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Old 04-11-2012, 05:15 PM   #1
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Bottom line up front: What's 'worse' - a pump that runs nearly non-stop, every 15-30 seconds, for months on end or 'holding' a bunch of standing water in my basin (and presumably around the house/foundation - wherever the source of water is)? As I type this, I have my float set to trigger the pump if the water level reaches another few inches in depth, and a water alarm about an inch above that level.


Background info:

Seems since november, my sump pump runs every 15 seconds as water POURS in from the black plastic flexible piping (which name escapes me right now) that comes out of the wall of the pit and heads up under the floor. Lately the pump has reduced to about twice per minute. I have no check-valve installed; the water runs up about 8-9 feet vertical, across the house and downhill and out about 130 feet to the ditch.

On a hunch I unplugged the pump today. I let the water fill the basin. As the water got to about half-way level of the mouth (diameter) of the pipe, the influx of water stopped. The water level is about 18" below the top of the basin (which, of course, is at the level of my basement floor). That bit make sense?

Should I trust it? Should I invest $$$ in trying to figure out the source of my little river (the nickname we've given the stream of water pouring into the pit).

What other info do you need to give advice? I've 'searched' like a GOOD noob, but whatever words I used didn't give me info-enough to prevent cluttering the forum with ANOTHER newbie sump-pump question.

My family moved to this house in September, didn't notice a stream of water when we moved in; only noticed it a couple/few months later. New to the whole 'needing a sump pump' thing.

Thanks folks.

-dmp

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Old 04-11-2012, 06:23 PM   #2
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Update: Went back down to the basin. As my water treatment (reverse osmosis, etc) empties into the basin, the water level was now over the entire mouth of the 4" pipe, but stable. When I ran the pump, and the level dropped below that of the pipe, HOLY Cannelloni the water RUSHED out of the pipe with a lot of volume. In fact, the primary pump was having trouble keeping up, so I plugged up my aux pump (which feeds to the back pond). I'm scared of essentially HOLDING a lot of water around the house; am I risking stuff keeping that much water out of my sump?


Last edited by dmp; 04-11-2012 at 06:27 PM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:24 PM   #3
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Need to figure out why it's coming in, not taking time trying to get it out.
You also have to have a check valve on that line, if not every time the pump shuts off the water just runs back into the sump causing the pump to turn right back on.

You need to be looking at your gutters to make sure there working and the down spouts are far enough away from the house.
Grade has to slope away from the house.
No mulch or flower beds up againt the foundation forming a pond to hold water.
May need a french drain.
A second sump pump in cause that one fails.
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Old 04-11-2012, 07:32 PM   #4
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


I am a bit confused. You stated that when you shut the pump off, the water rises to about 12 inches below the top of the basin, which you stated was at the level of the floor of your basement. I don't understand why you set the float to keep the water so low.

Groundwater does no damage to the foundation of your house, assuming you have a concrete foundation, or concrete block. The only reason you run the sump pump is to keep water from flooding the basement floor, there is no reason at all to keep your foundation dry. I set my float so the pump turns on when the water level gets to within four inches of the basement slab, which it does typically a couple of days a year. The rest of the time, there may be water in the sump pit, but since it is below the slab level, I don't worry about it.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:19 PM   #5
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


When the black plastic 4 inch pipes (perimeter drain; French drain pipes) emptyhing into the sump pump pit (sump) get submerged then water accumulates in those pipes and those pipes stop functioning. The soil all the way around the basement perimeter resaturates and water seeping up onto the basement floor can recur at the far side of the basement from the pit.

The sump pump should come on before the perimeter drain pipe ends as seen in the pit get significantly covered by the water level. This preserves the air pocket all the way around the foundation inside the perimeter drain pipes needed for the soil to desaturate into.

When you let the water level in the pit cover the drain pipe ends then lots of water will always gush from the drain pipes when the pump finally comes on.

A larger pit will cut down on the number of pump on and off cycles. My own suggestion is to have about 25 gallons (about 3 cubic feet) of pit volume below the drain pipe ends and not occupied by rocks or gravel.

