factors. the amount of water entering the pit via those 4'' lines. the flow of the pump at that given depth and head. as long as your pump doesn't short cycle you should be fine.
                  the pump should run a min. of 5 seconds. this will allow for the motor to go from the starting windings to the run windings. if the pump then restarts too quick, it can overwork the start windings too. typically the size of the pit (diameter), not depth will determine the amount of water needed prior to turning the pump on. the float switch will give you the range at which the pump cycles, (11'' on, 4'' off).

                  invest in an inexpensive water alarm that will let you know if the water is too high.


                  writing at the same time as your last post. a waste line is a pipe that conveys sewage, not rain water. if the pit is in your basement and is only rainwater, then a vent pipe to the outside is probably not necessary. if the pit has sewage going into it, it should not be combined with your rainwater system. the discharge line from a sump pump, sewer ejector needs to discharge into the sewer system. rain water can discharge to the outside or street.
                  boston sounds good, but i just got back from costa rica a few days ago and need to stay in town a little bit longer.
                  it sounds like your system is working properly now. where is the discharge going to now?


                  [ 11-17-2005, 09:04 PM: Message edited by: PLUMBER RICK ]