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Old 05-15-2011, 01:29 AM   #1
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


I have a sump pit in my basement where the water comes in from a large pipe/tube. After heavy rains I will often see the water coming in and filling up the pit. When the water gets high enough the pump will turn on, just like I would expect.

For a few weeks now I've noticed that the sump pump will run on very regular intervals. I think it is about every 60-65 mins. The strange thing is that it has been very dry and I don't see any water coming through the tube. I also felt around the tube and don't feel any water coming in from that area at all. I can confirm when the pump turns on the water is sent out of the house and the pit has very little water left. If I watch it for a few mins I can tell though that the water level is very gradually rising.

I spoke to my builder (the home is only 3 years old) and he said that the only place for water to come into the pit is from that tube. Based on all of this I can only imagine that the water may very slowly be coming back into the pit from the pipe that the pump sends water out of the house. I'm guessing it is sending water out and then it takes about 60 mins for that water to leak back into the pit.

Is this possible? Could there be something else going on that I should check? I'm very nervous about this since it seems that my sump pump is running 24 times a day and eventually may burn out. Also if we did get a heavy rain I don't know if that water would fail to get out as well. Should I just call a plumber to come take a look? Is there something else that I should check? I'm not familiar with anything like this but I do have a nicely finished basement and a flood down there would be a disaster.

Thanks for the help.

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Old 05-15-2011, 06:27 AM   #2
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


More information needed----What is the outside discharge draining into? Does it run well away from the foundation?

3 Year old house? Has the fill around the foundation settled --Causing water to run back to the foundation?

Sometimes the pit liner is perforated,Either intentionally or just cracked by rough handling during installation--You may be picking up ground water from under the slab--

----Mike-----

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Old 05-15-2011, 07:09 AM   #3
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


Do you have a check valve in the discharge piping?
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Old 05-15-2011, 07:50 AM   #4
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


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Originally Posted by ks-man View Post
I have a sump pit in my basement where the water comes in from a large pipe/tube. After heavy rains I will often see the water coming in and filling up the pit. When the water gets high enough the pump will turn on, just like I would expect.

For a few weeks now I've noticed that the sump pump will run on very regular intervals. I think it is about every 60-65 mins. The strange thing is that it has been very dry and I don't see any water coming through the tube. I also felt around the tube and don't feel any water coming in from that area at all. I can confirm when the pump turns on the water is sent out of the house and the pit has very little water left. If I watch it for a few mins I can tell though that the water level is very gradually rising.

I spoke to my builder (the home is only 3 years old) and he said that the only place for water to come into the pit is from that tube. Based on all of this I can only imagine that the water may very slowly be coming back into the pit from the pipe that the pump sends water out of the house. I'm guessing it is sending water out and then it takes about 60 mins for that water to leak back into the pit.

Is this possible? Could there be something else going on that I should check? I'm very nervous about this since it seems that my sump pump is running 24 times a day and eventually may burn out. Also if we did get a heavy rain I don't know if that water would fail to get out as well. Should I just call a plumber to come take a look? Is there something else that I should check? I'm not familiar with anything like this but I do have a nicely finished basement and a flood down there would be a disaster.

Thanks for the help.
You say your sump pump is turning on and running about once per hour? That's not bad at all - especially during the spring. I once lived in a house where I could hear the water running into the sump hole during the wet spring months, and the pump would turn on every 5-10 minutes.

1. Check the location of your sump pump discharge. Where is it going? If it's just being dumped right outside the house, it's probably seeping back toward your tile.

2. Check your gutters. Make sure they're clean and functioning properly. Sorry, but you might have to walk around outside in the rain to actually see this accurately.

3. Check your gutter downspouts. Make sure they are clean, functioning properly, and getting the water no less than 5-6 feet away from the house.


Honestly, I think you're being a little overly cautious. But hey, it doesn't hurt to double check!
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:25 PM   #5
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


I took a few pictures to hopefully illustrate my sump pump/sump pit. I'll do my best to answer any questions but I'm certainly very new to all of this. The pics are at the end of the post.

Also a little background. About 3 months ago I cam home to find water shooting throughout my utility room. The pipe from the backup sump pump had disconnected from the check valve so whenever either sump pump ran they just shot water throughout the room. Thankfully I caught it before the whole basement flooded but there was still major damage and a big headache. Since then I have been very nervous about all sump pump related issues.

