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Yet more sump pump fun....

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  • Yet more sump pump fun....

    (Note: please see further posts for updates, corrections, etc.)

    Hi:

    Full basement.
    Sump pump, which I believe is a big Zoeller cast iron unit, submersible (rather large looking beast); it's about 10 to 15 years old (my mother had it installed as the 2nd pump, after the first, which I believe was a pedestal pump died (about 10 years old)).

    The plumber (who did both pumps) had piped it to the municipal sewage, when it was legal to do so.
    Now the town has sent notices that there will be inspections to check for this (it has been 'illegal' for a while I guess) because of treatment plant excesses.
    I disconnected it from the soil pipe, and plugged the soil pipe.
    I then routed it to the street.

    We have traditionally had high water table levels here, though mostly during the spring season. There is an underground brook or something in the yard (neighbor rumors).
    THIS year was an exceptionally bad year with all the rain.

    With ANY storm though, the pump cycled frequently (before the recent change) and still cycles very frequently; this is even also after the rain has stopped for up to several days....
    It's not uncommon to have it cycle every 1 minute, running for 10 seconds or so, and then resting and refilling for the next 50 seconds after a massive downpour.

    I realize that there ARE issues outside the house that are greatly contributing to this, and I will be dealing with them (grading, drainage, etc.).

    But is this cycling way too excessive for even extreme situations?

    Some info:
    Inside of the sump is about 16 to 18 inches deep, and about 14 inches wide
    Pump drains from a range of about 4 inches to about 12 inches deep,
    (****NOTE UPDATE: this is WRONG; I measured it exactly to be a cycle range of only FOUR INCHES; the sump size and running duration is correct****)
    and takes about 10 seconds to do so.

    Piping is 1.5 inch diameter, rises about 8 to 9 feet from beginning to end.
    Total length of pipe is now 90 to 100 feet long.
    There IS a back-flow valve located about 3 or 4 inches above the floor surface.

    The back-flow valve used to make more noise when pump ran into the soil pipe and now it is pretty quiet (but the pipes and pump do 'shake' a bit when the pump stops).
    Seems to be about 2 to 3 gallons dumping from end of pipe (but I can't really tell?).
    (**** NOTE UPDATE: the discharge dumps 2.25 gallons; this is the same amount of volume for the four inch cycle range, so no water is coming back through the check valve -- I measured both ****)
    Doesn't look like it's draining back into sump, but it's hard to tell since it's filling back up so quickly (I believe it to be ground water coming in rather quickly, and not from the head pipe).

    Is the 1.5 inch pipe too small considering the length?
    What is the ideal pump cycling time?
    Can I measure the pump cycle volume, and what is a good volume?

    Although I mentioned there was a pedestal pump previously (from child memories), I'm not sure if the submersible is too 'big' for the whole -- it doesn't appear so....

    I plan on several changes with the 'system'.
    Am adding a second sump pump, because at the opposite end of house is another, albeit shallow, sump that was opened a long time ago...
    Plus I plan on adding battery/inverter backup with perhaps double pumps in each sump...

    The basement is not wet; the pump can keep up with the water, but as I said, it cycles as often as minute, for a 10 second duration.

    any advice appreciated...
    Luftweg
    Last edited by luftweg; 07-24-2006, 02:47 AM.

  • #2
    i would like to help answer this, but i'm off on a 4 day boy's golf weekend. if i find some time between golf, baseball game, golf, i will try to answer it.

    be carefull of the "dog" he hasn't had a good bite in a few days.

    wish me luck. 4 days no work

    my wife will probably be reading these. it's like her soap opera. so keep it clean or she will bite.

    love you joey

    rick.
    phoebe it is

    Comment


    • #3
      thanx, I appreciate any help...

      K

      Comment


      • #4
        Possibility

        I disconnected it from the soil pipe, and plugged the soil pipe.
        I then routed it to the street.
        Howdy. Could it be possible that surface water is entering the trench you buried the discharge pipe in and making its way back to the basement underground. Even if the trench is backfilled water will still run down to the hard trench bottom and go the direction of slope. Or posibbly the underground spring is entering the trench and running back to the house somewhere. Just thought I would throw that out there. Also ,as you mentioned ,grading and drainage are crucial. Cycling that aften your replacement pump is bound to fail. Look at the AQUA-NOT for a battery back-up pump and fix your exterior grading issues.