It is not good to dump brine from a water softener or suds from a washing machine into the perimeter drain system or sump pump pit. This can corrode the pump insides and shorten its life.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 04-11-2012 at 08:39 PM.
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:31 PM   #6
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Quote:
Originally Posted by joecaption View Post
Need to figure out why it's coming in, not taking time trying to get it out.
You also have to have a check valve on that line, if not every time the pump shuts off the water just runs back into the sump causing the pump to turn right back on.

You need to be looking at your gutters to make sure there working and the down spouts are far enough away from the house.
Grade has to slope away from the house.
No mulch or flower beds up againt the foundation forming a pond to hold water.
May need a french drain.
A second sump pump in cause that one fails.

I've uploaded a photo - is the red-dot next to a check-valve? The gutters are in need of a cleaning. Some are routed exactly straight into the ground, others run to outlets around the house, pointing away from the house. Grade slopes nicely away from the house. As the pic shows, we have two pumps; one drains to our back yard pond - the other to the front ditch.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Holzman View Post
I am a bit confused. You stated that when you shut the pump off, the water rises to about 12 inches below the top of the basin, which you stated was at the level of the floor of your basement. I don't understand why you set the float to keep the water so low.

Groundwater does no damage to the foundation of your house, assuming you have a concrete foundation, or concrete block. The only reason you run the sump pump is to keep water from flooding the basement floor, there is no reason at all to keep your foundation dry. I set my float so the pump turns on when the water level gets to within four inches of the basement slab, which it does typically a couple of days a year. The rest of the time, there may be water in the sump pit, but since it is below the slab level, I don't worry about it.
The pic might help - the basin seems pretty deep. What you're saying is, the sump should be fine with a full basin - or basin about 10-12" below the level of the basement floor?

Below is a video I took of the full basin and no apparent water-flow into it. I let the basin fill, took a vid, and while filming, I ran the pump. Last time, the basin sat for about 20 minutes - that prompted my second reply about the LARGE volume of water dropping into the basin. This time, the water fell into the basin at the approximate rate it fell when I was running the pump every 15-30 seconds.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LzYakIXyrqE

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ
When the black plastic 4 inch pipes (perimeter drain; French drain pipes) emptyhing into the sump pump pit get submerged then the perimeter drain stops functioning. The soil all the way around the basement perimeter resaturates and water seeping up onto the basement floor can recur.

The sump pump has to come on before the perimeter drain pipe ends as seen in the pit get significantly covered by the water level. This preserves the air pocket all the way around the foundation in the perimeter drain pipes needed for the soil to desaturate into.
Your reply came in as I was typing this; based on what you wrote, I went down and re-set the pump(s) to fire when the water gets to about 1" below the drain. Thank you!
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Old 04-11-2012, 08:55 PM   #7
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Quote:
I have no check-valve installed; the water runs up about 8-9 feet vertical, across the house and downhill and out about 130 feet to the ditch
I read somewhere about when you have a long pipe that it should have a vent,I think there was just a hole dilled into the pipe somewhere along the run.
Does anyone know about this?
130 foot run seems like a lot of weight for a small pump to push water.
I second the check valve.
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:20 PM   #8
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


At least you know the pump is doing its job, but I agree with Daniel about setting the float higher. The water just needs to find its level and from what you've said it sounds like that level is just below the rim.
I wasn't so lucky. My pump was constantly running and when the power went out the basement flooded.

If you have any fall from the foundation to the lowest ditch, you should get someone with a scope to see if the pitch is enough for a t-in and let gravity take it all away.
In my case the builder had actually installed one, but it was covered over with muck and sod. The actual sump pit/pump was meant more for a back up.
Once that mess was cleaned out in two minutes, the ever running pump came to an abrupt halt..The water has found its level and in the ditch is a perpetually running stream, even in minus twenty it doesn't stop, but the pump hasn't gone off since.

I hope you find a satisfactory solution
Good luck. I hope you get the same result
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Old 04-11-2012, 10:36 PM   #9
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Man that was a lot of flow,kinda like a toilet flushing then it stoped as quick as it began.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:02 AM   #10
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


I have to disagree with Allan on this one. The perimeter drain lines (the black plastic) work because the water level in the pipes is higher than the water level in the sump, therefore the water in the pipes drains toward the sump. The lines will work fine if they are dry, half full of water, or completely full of water. They also work fine if they are flat, the lines require no pitch to work. The only factor driving the water is the relative elevation of the water level in the pipes versus the sump.