I don't really know anything about what is under the foundation and where the water drains to. As you can see from one of the pictures the water comes out of the sump pump and goes into the ground.

The reason I'm surprised about the pit keep filling with water is because my builder said that the only place for water to come into the pit is from the pipe seen on the right from the bird's eye view pic. He did say that water may come in from just above or below that pipe depending on how tight the seal is, but it wouldn't come in from anywhere else. I can confirm that there isn't any water coming in from any of those places.

The pump has been running for weeks now consistently every 60 mins or so. Since there isn't any new water coming in from where the builder said it would come in from I'm imagining that it is the old water that is being pumped out. Our area has been very dry for a few weeks and it is surprising to me that it would still need to run 24 times a day. I don't remember this happening last spring.

I appreciate any thoughts or recommendations for next steps.

Sump Pump 1
Sump Pump 2
Sump Pump outside
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Old 05-15-2011, 03:40 PM   #6
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


I would take a hard look at the check valve above the pump that is supposed to prevent backflows.

Dick
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Old 05-15-2011, 05:19 PM   #7
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


It is normal for water to seep into the pit from the immediate surroundings not via the big drain pipes.

The only disadvantage of having cracks or perforations in the pit liner perforated is that dirt may come in with the water.

Don't be afraid of sump pumps because the outlet pipe came loose and shot water all over the place. Just make sure that everything is assembled properly and tight.
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Old 05-15-2011, 10:44 PM   #8
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


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I would take a hard look at the check valve above the pump that is supposed to prevent backflows.

Dick
Thanks for the suggestion. Is there any way that I could take a look at the check valve or would it require calling in a plumber to check it?

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It is normal for water to seep into the pit from the immediate surroundings not via the big drain pipes.

The only disadvantage of having cracks or perforations in the pit liner perforated is that dirt may come in with the water.

Don't be afraid of sump pumps because the outlet pipe came loose and shot water all over the place. Just make sure that everything is assembled properly and tight.
I guess I'm not afraid right now of sump pumps b/c that pipe came loose. I'm afraid b/c I don't believe the pit should be filling up with water enough to require the pump to run every hour. My pump would typically only run after a heavy rain and maybe a day after that. I first noticed the every hour running about three weeks ago and in that period we've had plenty of 4-5 day stretches without any rain and even when we did have rain it was light and never caused water to come through the pipe.
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Old 05-16-2011, 08:36 AM   #9
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


When the pit liner is sealed so water can come in only via the drain pipes then the water table near the pit will go no lower than the lower lip of the pipe. If the pit liner is perforated, the pit will continue to fill until the water table at the pit drops as low as the lowest perforations. Depending on the pitch of the drain pipes, the water table all along the route of the pipes will go a few inches lower, to the bottom of the bed of gravel on which the drain pipe sits. This may or may not make a difference; all that counts is that the water table all around the foundation is lower than the basement floor.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 05-16-2011 at 08:39 AM.
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Old 05-25-2011, 07:47 PM   #10
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


So I nearly had a sump pump disaster today but thankfully the backup saved me. We got a ton of rain in the Chicago area this morning. I was in my kitchen and heard the very loud blaring of the alarm when the backup pump kicks on. I ran downstairs and saw the main pump completely filled with water and the backup pump virtually at the top also. After switching off the alarm I manually held the backup pump trigger up until the water drained in the backup pump and proceeded to trigger it on for the next 15 mins. I guess I was too nervous to just let it kick on at the right time.

When I was messing with the main pump to figure out why it hadn't activated (the float was all the way up) at one point the pump kicked on and drained the pit. It quickly filled back up and again didn't activate when the float got to the higher level. I unplugged the pump and the switch and then plugged in just the pump. It didn't turn on which seemed very strange since the motor was working fine.

I'm not entirely sure how I got the main pump to kick back on (I might have played with the float again which shouldn't matter since the switch was out or it might just have had a delay) but eventually the main pump kicked on again and drained the pit. Since the water level was all the way down I again tried to plug in the pump and switch and from that point everything worked fine. For the next four hours the pump activated every minute or so and when I left the house it was activating every four mins.

