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Bpolijr 04-11-2013 02:54 PM

Sump Pump/Water Flow HELP
 
We recently purchased a home that is 10 years old. The previous homeowner has a zoeller m53 installed and also a watchdog battery backup system installed. When my home inspector checked the home, he noted that the homeowner had the float rigged up to allow the entire basin and surrounding tiles to be filled before the pump would kick on. The inspector said you want the pump to cycle when the water in the basin reached the bottom of the tiles. The homeowner changed it.

When we closed on the home and met the homeowner, he said the reason he did that is because the pump cycles so much due to high water table that he was burning thru switches every 6mos to 1year.

Now that we are in the home, I am panicking. For one, Our basement is finished so its a living space, and the constant sound of water flowing like a waterfall into the basin is driving me nuts. The zoeller cycles on/off every minute, around the clock. The pump is very quiet, its the water sound that is driving me crazy. But, I have a few concerns :

1. Will this much cycling cause me to be replacing switches as he said.

2. Is there a way to eliminate the sound of water flowing into the basin?

3. Is it safe to rig the float setup and allow the tiles to fill with water before the pump cycles to eliminate short cycling and prolong the life of the switch?

Im looking for some expert help here. I am in complete panic mode and hope we didnt just make 180,000 dollar mistake. We had no idea the water flowed like this prior to buying the home.

Please any help/advice is much appreciated!

Ghostmaker 04-11-2013 05:41 PM

The object of your sump is to eliminate water before it damages the footers. That means it needs to pump before the pipes have water in them. I would take a hard look around the outside of your house and make sure the earth is sloped away from the house and not towards it. If that isn't the problem then your house is sitting on a natural spring AKA water table and that will result in possible flooding. You may want to consider dropping a second sump pit in and using it as an emergency backup.

bbo 04-11-2013 05:44 PM

my pump seeems to pump a lot in the spring. Where are you located? in the summer it would be rare for it to turn on.

I need to get an alarm and backup on mine.

Daniel Holzman 04-11-2013 06:17 PM

The purpose of your sump pump is to keep water from flooding the basement floor. The footers are typically concrete, and do not care if they are wet. I have set the float on my sump pump so the pump turns on when the water level is approximately 4 inches below my basement slab level. Some people like to set the float so the pump turns on when the water reaches about six inches from the slab. The lower you set the float, the more often the pump runs, which as you have noted leads to the sound of the pump running, water coming into the basin, and the pump only has so many cycles in it before it fails.

The float switch is typically set so the pump turns off while there is at least six inches of water in the basin. This is to prevent running the pump dry, which can damage the pump.

Bpolijr 04-11-2013 07:19 PM

One response saying you shouldn't let the tiles fill up, like my home inspector said, and one saying its no big deal. lol

Fyi- the grade of the ground is sloped away from the house, but as I stated in the original post, the water table is very high. Also, gutter extensions are at least 10ft long. The one thing I am not sure of is how far the discharge pipe from the sump runs away from the home. I will have to call the former homeowner and find out.

bbo 04-11-2013 07:58 PM

here we have to release sump water into storm sewers. not into yards or sanitary drains. I actually prefer this as in the old house, it drained into the back of the back yard. 30 yards away or so, where it would make its way back towards the house eventually.

AllanJ 04-11-2013 09:05 PM

The perimeter drain system works best when there is an air pocket going all the way around the perimeter of the basement. Then water in the soil tends to drip into the air pocket rather than seep up onto the basement floor. Depending on how well the underground pipes are pitched, maintaining the air pocket usually requires turning on the sump pump before the pipe ends as seen in the pit are covered with water.

But you may find that at one turn on level the pump cycles a lot while at a turn on level just two inches higher the pump the pump runs very little. The sweet spot (critical level) changes depending on whether you are in a dry spell or wet spell weather wise.

You can use trial and error to see how much the drainage pipe ends can be submerged before you start to see water seeping up onto the floor at the far side of the basement. If you change the pump turn on level, allow a week of operation before drawing any conclusions on how much improvement you got.

If there is not enough room in the pit for a second sump pump for backup, you can dig a second pit next to it. The two pits should be interconnected with a second 4 inch drain pipe at a level close to the bottom of the shallower of the two.

fetzer85 04-12-2013 12:42 AM

Don't panic! You have homeowners insurance right? Call your insurance company and ask for some details on what happens should your basement flood - after all, that's why you have it.

Now as far as your pump goes you have some options. As others said if it's running that often you must be on an underground spring / high water table. If the sound is bothering you I would elevate the pump to a height where when it turns off the water is just below / nearly level with your french drains. This should solve your sound problem but also keep water from damaging your basement.

I'm glad you're concerned about your new house but like I said, no need to panic. Just do your best to prevent it and be prepared when your preventative measures fall short.

