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Old 09-04-2011, 03:21 PM   #1
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sump issues

Hi all,

I've been researching my issue for the past week and decided ill just ask.

Moved in the house less than a year ago. Sump pit is just a hole where the sewer trap is. The pump drains into sewer line. Never thought anything of it because the basement was super dry and no evidence of water issues

Got a little water in it a few months ago, but not enough to trigger pump. 3 weeks ago we got 8" of rain in one day. Pump was active a lot, no issues. Water ceased after a few days.

Last week, hurricane Irene came. Woke up to 2" of water in basement because the float got.wedged. drained it out. Basement smells now.

Bleached floors, yet still have smell. Cleaned out dirt around pit that was wet and above water level, still smells. Water is still active in the pit and my pump runs at least once per hour.

The smell is sort of foul, not sure if its sewer smell or sulfur.

I'm going to make a proper sump pit: basin, gravel, cover, vent, cement around it and exposed sewer pipe, etc.....I figure that will keep the pump clean, make the basement look nicer and hopefully stop the smell. I would love to just cement the bottom and walls around the pit, but I can't keep water out now

Doesn't it make sense that I am getting so much water a week after rain stopping in what has been a dry pit?

When I get home, I'm going to open the trap to see if there is water in it. Is there anything I can do to test the water to see if its ground water or city?


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Old 09-04-2011, 06:24 PM   #2
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Your sump pump should not drain to the sewer line, if your town allows it can drain to the storm system. However, many towns still have combined sewer systems (storm drainage and sewer drainage use the same pipes), in which case you may not be allowed to connect to the drain system at all. You may have to drain to the street drainage system.

As to the pump running, well groundwater typically drops relatively slowly, so it is not surprising that the pump would still be running after so much rain. As to distinguishing groundwater from city water, I don't know why you think there would be city (potable) water in your sump. This could only happen if there were a leak in the city supply line. You could distinguish city water from groundwater if you ran chemical tests on the water, there is typically chlorine in city water, and normally no chlorine in groundwater.


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Old 09-04-2011, 07:25 PM   #3
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Let me rephrase, I think its my sewer line. My storm drains go into a pipe and lead to this line. I'm just guessing that its the sewer line. It's nyc. I don't know the local code.

I'll try and get some chlorine strips.
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:39 PM   #4
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Also, by sewer line, I mean the line that carries my waste water.....not sure if that is the right term
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Old 09-04-2011, 07:45 PM   #5
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You have three separate components.

1. The drain line which should have been sealed except for an opening where additional waste water can be poured in.

2. The sump (pit) which has no outlet other than random or pre-perforated holes that either let the pit contents soak into the ground or that let ground water come up into the pit.

3. A sump pump, that empties out the pit, injecting the water into the opening in the drain line.

In your case part 3 failed while it appears as if part 1 and part 2 are still functioning properly.

In cities where dumping storm water or sump pump water into drains is not allowed, the sump pump should pump the water up and out of the basement and out of the house, to somewhere that the water does not collect against the side of the foundation. The opening in Part 1 that used to accept water from a sump pump should be closed unless it is the drain from a nearby sink or washing machine.

You probably don't need a new sump pit. If you did construct one it would do the same thing as your existing sump does. It would let water to soak into the gravel just outside the basin (liner) into the soil, or in wet conditions the water can't soak in and instead water saturating the ground will come up into the basin. If enough water came in to overflow onto the floor, a sump pump has to get rid of the water.

It is undesirable and impossible to control water by sealing a lid on the sump. If the water got high enough to want to overflow and you sealed the water in the sump, then the water will come up into the basement somewhere else, between the foundation wall and the basement floor for example.

Part II -- Totally separate topic.
The basement has a bad odor.

If you can get a test tube full of water from the sump and take that to a laboratory, the technicians there can tell you whether it was contaminated by sewage.

You need to clean and disinfect all surfaces that the flooding water from Hurricane Irene touched. Porous materials including drywall and wall insulation would need to be ripped out and replaced.
The good conscientious technician or serviceperson will carry extra oils and lubricants in case the new pump did not come with oil or the oil was accidentally spilled, so the service call can be completed without an extra visit.

Last edited by AllanJ; 09-05-2011 at 08:41 AM.
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