I'm assuming what happened is that something got in the way of the float triggering the switch and my messing with the pump/float got it loose. Do you think this was what happened? Is that somewhat common or is it a sign of a faulty switch that needs to be replaced? Could any of the earlier things I mentioned in this thread have contributed to today's issue? Could there still be something with the check valve that needs to be investigated?

I realize the point of the backup pump is to take care of an issue where the main pump isn't working but my nerves are definitely a little rattled (ok, shot) after having my second sump pump issue in 3 months. The water was coming in so fast when this issue happened that I don't know if the backup would have been able to keep up.

Thanks for the help.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:04 PM   #11
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


You need to recheck the floats and the switches. Yes, the switches can wear out because each time the switch goes off, there is a spark that wears the contacts a bit. Sometimes linkages can become unreliable because they got too rusty.

The back up pump should be able to drain the pit by itself without your holding the trigger, otherwise it too is out of adjustment.
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Old 05-25-2011, 08:58 PM   #12
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You need to recheck the floats and the switches. Yes, the switches can wear out because each time the switch goes off, there is a spark that wears the contacts a bit. Sometimes linkages can become unreliable because they got too rusty.

The back up pump should be able to drain the pit by itself without your holding the trigger, otherwise it too is out of adjustment.
I'm sure the backup pump would have automatically triggered on but at that point I was too nervous to let it get high enough. I just kept holding it up when it got filled until I had time to troubleshoot the main one.

A quick question about the switches. The two pumps have different types of switches and I'm trying to be sure which each is. I think the main one is a floater switch. Basically the float is on some type of rod and I slide the float up and down. When it gets to the top of the rod the sump pump activates.

I'm wondering what the backup pump switch would be considered. It also has a rod with something like a ball on the bottom which floats on the water. The difference is that the ball doesn't float up the rod. Basically when the water gets high enough the rod essentially pushes in and you hear a click which activates the pump. It seems like the water pressure triggers it. Or instead (as I did today) if I pick up the rod it will push the switch in and turn on the backup pump. Would this be a diaphragm switch?

Is one better than the other? Thanks.
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Old 05-26-2011, 08:09 AM   #13
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


I think that for your peace of mind, based on the questions you are asking, it would be best to part with some cash and let an expert check everything out and replace/repair/adjust as needed. Sometimes it's just worth the $.
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Old 05-26-2011, 11:48 AM   #14
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I think that for your peace of mind, based on the questions you are asking, it would be best to part with some cash and let an expert check everything out and replace/repair/adjust as needed. Sometimes it's just worth the $.
I definitely intend to. The crazy thing is that I was having my sump pump and backup checked every year. It was about 4 months after a service check that my first problem happened (pipe disconnecting from check valve). I had the plumbing service come and they put it all back together and it turned out that the screws just either weren't tightened or over time got looser on the check valve. The company took no responsibility for it and just said these things happen but that isn't part of the annual checkup. I said I would imagine that tightening screws would be part of an annual check but they said it is like trying to find one loose piece on a Boeing 777 (???).

Anyway I parted ways with that company after that incident and intend to bring in another plumbing company to go over the system but after that I decided not just to rely on what the plumbing company said and get some basic knowledge myself (hence why I came here).

I did find that my backup pump is a Zoeller Aquanot II which seems to be well regarded and the main pump's switch is a SJE VerticalMater. I really do appreciate all the help since now at least I know some questions to ask when a "new" professional comes out. Unfortunately I'm going away this weekend so I won't be able to have it all checked out until I get back. I think most of our rain is stopping today and since I had my issue yesterday morning my main pump has been working flawlessly with it running every 1-2 mins for the past 24 hours.

Thanks again.
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Old 05-26-2011, 01:05 PM   #15
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Sump pit keeps filling, can't see water coming in


It sounds like you are doing all the right things, and certainly it is great to have a good first hand knowledge of the systems you have even if you don't do all of the work on it.

Zoeller is good in my book, I use their 120VAC pedestal pump and also have a batter backup...had two water issues way back when, none since installing the pit and pumps myself....but I can appreciate your nervousness over the whole thing.

Biggest issue is to stay on top of the battery for the backup...don't let it run low on water and don't let it become too old....like a car it's worth swapping in a new one every so often before you need it. Good luck.

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