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Old 05-20-2012, 03:02 PM   #1
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Sump pump or wall?


I am not very familiar with sump pumps, but I just bought a rental house that has one. The basement is leaking slightly. How do I know if the problem is the old sump pump or a crack in the floor or wall?

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Old 05-20-2012, 04:14 PM   #2
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Sump pump or wall?


Look in the sump pit and see if there are several 3-4" pipes running into it and see if water is coming from there. This is usually a sign of water around or under the foundation.

If there are no large holes look for a number of 1/2" + or - holes and there is a sign of water entering. This also indicates the water is also coming from the soil in a localized area.

If you have one of the cheap systems with a trench between the slab and wall of plastic coving, that usually indicates water coming through the wall ot from the joint between the wall and footing. The solution would usually be correcting the outdoor drainage and/or the exterior waterproofing of the basement wall.

These are just some general situations, but when it comes to water, everything is possible since it can move down, horizontally or even be drawn up due to capillary action or hydrostatic pressure.

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Old 05-20-2012, 04:17 PM   #3
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Sump pump or wall?


If there is water coming in through the wall, and the sump is running, then that means that the water table is high at this moment. Rentals, especially when they are old homes, are band-aided so much, that they are on their last legs usually, and would not take much to push them over.
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:38 PM   #4
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Sump pump or wall?


The water in the sump pit is a muddy brownish color so it will be hard to see anything down there. The pump turns on about every hour or so and I hear water sloshing through a large PVC pipe that runs outside to the sewer. I just do not know if the sump pump is doing its job frequently enough or in sufficient quantity.

To be honest I do not know how a sump pump works. I just know I have a small layer of water on my basement floor that is enough to get the bottom of my shoes wet. We put some hydraulic cement on some cracks, but I donít know if those cracks were enough to cause the water problem.

Is there some test for sump pumps? How do you all know when there is a problem with the basement walls or the pump is not doing what it supposed to do?
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Old 05-20-2012, 06:54 PM   #5
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Sump pump or wall?


If this is a rental, why are you not telling the agency that protects renters in your area, that the landlord is not maintaining a sound structure. It is okay to repair the structure if you own it, but as a renter, the landlord or the corporation that owns the structure should be taking care of the maintenance.

As for the sump, first thing, it should never be draining into the waster sewer. It should be draining out in the yard, or into the storm gutter on the street. As for how it works, it is a pump, it lifts water out of the structure to be expelled. If it is running once a hour, that means that the water table is very low at the moment, and the pump is doing what it should. If the water comes up over the well, and starts covering the floor, then you have a problem.
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Old 05-20-2012, 08:35 PM   #6
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Sump pump or wall?


Greg, this is a rental property I own, and I am in the process of getting it ready to have tenants. So if the sump well is overflowing I know I can blame the problem on the sump pump, but if I just have a coating of water on the floor it could be a crack in the wall or floor and the sump pump is NOT at fault? I want to be sure I understand.

Why canít the sump drain into the sewer?

Thank you for your help.
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Old 05-20-2012, 09:02 PM   #7
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Sump pump or wall?


Cossack -

Most places allow pumping outside to the yard and some allow pumping to the curb and then draining into a storm water line.

A few allow pumping into the sanitary sewer line, except for some areas where the storm sewer and sanitary sewers are a part of a combined system. This is usually in an older area where the cost and disruption to create a new additional parallel system is not practical.

Your city can tell you what is allowed locally.
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Old 05-21-2012, 06:58 AM   #8
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Sump pump or wall?


Only way to address water coming in from outside, through the wall, is to dig down around the foundation, and redo the coating and the drain tile. The water should not be muddy that is coming into the sump well. If it is, that means that the system has failed.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:37 AM   #9
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Sump pump or wall?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Cossack View Post
So if the sump well is overflowing I know I can blame the problem on the sump pump, but if I just have a coating of water on the floor it could be a crack in the wall or floor and the sump pump is NOT at fault? I want to be sure I understand.
If your sump is not overflowing, then the water on the floor did not come from it and I would say it's not the sump or sump pump's fault. The water arrived from elsewhere.

Hydraulic pressure is strong... if your water table is high enough to push water up through the floors, then you may need to add drainage under the slab to relieve that pressure into the sump pit where it would be pumped out (hopefully faster than it arrives).