Bpolijr 04-12-2013 12:43 AM

AllanJ,

Thanks for the response. However, my basement is completely finished, so I don't have the option of playing with different turn on levels.

But I do think your answer makes the best sense, as my home inspector said the same thing about not wanting the tiles to be completely filled with water before the pump cycles. By doing this, yes, you do create less cycling of the pump, but I don't want to run the risk of harming anything else.

I think I am going to piggyback a different switch for my zoeller m53 - as I have been reading that although it's a great pump, the switches go bad when used on/off frequently. I found a levelguard electronic piggyback switch that is getting awesome reviews, has a 5 year warranty, and they make claims that this switch will outlast the life of the pump.

http://www.levelguardproducts.com/sump/index.php

Does anyone have any experience with such switches?

Bpolijr 04-12-2013 12:49 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fetzer85 (Post 1157391)
Don't panic! You have homeowners insurance right? Call your insurance company and ask for some details on what happens should your basement flood - after all, that's why you have it.

Now as far as your pump goes you have some options. As others said if it's running that often you must be on an underground spring / high water table. If the sound is bothering you I would elevate the pump to a height where when it turns off the water is just below / nearly level with your french drains. This should solve your sound problem but also keep water from damaging your basement.

I'm glad you're concerned about your new house but like I said, no need to panic. Just do your best to prevent it and be prepared when your preventative measures fall short.

That's the way the old homeowner had it set up, but I had him switch it back for 2 reasons.

1. I was told, and re-affirmed here, that it is a bad idea to allow the tiles to hold water, as they are made to move water, not store water. And, if the tiles are holding water, they aren't allowing additional water to drip into them until they are emptied.

2. Incase of a pump fail, back up fail, act of god, etc - by having the tiles already filled with water, you have VERY little time to act (get generator ready, etc) before the water level reaches the height of the floor and starts flooding my finished basement. Atleast with it set to cycle on when the water reaches the bottom of the tiles, if failure were to happen, I have the buffer of the tiles having to fill completely up with water (200+ feet of tile) before the water in the basin will again begin to rise, and flood my basement.

We did add 20k of coverage, but to be honest, I would rather have a fail safe system in place so I don't have to go thru the stress of all that happening.

PS - fetzer - you sound like my wife. lol "calm down, we have insurance" :thumbup:

fetzer85 04-12-2013 10:41 AM

There is no fail safe system w/ sump pumps, especially with your high water table.

First line of defense requires electric pumps. Power goes out or pump/switch fails and second line of defense is battery powered pumps / you recognizing failure and using utility pump / water powered pump. Battery powered pump will only last so long, you stepping in and saving the day will only happen under the right circumstances, and water powered pumps are questionable and may not even be able to keep up with your required pumping rate.

See what I mean? You can do all you want to try and prevent it but under the right circumstances even the most fail-safe methods will fail. If you're going to put your pump at the bottom of the pit then at least install a water alarm just above where the water normally gets to its highest point with your main pump. This way if you do happen to be home during a pump/switch failure you can take action.

My wife's grandfather has similar water table issues as you do. His doesn't run every minute but I'd say maybe every 10-15min, which is still alot by most peoples standards. Anyways his basement has been finished for around 20yrs and in that time he had pump failure cause damage 3 times. One was minor but two were major and required insurance to fix the damage. If it's going to happen it's going to happen. Oh and tell your wife good thinking. :thumbup:

djlandkpl 04-12-2013 01:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bpolijr
We did add 20k of coverage, but to be honest, I would rather have a fail safe system in place so I don't have to go thru the stress of all that happening.

You should ask specific questions on your coverage. Where I live, you aren't covered for water damage from water tables or frond seepage. The water has to come from a body of water.

Bpolijr 04-12-2013 01:10 PM

Fetzer,

Yes, I do intend to install not only 1 water alarm at tile height, but another just above tile height as well, should both pumps and the first water alarm fail. I completely agree with you that when dealing with this, NOTHING is fail safe - however I am going to do my part to cover as many bases as I can.

No option for a water powered backup, we have well water not city.

Also, we specifically added 20k in "sump pump" coverage.

DidIDoThat 04-12-2013 01:17 PM

Might be a dumb question, but do you have a functioning back flow devise just above the pump ?

fetzer85 04-12-2013 02:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bpolijr (Post 1157744)
Fetzer,

Yes, I do intend to install not only 1 water alarm at tile height, but another just above tile height as well, should both pumps and the first water alarm fail. I completely agree with you that when dealing with this, NOTHING is fail safe - however I am going to do my part to cover as many bases as I can.

No option for a water powered backup, we have well water not city.

Also, we specifically added 20k in "sump pump" coverage.

Sounds like you've got all your bases covered then. I hope you never have to use that insurance! :thumbup:


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