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emg2525 06-16-2011 06:30 PM

Sump pump runs, basement humid, yard wet...HELP!
I moved into a new home 90 days ago. It is a brand new home. Here are a few details.

When I first moved in, the Sump Pump was going off ALL the time. It would last for a few seconds and drain out properly, however, it was going off probably 10x/hour. That was when we were getting a significant amount of rain. Now, the rain has subsided, however, the sump pump still goes off about 4x/hour at times. Is it problematic for a sump pump to be going off this often still, or is just the luck of the draw with the water plane I'm on?

I recently checked the humidity in the unfinished portion of my basement. It was 75%! I have now been running a dehumidifier and have lowered it to 50%, however, it is running quite a bit to keep the RH level that low. Is it concerning that my basement is this humid - can that be a common problem?

Finally, I have noticed that the sides of my yards will collect standing water after a heavy rain, or if I run my irrigation system for a good chunk of time. Eventually the standing water subsides, but should this be happening, and could it be contributing to the sump pump and/or humidity occurrences?

I hope someone can help this dumb homeowner out! I'm just trying to figure out if I have a few isolated inconveniences on my hand, or a more widespread problem on my hand. And, if so, who to speak to about it??? Thank you!

DrHicks 06-16-2011 07:02 PM

When the sump pump comes on, does it run for a minute or two (or three), or does it run for about 15 seconds and turn off?

If it's the latter, it could be that the float is set so that it turns on every time you get an inch or two of water in the sump hole. Adjust the float.

I'm not sure if that's the whole issue, but it could certainly be part of it.

gregzoll 06-16-2011 07:16 PM

With the sump pump running, that would go in line with all of the rain that the majority of the U.S. had in Late Spring. As for the humidity, it depends on how air tight the basement is, if there is insulation along the perimeter of the Rim & joist bays, and if it is a conditioned space. How old is the home.

user1007 06-16-2011 07:54 PM

Where is the water from the sump pump going? If it is just being pumped outside the house and the land is graded toward the basement, you are just pumping out to have it seep back in? You may want to consider a perimeter sump system. In theory it will keep water from ever reaching the basement.

It sounds like you need to address some drainage issues. You might want to check with neighbors to see if they are experiencing problems too. Often developers get away with scraping land, building homes, and doing absolute minimum amounts of work to restore drainage to the overall development. I mediated a situation with homeowners in a development once. All of them had been trying to resolve drainage issues property by property and in the process draining their land on to the neighbors. Lawsuits were being filed. I got them to pool money they would have spent on legal fees and spend it on civil engineering and regrading the entire development site where needed instead. No problems at all anymore. It was not that expensive either.

If it is your problem alone you still need to resolve it and you might want to bring in a civil engineer, grading contractor or landscape architect to advise on what you should do to resolve the drainage issue. Chasing drainage issues on the scale you describe with Mickey Mouse fixes will get you nowhere fast and cost you tons of money long term.

As for humidity in the basement, 50 percent is a bit sticky but not awful given how much moisture getting in to trigger the sump pump. You might need a more capable and more efficient dehumidifier or another one to add to the one you have. It is a pain to empty them but you can set them up to be self-draining. Again, paying retail for consumer dehumidifiers will add up on you. Calling in an HVAC person might be worth it in the long run.

And yes, sump pumps will go on and off frequently depending on where you have the float set. If you have them on a hair trigger you will burn them out quickly. And this will happen when the rain storm of the century hits and you are on vacation somewhere far, far away.

emg2525 06-16-2011 08:26 PM

Thanks for the help, guys.

This is a brand new home. The sump pump only comes on for a few seconds at a time and does a quick drain. I have considered raising the float slightly...

I still am under builder's warranty with everything...

gregzoll 06-16-2011 08:40 PM

If it is coming on for a few minutes, then shutting off, it is oversized possibly. If this is a newly built home, get the GC back. As for humidity levels, it depends also on the temp. Right now my house is 73 upstairs with 48% humidity, basement is 68 at 52% humidity. Outside it is 78 at 74% humidity, dew point is 69. Those factors all together will determine humidity, along with moisture content from the French Drain if it is open to the atmosphere in the basement.

Do yourself a favor and get something like the Radioshack Weather Forecaster that has remote units to measure various areas, along with using a weather program like Weather Watcher to see the outside temps. Start watching overall temps and humidity in the house, and compare to outside over a period of a couple of days. I would though look at how many horsepower the sump is, and maybe move down a step since again, you stated that it only runs a couple of minutes then shuts down. That means it is moving water too quickly, but also, can not keep up, which also means that you have a high water table.

If you can, post a picture of the outside of the lay of the land if you wish, and you can also do a screen shot of the area in Bing maps or google maps showing satellite. You may want to check the flood plain info from to see if your area is in possibly wetlands, etc. If new community, or if you did not see the property before any building started, it is possibly that you are near a old creek, wetland, etc.

emg2525 06-16-2011 08:49 PM

I was slightly concerned that the Sump Pump wasn't getting to the street (it only comes on for about 6 seconds), however, I can see that the street drain at the curb is wet (coming from the sump pump drain).

It is a new development, and I am not aware of any water in the area. The side yards are slightly lower than the front/back yard, but I feel like proper drainage should still keep water from building up.

gregzoll 06-16-2011 09:02 PM

If running for six seconds, it is over sized for the amount of water coming in. Time how long it takes to fill the Sump Well. You will have to unplug the sump, or trip the GFCI that it is plugged into to shut it off. How far is it from the bottom of the sump to where it exits the wall, and how far from the house to the curb where it exits at the street.

Problem with new builds, is all the equipment in them is pretty much the same, and the builder will always get the cheapest accessory equipment like bath fans, sump pumps, garage door openers, etc. Check with your fellow neighbors to see if they are having a problem with theirs like yours. Also, update your location to give people an idea where you are on the Continent.

emg2525 06-16-2011 09:54 PM

Tough to tell at the moment, but looks like about 1 ft from the bottom of sump pump to where it drains out. As far as the sump to the street....about 60-70 feet.

gregzoll 06-16-2011 09:56 PM

Look at the info in the attached pdf. It should help. What hp is the sump that you have in there now.

emg2525 06-16-2011 10:42 PM

Greg - I really appreciate the help. Not sure of the hp - I will check. But, I did seem to find a potential problem. When the pump is draining, it is not emptying all the way. it is only emptying about halfway - that only takes a few seconds.

Oddly enough, I had this same problem 30 days ago. They came out and replaced the pump - I watched them do it. Now - same problem.

A bit ironic to have the same problem with 2 different pumps???

I''ll have to call them in the am.

gregzoll 06-17-2011 08:05 AM

Sounds like it is not sitting on the bottom like it should. You may have to fix it yourself.

drtbk4ever 06-17-2011 08:16 AM

Can we get some photos of the sump set up. A 6 second pump run is sooo short.

I'm thinking the float needs to be adjusted. Wonder is a back flow valve standard on all new home set ups?

But photos would help. :)

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