If the water is coming in cracks from the wall--is the wall ever wet? Is there staining and efflorescence to indicate that water is coming in? Then you may be able to solve the issue by either grading outside, or by digging in specific areas to fill cracks on the exterior. BTW, fixing cracks at the surface on the inside does not seem logical to me... if water is getting to that point, then by sealing that last 1/8" all you are doing it allowing the water to build up in the wall, or sit there... either way it's not a great situation. Better to get as much water away from the exterior as possible, and to fix cracks on the exterior (or use a professional crack remediation company that can inject epoxy to fill more of the crack.

Edit:
One other thing... all the rental houses/apartments I've been in where I had access to the basement had basements that got wet with either a thin (1/8") coating or water, or just a visibly damp floor. Unless this is a finished area, I'd say that having a wet basement in a rental is fairly normal. Considering your self-admitted level of understanding regarding sump pumps, you might want to have a few local companies come in to give their advice, ideas and estimates for remediation.
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Last edited by bubbler; 05-21-2012 at 07:41 AM.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:45 AM   #10
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Sump pump or wall?


Quote:
Originally Posted by bubbler View Post
Edit:
One other thing... all the rental houses/apartments I've been in where I had access to the basement had basements that got wet with either a thin (1/8") coating or water, or just a visibly damp floor. Unless this is a finished area, I'd say that having a wet basement in a rental is fairly normal. Considering your self-admitted level of understanding regarding sump pumps, you might want to have a few local companies come in to give their advice, ideas and estimates for remediation.
The bad thing about standing water, is that it can breed mold & mildew, along with creating a nasty situation when standing in it, when someone goes to plug something in.
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Old 05-21-2012, 07:56 AM   #11
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Sump pump or wall?


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The bad thing about standing water, is that it can breed mold & mildew, along with creating a nasty situation when standing in it, when someone goes to plug something in.
Yeah, I didn't mean it was a good thing... but it was accepted as being the way it is with the rental. In the one that had the small amounts of standing water the landlord placed pallets (maybe they were pressure treated, I don't know) around the basement, it kept the laundry machines off the ground and gave you a surface to walk on as well as a place to store some items.

The water wasn't constant, it was mostly after rain storms, and never exceeded the 1/4" which was mostly due to puddling because the floor was horribly uneven (1800s house)

My house that I bought was getting water. It cost me $3500 to put in a 27' foot long french drain on the inside leading to a sump pit with dual pumps. Just this past weekend I spent a combination of 12 hours standing in 3' deep trench I dug to seal up some known holes/cracks in the block wall. I wouldn't tolerate it in something I owed, whether I lived there or rented it out to someone else... but when you are renting, sometimes you say "eh, it's OK".

Another rental we had was a virtual swimming pool down there... but we were on the 2nd floor and had nothing in the basement, not even a fuse box... the one time I went down there it was ankle deep... I called the LL thinking it was something urgent, he said "Oh yeah, that's no problem, it'll dry out"
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Old 05-21-2012, 08:28 AM   #12
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Sump pump or wall?


How far away is the sump pump pit from the area of the basement floor that is wet?

A complete drainage system has a nearly horizontal perforated pipe, 3 to 4 inches in size, under the floor all the way around and just insider or just outside the foundation with the ends dumping into the pit. Without this drainage pipe the ground water level outside at the far side of the basement could well be above floor level resulting in flooding at the same time the pit is far from overflowing.

Also, during and after a heavy rainstorm, water should not be pooling up against the side of the house. The land needs to be sheltered or regraded to prevent this.
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Old 05-21-2012, 12:33 PM   #13
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Sump pump or wall?


bubbler, I use two pallets to keep our suitcases & some other stuff of of the floor on the side that we store stuff, everything else on shelving. We have not had any water in our basement, but when we get heavy rains, the edges that where they filled with concrete, you do see some wetness along the wall. Only place that I have ever gotten water in the basement, is the corner that has sunk, and that was fixed by using flexible downspout extenders.

As for the OP, they are best to address the issues at hand by bringing someone in, but is the costs going to outweigh the asset (ie structure).
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Old 05-21-2012, 05:52 PM   #14
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Sump pump or wall?


I just read about Sani-Tred which is a strong sealer applied to the interior basement walls and/or floor. Have any of you ever used it? What is your opinon? Here is the site http://www.sanitred.com/

Thanks for the continued help.

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