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Old 12-18-2007, 07:59 AM   #1
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


Hi,

I am trying to determine what is going on with my basement.
My house is located higher than the storm water drainage system. It sits on a small hill with slope on one side. The slope direction is from the front of the house (highest elevation) towards the back yard (lowest elevation).

The basement itself is a walk out basement - on one side it has a door that leads to the back yard and on the other side it has concrete wall (this is the front of the house). The basement concrete wall is probably 6-7 feet high, and it is below the surface of the house main level. Behind the wall is the soil that is at the house front.

The basement wall is dry. The basement floor is dry. BTW, the basement floor is concrete.

There is a sump pump in one of the corners, next to the concrete wall.
I have been living in the house for 4 years and I never saw that pump working - there was never a need for it work.
The last few weeks, the pump has been engaging at least once per day.
It was raining for a couple of days, but not a heavy rain - very light rain.
Moreover, the rain stopped 2 days ago, and the sump pit is still filling with water.

The sump pit has two 4 inch black pipes going in. One comes from the direction of the concrete wall, and the other comes from the opposite direction (looks like from the middle of the basement).
I noticed that water leaks only from the black pipe that comes from the basement direction. When I put my hand below the pipe I can feel the water flowing. Not very fast but enough to fill the pit.
Sometimes the water will drain on itself, without the pump kicking in - I guess when the flow stops. But then it starts again.
This morning, I went and checked the water level. It was not covering the pump. I have shower in the basement. I went and took shower. Then went back and checked the water level. The pump was under water.

The water in the sump pit is crystal clean and there is not an odor.

I am really puzzled what is going on.
Could it be that the main water line that comes to the house, leaks, before entering the house, and that water somehow gets under the basement?
I was thinking that maybe the sewer was backed up and overflowing into the sump pit - but there is not odor and the water is very clean. (the house is connected to the city sewer system)

I want to know where the water is coming from. What would be the best thing to do?
The house was built in 1983, and it is a town house. It is the last house in a row of 6 houses.

Thanks,

Dimitar

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Old 12-18-2007, 01:08 PM   #2
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


If the water level in the sump increases when you take a shower then it indicates a leak in the drain pipe associated with the shower (assuming you have no leak between the shower valve and shower head).

Your going to need to play detective to confirm if this is a leak and then to track it down. It could be as simple as a leak where the shower strainer connects to the DWV pipe.

You could put some food coloring in the shower drain and run water. See if the color shows up in the sump.

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Old 12-18-2007, 01:28 PM   #3
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


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If the water level in the sump increases when you take a shower then it indicates a leak in the drain pipe associated with the shower (assuming you have no leak between the shower valve and shower head)....
Not necessarily...it could mean that the volume of water that's coming into the pit happened to be enough to cover the pump while he was in the shower. The house I sold a year ago had a pit and in the spring it would cycle maybe every 20 seconds or so...it sounded as though the water was being dumped into the pit via garden hose. I mean it poured in.

From what you say in your post, it sounds like the sump pit is doing as it should. I'd be willing to bet that what your drain tiles are doing nothing more than giving the ground water a place to go as it should. There's an amazing amount of water in the ground naturally...be thankful there's a place besides in your house where it'll go.

You don't say where you are, whether you've been in a drought situation for some time. Does your house have gutters? Details man, details.
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Old 12-18-2007, 02:10 PM   #4
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


Thanks for the replies.

My house is in Northern VA.
Yes, the summer was very dry.
The house has gutters, though they do not go very far from the foundation.

To me it does not look like a gutters issue. I have been in that house 4+ years, and I have seen very heavy rains, and the sump pump was never needed.
The hill where the house is, is not that big. Usually, after rain the soil dries in a day.
And the slope direction is such that the water goes down the slope - it does not accumulate next to the house.

I am planning to turn off the water to the house, from the main valve and see if the water meter will change.

I will also try the shower in the basement - I think I will just let the hot water run for a little bit and see if the water in the sump pit is warm/hot.

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Old 12-18-2007, 03:15 PM   #5
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


Unless the shower is within feet of your sump, the water won't be hot. You'd have to heat up the entire ground and foundation before the water came out warm.

I'd try the food-coloring instead. Put a bunch in there, and run the shower for a few minutes. Collect the water coming out of the pipe, and see if it's colored.
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:19 PM   #6
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


I turned off the water from the main water valve.
I went to the meter, which is across the lawn, in front of the house and it still was showing water consumption. The arrow was moving quite fast. I waited about 15 minutes and checked again - same thing.

So it is the main water line. Now I am looking for a plumber who can fix that.
What would be a reasonable price for this type of work?
I do not have trees infront of the house. Only 3 small bushes. And there is also concrete walk path - approximately 2 foot wide. One or more pieces of this path will need to be removed/lifted.

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Old 12-18-2007, 06:56 PM   #7
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


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I turned off the water from the main water valve.
I went to the meter, which is across the lawn, in front of the house and it still was showing water consumption. The arrow was moving quite fast. I waited about 15 minutes and checked again - same thing.
If you turn off the water valve inside the house and the outside meter is still moving then there is a leak.


Can you see any soft spots in the lawn?
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:06 PM   #8
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


I can not see them, but I can feel them.
There is area where the soil feels very soft and soaked. When I step there, I feel it is soft.

One other detail - the main water line comes from underneath the basement floor. It looks to me, this explains why water comes from the pipe that points towards the middle of the basement, not the other one that points toward the basement wall.

I do not think this is related to the sewer. Today, from 7AM until 7PM showers were not used. Still water keeps coming at the same rate.


If it is not the main water line then the only other explanation I see is spring under the house ... or water problem in the neighbors. But I already asked the neighbors and their basement is Ok, and their sump pit is dry.
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Old 12-19-2007, 04:26 AM   #9
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


I would call a plumber ASAP.

The water that is leaking and causing your meter to spin is costing you money every minute.

And if the sump pump fails then you will have further problems.
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Old 12-19-2007, 07:54 AM   #10
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


I have several people coming today to give me quotes.

Any ideas what a reasonable quote would be (to install new 30-40 feet pipe, no landscaping involved, and no roads or any concrete structures on the way, except the house foundation)?

I already got one which is for more than $3000.
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Old 12-19-2007, 08:18 AM   #11
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


Depends where you're at...

In the Mid-west, a neighbor had a new water main w/meter installed via horizontal boring for $1500 from the street in probably 60-70 feet.
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Old 12-19-2007, 10:54 AM   #12
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


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Originally Posted by dimitar View Post
I have several people coming today to give me quotes.

Any ideas what a reasonable quote would be (to install new 30-40 feet pipe, no landscaping involved, and no roads or any concrete structures on the way, except the house foundation)?

I already got one which is for more than $3000.

Seems high for just 30 or so feet.

Get more quotes.
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Old 12-19-2007, 11:17 AM   #13
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


Are your neighbors house close to yours?

If so, then you may want to have the water turned off to your house and run a hose from the neighbors water to yours if your water meter is leaking a considerable amount of water per hour. You would compensate them.

If the water is turned off to your house then this will give your lawn time to dry and not make it as muddy when the trench is dug up.

If you, a family member, friend or neighbors is up to the task of digging the trench then that should cover the majority of the cost of replacing the line.
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Old 12-19-2007, 12:59 PM   #14
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Sump pit filling with water in dry weather


In Mass it cost me $2000 to have 20' of supply line excavated and replaced (remove lead, replace with copper) from the house to the street. There was one small section of sidewalk that needed to be repoured.

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