        ILPlumber
        IL and IN Licensed Plumbing Contractor
        Signatory to UA Local 157

        Comment


        • #5
          Hi
          My pump discharge is now going down the 'gutter' of the street to the storm drain (which is not overflowing), and very little if any of this could come back to the sump....
          The piping isn't burried yet; it's right on the surface at the moment (may not even bury most of it -- just the parts that are unsightly)...

          I measured the amount of water of the discharge;
          It's 2.5 gallons... I took that water and poured it back into the sump, exactly at the end of a pump cycle (where the water was lowest)...
          It appears to be almost the exact amount of water between the low and high marks in the sump -- so no backflow into the sump from the head pipe.
          The water is coming in at the pump cycle rate...
          I also measured the cycle heights; the pump only operates over a 4 inch deep range.
          The sump is only 14 inches diameter and 16-17 inches deep, and the pump takes up some space as well...
          I'm thinking the sump is too small and too shallow; maybe a pedestal pump should be used in it? (but I want to run a backup pump in each sump, and there might not be room; should I replace the sump liner?)

          Another confounding factor is that my town just recently sent out notices to everyone about not having sumps go into the sewage.
          They NEVER had inspections for this before, but now have been forced to by the State to have them...
          I'm assuming many people in my neighborhood had been pumping into the sewage, and are now pumping into their yards, etc...
          (even the plumber who lives on the next street said people are pumping into each others' yards).

          FWIW...
          The second pump that I just bought was not for the original sump, but intended for another sump at the other (also low) end of the basement...
          A long time ago, in the exterior stairwell (which is also concrete), someone broke the floor open and must have had a pump of some sort there....
          But the hole is rather shallow and there is no pump liner....
          I didn't notice this hole until I replaced the stairs...
          The bottom step (stoop?) is poured concrete like the floor and during this year's massive rains/storms/floods in the area, water came in, filled up behind the stoop and overflowed into the basement...
          SO, I've decided to just install a TRUE sump and pump in that location, which is heated btw...
          In its present state, the hole only fills with water during extreme events; I presume that the 'real' sump, being deeper, usually gets all the water; since it would take ground water some time to travel there, if the rate of ground water rising is faster, then the 'hole' fills up and overflows... Does this not sound right?

          As far as the (2nd) original pump:
          It's at least 15 years old, and has been running like this for years... although, during the late summer, fall, and winter, it barely goes on and the sump often dries up.... BUT in spring, it's quite a different story.
          It's a big Zoeller cast iron submersible beast...

          I'm thinking that the sump is not deep enough and that the 'on' duration is not long enough and the amount should be more than 2.5 gallons?
          Perhaps the FIRST original pump was a pedestal and that allowed more volume of liquid to be pumped during a cycle?

          YES, I'm planning on having both sumps equipped with 2 pumps, one AC and one DC, with the DC set at a higher level (to only kick in when the AC pump(s) die or are overwhelmed)...
          This will happen soon.

          K

          Originally posted by ILPlumber
          Howdy. Could it be possible that surface water is entering the trench you buried the discharge pipe in and making its way back to the basement underground. Even if the trench is backfilled water will still run down to the hard trench bottom and go the direction of slope. Or posibbly the underground spring is entering the trench and running back to the house somewhere. Just thought I would throw that out there. Also ,as you mentioned ,grading and drainage are crucial. Cycling that aften your replacement pump is bound to fail. Look at the AQUA-NOT for a battery back-up pump and fix your exterior grading issues.