If you raise the float level so the pump comes on when the water level in the sump is about 4-6 inches below the basement slab, the sump pump will run much less frequently, maybe only a few times a year. Yes you will have saturated soil underneath your concrete slab, meaning that moisture can wick up through the slab, giving you a damp slab feeling, but its a basement, and this should not be a problem unless you are using the basement as living space. If you have a polyethylene barrier under the slab, you will get very little moisture wicking up through the slab.

As to where you pump the water, if you are pumping out to a pond which is close to the house, and is connected to the groundwater (likely), you are simply recirculating water (sump - pond - groundwater - sump), and you will never lower the water table. Pumping to the ditch, assuming the ditch carries the water away from your house, is a much better plan.
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Old 04-12-2012, 08:40 AM   #11
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Thanks, everyone. The ditch set up here is pretty sorry. Basically, all winter I've had a 'front pond' as the rain water and pump water collected into a nasty algae-filled puddle, 150 feet long and a foot wide. Going to call the city/county about that soon.

So - I'm reading two schools of thought; first - I should not leave the water under/around my foundation full of water. The second - it might not be so bad. Does anyone know if the red-dot in the image is near, as I suspect, a check valve? Is that the piece inline w/ the pipe?
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Old 04-12-2012, 09:08 AM   #12
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Looks like a check valve to me.

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Old 04-12-2012, 12:25 PM   #13
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Quote:
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I read somewhere about when you have a long pipe that it should have a vent,I think there was just a hole dilled into the pipe somewhere along the run.
Does anyone know about this?.
A small hole (say, 1/8 inch) drilled in the outlet line above the sump pump and below the check valve may be needed for the pump to get going pumping water.

The hole will squirt out water which goes back (should go back with the help of a baffle plate) into the pit and have to be repumped but this inefficiency is preferable to unreliable starts.

Without the hole, air occupying the outlet line and the inside of the pump is trapped and can keep the pump from drawing up water far enough for the pump impeller to engage. After the water is engaged, it along with any air still in the outlet pipe will force the check valve open against the weight of water still in the outlet line and trying to fall back into the pit since the pump last stopped.

The need for this hole is a separate topic from the setting of the float levels.
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Old 04-12-2012, 05:13 PM   #14
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenworks View Post
I read somewhere about when you have a long pipe that it should have a vent,I think there was just a hole dilled into the pipe somewhere along the run.
Does anyone know about this?
130 foot run seems like a lot of weight for a small pump to push water.
I second the check valve.
An air gap would be the proper term. The smaller line from the sump pump should dump into a larger tile to drain the water away by gravity. You don't want to have to pump the water all that distance, you will have reduced output capacity and it will kill your pumps quickly, or if it is a downhill run it will create a siphon that will suck the water out of the pit every time the pump runs. The gurgling when it pulls all the water out of the pit and loses suction can be extremely noisy and really get obnoxious.

I have a 3 inch pvc line buried across my yard to the storm sewer. My yard is almost flat so the PVC is just barely below ground up by the house and about 14 inches deep 70 feet away at the storm sewer intake. I have a short standpipe next to the house and the 1.5" PVC from my pump is just inserted a few inches into the standpipe. It will handle a massive amount of water, the pump running non stop plus water from 2 garden hoses will still not back it up.

You want to make sure your check valve works, if it doesn't each time the pump shuts off all the water can siphon back out of the line into the pit. Depending on your setup that can be enough water to raise the level in the pit and cause the pump to kick right back on. It will do this rapid cycling over and over making it seem like the pump is struggling to keep up. In reality it is just pumping the same water over and over; never actually discharging the full amount.

As long as the water level is a few inches below the basement floor you are good. You do not need to try to keep it clear to the bottom of the pit. In areas with a high water table that may be almost impossible. I live in one of those areas, I have the level set so my drain tiles remain submerged. If I set the level any lower I have to listen to the water running out of the drain tiles and splashing into the pit. My pump kicks on when the level is about 6 inches below the basement floor.
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Old 04-12-2012, 07:42 PM   #15
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water level equalizing in sump pump basin?


Air gap is actually a term used in conjunction with separating drainage from potable water systems.

The terminology for what happens to the water in the pipe that prevents the pump from starting without the hole is an "air-lock".

I'm not sure what they call that hole, but i'd call it an air bleeder.


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