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Old 03-08-2011, 01:56 PM   #1
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sump pump "pit falls"


Beginning this weekend a "spring" has erupted in my basement at the site an existing sump pump opening--

Well, ok, so what I have is about a square hole that has been cut out of the slab, down about 4-5" or whatever the depth of the slab is, then it seems be rock hard dirt below. I'm not sure how large the square opening is, it looks bigger then a foot, but not bigger than two feet (at work on lunch break, will measure later). There is a "notch" extending from the corner of this square toward my block foundation wall, and from this notch is flowing quite a bit of water!

I discovered yesterday morning a full pit and about 1" of water in various places... I have a submersible pump which I tried to use to keep the "pit" empty, but the pit is too shallow for the float to operate properly... since the water seemed to stop flowing at about 1" I decided I wasn't equipped to keep up and that there isn't much I can do.

This morning the water has risen to about 2" at it's deepest, and so now there is water covering 90% of the basement floor... again, it seems to be correlating to the local water table as I can see low spots on my back yard having standing water...

I've called about 3 local water proofing companies, I have an appointment for tomorrow morning with one. I also have the advice from several friends and relatives to simply "dig the pit deeper and put in a pump".


The basement isn't finished, and although I have a TON of tools and materials down there (which are soaked), I plan to move or trash everything down there tonight, and leave only the three items I can't move... furnace (which is about 3" higher then the floor, fridge and dryer, both of which I can put up onto 2x4's to hopefully keep them mostly out of the water....

If my square opening is at least 18", then it seems like what I'd need to do to turn this into a "proper" sump pit is dig the opening down to 24" below the top of the slab, insert a perforated pump liner, fill any voids around the liner with coarse gravel, then get a pump w/ a sliding float and plumb that to push the water outside somewhere (which in itself is an issue since my yard isn't much higher than the basement floor).

Moving the water somewhere will be an issue, as I said, the lowest points on my yard having standing water and are about the same height as my basement floor. There's a storm sewer at the end of my driveway, I know it's illegal to pump into that, but in this situation it may be the only viable option because the water simply isn't going anywhere and pumping out of my basement into the yard will end up being a never ending (and perhaps impossible) job as it will flow just as quickly into my basement as I can pump it out.

Last edited by bubbler; 03-08-2011 at 02:03 PM.
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Old 03-08-2011, 02:54 PM   #2
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sump pump "pit falls"


I'd get that pit in as soon as possible---A pedestal pump is far easier to adjust than a submersible pump

I like them for houses with high water tables--Stay away from the cheap-o plastic ones I find them to be short lived--Rigid (Home Depot) has a nice one---I believe Zohler also makes a good one.

Check with your village---many allow sump discharge to go into the storm sewer.
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:02 PM   #3
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sump pump "pit falls"


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I'd get that pit in as soon as possible---A pedestal pump is far easier to adjust than a submersible pump

I like them for houses with high water tables--Stay away from the cheap-o plastic ones I find them to be short lived--Rigid (Home Depot) has a nice one---I believe Zohler also makes a good one.
My sump is now "dirty" because the basement had saw dust and other debris kicking around it (the house being renovated, so we're even storing about 200sq-ft of scrap hardwood pulled up), I've heard that the pedestal pumps can't handle that which is why I had stayed away (I'm currently using a "dirty water" pump which supposedly can handle larger solids). Although I suppose at this point anything that can remove water is good... any thoughts on how to keep the pump from failing? Maybe I can cover the inlet with some sort of a fabric to keep the debris from getting in?

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Check with your village---many allow sump discharge to go into the storm sewer.
I definite "no" on this one as I understand it, a friend of mine in construction let me know today that there is a Mass. general law which says that you can't "add burden" to the existing storm sewer network... now, if I happen to drape a plastic hose NEAR the storm sewer grate at the end of my driveway, and that discharge happens to find it's way into the grate, then I'm not sure if that's considered to be me adding burden, or just an act of god?
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Old 03-08-2011, 03:41 PM   #4
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sump pump "pit falls"


If you have saw dust and minor crud getting into the pit--I agree--effluence pump is safer--

Do be careful--stones and chunks of wood will jamb the impeller.

I'd get a pump going as soon as you can---even a Rube Goldburg arrangement will get you through the wet season until you can build it properly.--Mike--
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Old 03-08-2011, 09:50 PM   #5
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You may need to babysit the pump for several hours. All during this time keep cleaning solid matter out the pit manually little by little.

Once you get the water under control, dig the pit deeper so the pump has more volume of water to work on before it shuts off.

Have you checked around the house outside to be sure water is not accumulating against the foundation?

A single sump in one corner is not going to protect the other corner from flooding unless you have underground perforated drainage pipes all the way around the foundation. I suggest starting a fad whereby the pit is large and deep enough that when filled just to where the perimeter drain pipes terminating at the pit just start to get covered, there are at least three cubic feet (22 gallons) of water in the pit.

If the sump pump water ends up leaving the front of the property and gets in the storm drains, I would let it do that and ask questions later.
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Old 03-09-2011, 06:24 AM   #6
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You may need to babysit the pump for several hours. All during this time keep cleaning solid matter out the pit manually little by little.
That's what I was doing for a while, but honestly, it's literally letting the pump run for 30 seconds, then wait 30, then run 30... since the water stops rising at about an inch it just doesn't seem worth it.


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Have you checked around the house outside to be sure water is not accumulating against the foundation?
There's nothing specific, but the ground has(had) 2-3' of melting snow, and it was raining on Sunday.

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A single sump in one corner is not going to protect the other corner from flooding unless you have underground perforated drainage pipes all the way around the foundation.
I've got a guy coming today to give me some ideas/options. It seems like the water was coming up out of cracks/etc so this was def. a time when there was a need to artificially lower the water table (or at least pressure) from under the house.

The house was built between 1949 and 1950, I don't know if they even put in gravel under the slab, let alone proper drainage, tiles, etc. From photos and stories from neighbors I know that the yard elevation and street were significantly changed as part of an improvement initiative to allow it to become a 2-way road (it was a 1-way) several decades ago.

My current sump opening is only 15x15, so if I do want to DIY a larger pit I'll need a jack hammer or at least concrete saw to do it. Standard liners seem to be 18" around.

Since we aren't planning to ever finish this space my biggest concern is that the water never rises above the level of the current floor more then an inch or two in the most extreme cases... I think a high volume and properly sized sump would certainly allow for that. Then depending on how often it seems like water ends up in the rest of the space I'll consider retro-fitting a full or partial perimeter drain to that pit.
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Old 03-09-2011, 08:45 AM   #7
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sump pump "pit falls"


Do you know where rainwater on your property and on neighboring properties ultimately goes now and can you figure out where rainwater ultimately went prior to the road improvement project?

Almost all cities prohibit dumping storm water into sanitary sewers but storm drains are intended for storm water. The storm drains on your street should handle (or should have handled) all the storm water that ended up on on that land as of prior to the road improvement project that is now occupied by the street and sidwalks, and/or on land and easements now owned by the city.

Artificially lowering the water table is accomplished using a perimeter drain system and sump pump.

I would prefer a saw to a jackhammer although in some situations one won't work.

Put a circle of bricks, almost touching, around the rim of the pit. You would need to come down and babysit only when the thin openings between the bricks got clogged with lint or sawdust.
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