          ILPlumber
          IL and IN Licensed Plumbing Contractor
          Signatory to UA Local 157
          Last edited by luftweg; 07-17-2006, 03:43 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            luftweg, now that i'm well rested, i took the time to read your well detailed description of the pump and pit.

            here is the issue. the pump you have is working correctly. the water coming into the pit is something that you either have to control or divert. the pit is too small in diameter to allow for the proper pump cycles. the depth of the pit is more important for a pedistall pump. since your zoller pump cycles from 12'' down to 4'', the pit needs to have a larger volume. i would increase the pit size to a 24''x 24''. you will still end up pumping the same overall volume everyday, but with less on/off cycles and longer pumping cycles.

            hope this helps. if you have more questions, just ask. i'm in town for another 2 months.

            rick.
            phoebe it is

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanx Rick:

              Although, I think I amended the pump cycle depth range...
              It only goes through a depth range of FOUR INCHES (not from 12 to 4 inches)...
              Isn't this about half of what it should be?

              I figured this volume to be about 2.9 gallons, less the volume that the pump itself takes up.... this leads to about 2.25 gallons I think (which is also the amount I measured coming from the discharge).

              I can't increase the depth range because this is a 'fixed' float submersible (is this not right?)...
              Perhaps I could get an external float switch, and 'lock' the pump's float switch to the on position (or bypass it?); with the external switch shouldn't I be able to greatly increase the depth range of the cycle?

              But moreover, I will be wanting to have 2 pumps fit into the sump (the second backup one as either a dc pump, or an ac pump powered by batteries and an inverter)...
              I don't think that I would be able to fit 2 submersibles in that sump... so I was thinking of replacing the primary pump with a pedestal (which would take up less volume in the sump, no?), and then using a submersible as the backup (set higher up in the sump).

              Replacing the tile sump liner would be a relatively major task (although I'd do it if there were no other way)...

              Btw, there will be another sump installed at the other end of the basement...
              There had been a crude hole dug in the floor of an enclosed bulkhead house a LONG time ago; this hole is not lined and is pretty shallow, but it can leak perfusely in alot of rain events...
              Instead of filling it in and fixing the floor, I figured I'd put another sump in, as the amount of water I can pump from under the floor can be rather large, as you have read.

              I have tried to attach a pic showing my rough diagram of a four pump (two sump) system...

              thanx again,
              K

              Originally posted by PLUMBER RICK
              luftweg, now that i'm well rested, i took the time to read your well detailed description of the pump and pit.

              here is the issue. the pump you have is working correctly. the water coming into the pit is something that you either have to control or divert. the pit is too small in diameter to allow for the proper pump cycles. the depth of the pit is more important for a pedistall pump. since your zoller pump cycles from 12'' down to 4'', the pit needs to have a larger volume. i would increase the pit size to a 24''x 24''. you will still end up pumping the same overall volume everyday, but with less on/off cycles and longer pumping cycles.

              hope this helps. if you have more questions, just ask. i'm in town for another 2 months.

              rick.
              Attached Files

              Comment


              • #8
                i think that at this point with all the back up pump plans, you will need to increase the size of the pit. this will help in the short cycle that you have. a pedistall pump with an adjustable float rod will allow for a better tuned in on off cycle. the problem with a teather type float switch is that they tend to hang up in a small pit. once again the depth is not as important as the width. you need more volume, not depth.

                rick.
                phoebe it is

                Comment


                • #9
                  Here is a pic of the sump dimensions...

                  I once was thinking that I could just cut it away to the upper ring size (19.5 inches), and then put a new liner inside of that....
                  But there may be no liners of that size made anymore, and/or maybe that won't still be wide enough....

                  So, if/when getting a new sump liner, you are saying that wide is the way to go? If the liner were deeper, would that be a bad thing?...

                  I went to Homey D's, but all I had seen were sewage sumps, no drainage sumps... they were 30 inches deep, but I forget how wide....
                  Suppose I should just go to a real plumbing supply house (there's one nearby)?
                  They'll probably have Zoeller pumps as well (HD don't have those either)....
                  I'm thinking they last a long time -- certainly the one I have now did....
                  Although, the rigid one that I got there a couple months ago, D500, seems pretty damn beefy too (runs strong and quiet).

