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Old 01-13-2010, 02:25 PM   #1
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


A little background
- I live in Iowa
- Built a house on old pasture land
- My sump runs constantly all year round, probably empties 12 inches of water every 5-10 minutes, more during heavy rainstorms and even runs when we have weeks well below freezing
- The sump pumps into the storm sewer via buried draintile - code in my area
- All the drainspouts are quite a distance away from the house when discharging - most around 6-7 feet.
- I have a zoeller pump and recently put in a zoeller backup which has come in handy a couple times during power outages
- I have several drain tiles running into the sump, one even under the pad. None of them drain water except the one that wraps around the back of the house.
- 9 foot deep basement, mostly buried
- During heavy rains I get a 3-4 foot wide river through the middle of my backyard.
- How do I stop my sump from running all the time? What are my drainage solutions? I need help. . . I feel my basement will be flooding someday if I don't care of it.

Here is a front picture of the lot before I built the house

Here is a side view after the house was in construction


Here are some pictures of land to help you visualize

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Old 01-14-2010, 01:06 PM   #2
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


No one????

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Old 01-14-2010, 01:35 PM   #3
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


I assume you have a check valve immediately above your pump, since you describe a quality pump system. Many fields in Iowa were drained using drain tile (gapped clay or concrete) to lower the moisture levels common in the flat lands of Iowa. It is cheaper to replace a pump every year or two than do a major system, since good pumps last a long time if they are kept clean. - They can be annoying depending on the location and isolation.

From the photos you seem to have drainage toward your home from the adjacent land. It also appears that there is some granular materials/aggregate in the area, but it could just be fill. - Not the familiar dark good growing soil that can get impossible with rains.

You do not drain water away in dperforated rain tile, but use a solid walled pipe (preferably pvc).

These field tiles (if it was a field) are probably still there and collecting water that can eventually get to your foundation.

Find some old-timers and find out what the land was previously was like and used for. That could provide some clues before investigating the old field/pasture.
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:29 PM   #4
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


Talk to your closest neighbors. If they have issues as well then I'd say the 1) the groundwater table is very high in you area, or 2) the foundation drain system install wiht your houses is lacking. If it is just your house it could be as the other poster mentioned that you have an old farm field tile drian going right to your foundation or that the field drained right to your lot. See if you can findsome old aerial photos to look at (call the sounth soil and water conservaiton district office) It could also be that the foundation drain line is blocked?
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Old 02-06-2010, 05:52 PM   #5
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


This is definitely a problem that is going to require more homework on your part. Dittos on checking with neighbors as your first step. If you are in the same boat as everyone else (no pun intended)...well, sump pumps are sometimes the final and only solution.

A good pump system with reliable backup often beats the alternative, which is usually very expensive and very messy even when it is possible. Check back in if you find you are a candidate for a fix. We can help you decide which route to go.
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Old 02-07-2010, 09:30 AM   #6
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


An exterior perimeter drain along the foundation walls just below the height of the footings would be the best way to drain the water without a pump- but you would need enough pitch from the footing to daylight (or storm drain) for this to work.
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Old 02-07-2010, 12:27 PM   #7
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


Quote:
Originally Posted by concretemasonry View Post
I assume you have a check valve immediately above your pump, since you describe a quality pump system. Many fields in Iowa were drained using drain tile (gapped clay or concrete) to lower the moisture levels common in the flat lands of Iowa. It is cheaper to replace a pump every year or two than do a major system, since good pumps last a long time if they are kept clean. - They can be annoying depending on the location and isolation.

From the photos you seem to have drainage toward your home from the adjacent land. It also appears that there is some granular materials/aggregate in the area, but it could just be fill. - Not the familiar dark good growing soil that can get impossible with rains.

You do not drain water away in dperforated rain tile, but use a solid walled pipe (preferably pvc).

These field tiles (if it was a field) are probably still there and collecting water that can eventually get to your foundation.

