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Old 03-31-2013, 11:38 AM   #1
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(Almost) inaccessible second sump


Our house has a second sump pump that we are somewhat concerned about. Our main sump pump discharges to the exterior, runs about six feet, then takes a 90 degree turn into the ground. Due to the amount of pipe exposed to the Minnesota air, it froze and we have had to temporarily reroute our sump pump discharge. We'll address that issue later this spring.

Our second sump pump has been running frequently, and it is also louder than it has been in the past. I'm worried that it might have run into the same issue, although it is not running constantly. I placed my hand over the basket cover, but the pit doesn't feel overly warm.

The problem is that we're not sure where this second pump discharges, and can't easily get into the basket. I've attached a few pictures. What's the purpose of this second sump? Can an expert tell from the size of the pipes the probable source(s) and discharge? Why would this one be put together in such a way that it is difficult to get to?

Thank you for your help!
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(Almost) inaccessible second sump-sump01.jpg   (Almost) inaccessible second sump-sump02.jpg   (Almost) inaccessible second sump-sump03.jpg  

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Old 03-31-2013, 11:46 AM   #2
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(Almost) inaccessible second sump


That looks like a sewage ejection pit and not a sump. Trust me, you do not want to take the lid off that beast. You must a bathroom below grade, therefore there is no flow by gravity to the septic system

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Old 03-31-2013, 11:48 AM   #3
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(Almost) inaccessible second sump


Undo the bolts and clamps, lift the lid, and find out.

Find out whether this is indeed a sump pump versus a sewage pump.

The source for a sump pump system is underground, usually consisting of 3 inch to 4 inch pipes dumping into the pit.

Also trace the large pipe coming out through the lid. The small pipe looks to me as a normal pump output pipe but going to the house main drain. You must not put the sump pump output to a septic tank system as that will cause an overload (sheer volume of water) that will make it seem like your septic system has failed. Immediately disconnect that and if necessary use a hose out a window as a temporary substitute.

It is not good to dump water from gutters and downspouts or ground ditches into the sump pump pit. This increases the workload and therefore shortens the life of the sump pump. You definitely do not want to drain washing machine water or sink water into the pit. This will corrode the pump and really shorten its life.
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Old 03-31-2013, 11:56 AM   #4
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(Almost) inaccessible second sump


Allan knows more then I, but I think you could just follow the waste pipe from the bathroom and if it deposits there, then you've got the answer.

In many places it is against code to dump washing machine water into a sump (not a sewage) pit
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Old 03-31-2013, 12:40 PM   #5
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definitely a sewage pit. sump pumps are 1-1/2 pipe and don't have a 3 inch vent. it also ties into the sewer line.
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Old 03-31-2013, 12:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creeper View Post
Allan knows more then I, but I think you could just follow the waste pipe from the bathroom and if it deposits there, then you've got the answer.
Our main floor bathroom is above grade, but I followed the pipe with the arrows in the picture and it does indeed originate from that bathroom.

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Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
Also trace the large pipe coming out through the lid. The small pipe looks to me as a normal pump output pipe but going to the house main drain. You must not put the sump pump output to a septic tank system as that will cause an overload (sheer volume of water) that will make it seem like your septic system has failed. Immediately disconnect that and if necessary use a hose out a window as a temporary substitute.
Is it acceptable for the small pipe to go to the house main drain? Also, our main sump pump does not output to a septic tank system.

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Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
It is not good to dump water from gutters and downspouts or ground ditches into the sump pump pit. This increases the workload and therefore shortens the life of the sump pump. You definitely do not want to drain washing machine water or sink water into the pit. This will corrode the pump and really shorten its life.
We actually have our gutters and downspouts routed to an underground pipe which runs about fifty feet to a drain at the lowest corner of our yard. Our sump pump discharges via PVC pipe out of the house, six feet to the south, then turns 90 degrees and joins the discharge from the gutters and downspouts. I'm not sure where our laundry drains, but I know it's not the sump basket.

So, two follow-up questions: 1) What's our best bet to avoid discharge freezing for our sump pump again next year? Should we dig up all of the existing pipe and bury it below the frost line? We'd still have to keep the end drain cap clear of snow and ice, of course... not quite sure of an efficient way to do that. Or, should we install some type of valve close to the exterior so that we can discharge into the yard during the winter months?

2) Any thoughts on what would cause that increased noise volume in the sewage discharge system? It almost sounds like gears grinding together.

Thanks again,
Paul
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Old 03-31-2013, 01:02 PM   #7
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I live in the land of ice and snow as well and also have a sump.

No need to bury below th frost line providing you have (1) a check valve on the discharge pipe...inside the house ..

and (2) if you have enough of a pitch on the pipe to keep the water running all the way to the exit. Running water will not freeze.
and it need not be a steep slope, just enough to keep it flowing.

A plumber will be along shortly to advise you about the grinding pump noise.

I don't manually clear mine. The warmish ground water will melt an exit, plus you may find the discharge slows considerably in the winter months
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Old 03-31-2013, 08:41 PM   #8
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(Almost) inaccessible second sump


What drains do you have in the basement?

What you have is a sewage pump in the basement. The pipe going to your 1st floor bath is the vent to air.
Open it up and see what you find you might have bad bearings on that pump...
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:07 PM   #9
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What drains do you have in the basement?

What you have is a sewage pump in the basement. The pipe going to your 1st floor bath is the vent to air.
Open it up and see what you find you might have bad bearings on that pump...
Thanks, Ghostmaker. We just have one drain, which is located to the right of the water heater (pictured) and just in front of it.

That sounds like fun... this is an area I've never tackled before. I'll loosen those nuts on the floor and see if I can lift the cover. Any precautions I should take before doing so, or issues I should be aware of? Besides making sure no one is using the restroom at the time...
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:09 PM   #10
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Un plug the pump.

While your in there make sure where your floor drain enters the sump it is sealed and ground water is not getting through that hole.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:23 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Un plug the pump
LOL Good call, thanks.

Would the basic steps essentially be the following?
  1. Disconnect power
  2. Disconnect riser pipe
  3. Pull the pump from the basin
  4. Check to see if impeller turns freely

I'm assuming there is a check valve to prevent backflow from the main waste line. It's kind of hard to see in the picture, but I suspect I have a gate valve about halfway up. Still, I expect I should be prepared for a little fun back into the sewage basin.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
While your in there make sure where your floor drain enters the sump it is sealed and ground water is not getting through that hole.
I'm not quite sure I follow... doesn't a floor drain typically drain into the sewage pit? I poured several buckets of water down the floor drain as a test last week and didn't see a corresponding flow into the sump basin.
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:27 PM   #12
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Shut off the gate valve. The back flow may malfunction and a bath is no fun...
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Old 04-01-2013, 01:32 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Shut off the gate valve. The back flow may malfunction and a bath is no fun...
Thanks. I'll be sure to post a picture of the amateur homeowner in over his head -- just hopefully not literally.
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Old 04-01-2013, 07:59 PM   #14
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Wait a minute. Before you open that pit, do you have a bathroom or laundry or other plumbing fixtures in the basement? If you run water in these fixtures (several minutes worth of running needed), does the pump in that second pit go on and off in response? This will tell you whether that is a sewage pit or a sump pump pit.
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Old 04-02-2013, 08:34 AM   #15
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AllanJ, I did indeed do that yesterday afternoon, and that pump does respond. However, I discovered that it doesn't always make that grinding noise. So, it's not a consistent problem. Still, it's something we'll want to address sooner rather than later. The more I think about it, the more I feel like I might be getting into something a little over my head, and that it might be prudent to bring in a pro. Too bad none of gents is in Minnesota!

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