                  So, the idea of the wide sump with a pedestal for the primary, and the submersible for the secondary is okay? .... or should it be the reverse?

                  thanx,
                  K
                  Attached Files

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    why not just build one out of concrete? you could buy the cardboard "sana tube" as a form. or use plywood to frame your pit.

                    a pedistall pump will allow for better float adjustment on a deep pit. a sump pump with a built in float is better for a wide opening.

                    if all you can do with your pit is deaper, then use the pedistall for the primary and the sump pump as a backup.

                    there are pump controllers that alternate 2 pumps and allow for adjustable level controll with a high water alarm. these are expensive and require a wide pit for all the floats.

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Rick:

                      Thanx for the help....

                      I was wondering if you were not very enthusiastic about pedestal pumps for some reason? If this is so, is it because they may be noisier, or is it due to the height of the motor above to floor, or could it be that the motor could be vulnerable, or all the above?!

                      Anyway, your ideas of the replacement sump liner sound good...

                      Although, right now, I'd like to work on the other (new) sump, which will be below the exterior steps...
                      The sump area is enclosed by a rectangle, 2 feet by 3 feet wide; there are the 3 concrete walls of the bulkhead, and a solid poured concrete step (as the bottom step of the stairs)...
                      This area sits 3 inches below the basement floor slab...
                      I was thinking I could pretty much turn that whole area into a sump, breaking the concrete bottom, and then using your suggestion to build sump walls with plywood forms for the sides, OR I could get that 30 inch deep sewage sump pit at Homey D's and adapt it to a drainage sump pit... (I think it is 22 or maybe 24 inches wide).
                      It's a little deep, but I could just place the pumps up off the bottom (or, is it even a 'bad' thing to have the depth of a pump lower than 24 inches?) ... plus, it's only 50 bucks.... (I had called a plumbing supply to price a duplex sump pit (fiberglass) and it was over 500 bucks!!! ridiculous!)...

                      With the extra depth, doesn't that make staggering the activation depths of the two pumps (primary and secondary) easier?

                      Btw, are Sono-tubes expensive?

                      thanx,
                      K

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by luftweg
                        Rick:

                        Thanx for the help....

                        I was wondering if you were not very enthusiastic about pedestal pumps for some reason? If this is so, is it because they may be noisier, or is it due to the height of the motor above to floor, or could it be that the motor could be vulnerable, or all the above?! these are a thing of the past. i have not seen a new installation of a pedistall pump for years (25+) the one advantage is that you have a better adjustable range for the pump to cycle.

                        Anyway, your ideas of the replacement sump liner sound good...

                        Although, right now, I'd like to work on the other (new) sump, which will be below the exterior steps...
                        The sump area is enclosed by a rectangle, 2 feet by 3 feet wide; there are the 3 concrete walls of the bulkhead, and a solid poured concrete step (as the bottom step of the stairs)...
                        This area sits 3 inches below the basement floor slab...
                        I was thinking I could pretty much turn that whole area into a sump, breaking the concrete bottom, and then using your suggestion to build sump walls with plywood forms for the sides, OR I could get that 30 inch deep sewage sump pit at Homey D's and adapt it to a drainage sump pit... (I think it is 22 or maybe 24 inches wide). good choice.
                        It's a little deep, but I could just place the pumps up off the bottom (or, is it even a 'bad' thing to have the depth of a pump lower than 24 inches?) nothing wrong since the whole head height is still 10'. ... plus, it's only 50 bucks.... (I had called a plumbing supply to price a duplex sump pit (fiberglass) and it was over 500 bucks!!! ridiculous!)...

                        With the extra depth, doesn't that make staggering the activation depths of the two pumps (primary and secondary) easier? yes, but you still have the short cycle issue. you need a larger diameter pit, not depth.

                        Btw, are Sono-tubes expensive? no.

                        thanx,
                        K
                        the sono tubes are cardboard and are avaliable in many diameters. the expense is in concrete and labor to mix and pour the concrete. prefabed units are more expensive upfront, but labor is cheap.