Find some old-timers and find out what the land was previously was like and used for. That could provide some clues before investigating the old field/pasture.
This was my first thought as well. I've seen a few houses put in around here where the excavation intersected old farm field tile. Hopefully it was re-directed around the basement, but I've found that isn't always the case, do to cutting corners. We have a company around here that still specializes in field draintiling work, and has installed most of it through the decades in this county. They would be my first stop for help in identifying the problem. Hopefully you can locate a company like that in your area.

It could also be the natural ground water table is high in this area. This should have been fairly noticeable during the construction of the house though.

Can you check what level the water is below the floor when the pump kicks in?
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Old 02-07-2010, 03:01 PM   #8
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


I assume from your post that you are concerned that the sump pump may quit one day, allowing basement flooding. The fact that it pumps essentially continuously shows that the groundwater table is well above the sump pit elevation. So in order to eliminate the need for the pump, you would need to lower the groundwater table around your house to below the sump pit elevation, which would require installation of a perimeter drain sufficiently sized to carry off all the groundwater to the storm drain. This would probably be a large, expensive project.

I recommend you hire a local drainage engineer to perform a comprehensive analysis of your site, including determination of the groundwater level, evaluation of alternatives for drainage, and design of a system if practical. You simply cannot get reasonable direction from a DIY internet site in this type of complex case.
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Old 02-13-2010, 12:28 PM   #9
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


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You simply cannot get reasonable direction from a DIY internet site in this type of complex case.
Good advice. As several have suggested, a bit of homework is needed to even begin to guide TANC. He seemed a bit put-off when no one answered his question withing 24 hours. He's had a month of questions and suggestions but has not replied back. That's a bit of a put-off for those trying to help. Still, it's good followup for anyone searching on a similiar issue.

Hey TANC, anything to report?
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Old 02-14-2010, 11:19 AM   #10
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


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Originally Posted by CallMeChaz View Post
Good advice. As several have suggested, a bit of homework is needed to even begin to guide TANC. He seemed a bit put-off when no one answered his question withing 24 hours. He's had a month of questions and suggestions but has not replied back. That's a bit of a put-off for those trying to help. Still, it's good followup for anyone searching on a similiar issue.

Hey TANC, anything to report?
Just waiting for the snow to melt to check out everyone's suggestions first. . .. hard to do anything till my 40 inches of snow left to melt.

No need to be trying to pick a fight Chaz. . .

Last edited by TANC; 02-14-2010 at 11:31 AM. Reason: fixed spelling error
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:22 AM   #11
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


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Originally Posted by TANC View Post
Just waiting for the snow to melt to check out everyone's suggestions first. . .. hard to do anything till my 40 inches of snow left to melt.

No need to be trying to pick a fight Chaz. . .
Pick a fight?? Hey, we thought you drown! Actually, it's hard to know if a thread has died after a while. I still think you have a 50-50% chance of at least figuring this one out from here--OK maybe 30-70%. Fixing it...now that's another story.

I was curious, did you ever find out if your neighbors are running pumps all the time?
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Old 02-15-2010, 11:30 AM   #12
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


House 1 up the hill runs all the time too, house 2 up runs hardly ever. . .very odd.

I also verified draintiles from the fields, they all flow down from the back of their house, quite a ways away from my house.
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Old 02-15-2010, 01:15 PM   #13
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


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House 1 up the hill runs all the time too, house 2 up runs hardly ever. . .very odd.

I also verified draintiles from the fields, they all flow down from the back of their house, quite a ways away from my house.
Yoiks! Nothing like consistant results to pin it down. If you are confident of the tile info, it narrows it a bit.

I understand your apprehension about depending on a pump. It drove me to finally dig up my foundation--I found a lovely underground reservoir of water-laden gravel that I was able to drain to daylight. Prior to that, I had no foundation drains. Do you even have the option of going to daylight?
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Old 02-15-2010, 03:16 PM   #14
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


No option to go to daylight. . .. . .best case I could take the water and drain it to my neighbors lot that is one more down the hill from me.
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Old 02-16-2010, 12:06 AM   #15
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Help with drainaige - Sump constantly running


There might be the posibility of a natural spring running a few feet underground.

It's good you're still in the construction process and had plenty of manuverability-room to spare.
If so, it might be able to be drained to a sewer(?) or a pond.

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