                        rick.
                        phoebe it is

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Rick:

                          >> With the extra depth, doesn't that make staggering the activation depths of the two pumps (primary and secondary) easier? yes, but you still have the short cycle issue. you need a larger diameter pit, not depth. <<

                          Couldn't I just hook up an external double float switch, and 'lock' the pump's integral float switch to the on position (and remove its float) to allow me to get a large range of depth for the cycle...

                          (But I know that this still won't easily allow for a second pump in the pit)

                          Sorry I'm harping on this, but I wanna try to avoid changing out the old sump pit; and this might be a little while off as I work on constructing the new pit on the other side of the house (which WILL be a large diameter)....

                          Btw, I thought that the fixed submersible pumps had a cycle functioning of about 8 inches depth....
                          I'm wondering how come the Zoeller submersible in the old pit only cycles for four inches?
                          I wouldn't think this should have anything to do directly with the diameter of the pit, or is it that fast rate of emptying turns it off quicker? (in other words, does the float sink so fast that it shuts off the pump sooner than if it sunk at a slower rate?)

                          I'm thinking this must be the case since there is only one float; it must be the nature of the switch to have to have more force on the downward direction to shut it off -- otherwise it would just cycle like a split-second...
                          Am I right about that part?

                          thanx,
                          K

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            the pump should have a cycle of approx. 8''. i would check that the float has full travel. you can also unplug the pump and check the travel without the pump running. it might be the excess water before the check valve refilling the pit.

                            the pedistall pump will give you a larger range of cycle times. also a float switch on a teather will also give a large range, but will hang up in a small pit.

                            rick.
                            phoebe it is

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Rick:

                              I've partially dug out the hole for the new sump pit (not the replacement for the old sump pit)...

                              It was tough going to say the least.
                              The floor thickness was at least 6 inches concrete -- in some areas easily 9 inches... all with 1.5 to 2.5 inch gravel.
                              Then there were football and even basketball sized boulders, shale, and rip-rap -- all down to at least 18 inches below the floor surface!

                              The rough size of the hole is 22 inches wide by 30 inches long; it varies in depth, so it's hard to tell that right now...

                              I temporarily placed the Ridgid submersible 1/2 hp pump in a 5 gallon pale, and secured it with large wire ties from all angles...
                              I have it so that it can be simply lifted in an out as need during the pit construction.
                              It's perforated to allow the water in the hole to freely flow, and I attached screen material to the entire outside of the pale.
                              The spot where the pump is, is about 18-20 inches deep from the floor.

                              Anyway, it works beautifully.
                              The pump ejects at least 30 gallons in one cycle, and doesn't start again for at least 30 minutes...

                              This is much different to the old sump and pit...
                              However, THAT sump pump (the old one) still seems to run pretty frequently (although probably a bit less since the other one is draining the table from the other side).

                              I checked the float on it, and it seemed to have a coating of slime or iron ocre or something; I scrubbed it off, but it only increased the depth range by maybe 1/2 inch...
                              Perhaps the float is water-logged?
                              I want to take out the whole pump to examine it but the pit still fills up too quickly to do that... (I'm starting to think more and more about replacing them pit with a 30 inch diameter one, although I even wouldn't be able to do that until the water table dropped).

                              What I think I might do -- because I'm honestly worried about that old 15 yr old Zoeller dying on me one day -- is get a replacement or backup pump for it, and somehow getting that one fuly operational first, so I can remove the Zoeller (I call the 'old girl' Zoey)...
                              Strongly thinking about another Zoeller....
                              What about other brands, like Little Giant, Liberty, etc...? (the plumbing supply place was pushing the Libertys).

                              Btw, my brother, who is in plastics engineering, said he can get me a polyethylene or polypropylene tank or 2, for cost (maybe as cheap as 15-25 bucks); I will have to adapt it to a sump pit though (perforations, plumbing, etc.).
                              I'm looking to have the new pit be either 23 diameter and 30-36 inches deep, or rectangular, 20-22 wide, 28 long, and 30 inches deep.

                              thanx for the advice; I'm understanding what you meant about the diameters/width and cycling,
                              K

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