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Old 05-24-2016, 11:03 PM   #1
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Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


We've had no rain for several days, and as my wife was bathing my children at the same time as my daughter was taking a shower, I noticed my sump pump go off twice in a span of 10 minutes which I found very odd. I took the cover off the sump pit and noticed it filling much more quickly than I expected, and the color of the water was not the typical clear water but looked like graywater. When showers and baths were done, sump pit was quiet with a steady water level... no sump activity for hours on end.

This is a 2008 build home - I'm blown away that I have what looks to be a main drain failure of some sort. We're 2nd owners so no warranties. Wondering if there's anything I can do to determine the level of issue and how imminent it is to fix as money is tight and will remain so until daycare bills slow down.

Here is a picture of the main drain just as it exits my basement about 4' above basement floor and about 6' below ground level:

Sump pit filling faster when showers running...-maindrain.jpg

A couple feet to the left of this cleanout is the sump pit. From what I can tell, it only seems to be filling when I'm draining a large volume; slower drains like from handwashing, dishwasher, etc don't appear to make it to the sump pit (or maybe I just don't notice a smaller amount).

I'm thinking that if there is a break it will probably be close to the foundation since it appears drain water appears in the sump very quickly after large drains start ie shower and tub draining simultaneously. Can I remove the pvc cap on this 8yr old cleanout and look inside with a flashlight? I have a waterproof snake-camera that will go a good 10' ... any guesses as to whether I'd be able to see anything?

If the problem is with a breakage or decoupling right outside the foundation, can I roll up my sleeves and dig down 6' to the pipe, maybe a small 4' trench, and resolve the problem myself, or pay a plumber a reasonable sum to fix the section of pipe and then refill the trench? A friend recently had his waste line replaced and was throwing $7k to $12k numbers around which made me want to puke ... but his was a 50yr old clay pipe and needed to be fully replaced. Could I possibly get away with a half day of hand digging and an hour or two of plumber's labor?

Thanks for any help, stressing out about this issue.
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Old 05-25-2016, 03:52 AM   #2
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


You need to get a plumber to run a camera to see why you are getting water from the DWV into the Sump.

If you want to do a quick test to see if it is caused by a problem with the DWV. Pour some liquid dye down the drains for the showers and see if it comes out into the Sump. Make sure that you use different colored dyes and only do one at a time after you flush out the previous dye.



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Old 05-25-2016, 07:05 AM   #3
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Lots of shower water and dish water can corrode the sump pump and shorten its life compared with plain ground water.

The sump pump must not discharge into a septic tank and must not leave a puddle against or near the foundation. This increases the chance that somebody might notice shower water and washing machine water flowing on the surface.

Do you see the gray water flowing down one of the side pipes emptying into the sump pit or does it just rise by itself?
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Old 05-25-2016, 08:30 AM   #4
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


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Do you see the gray water flowing down one of the side pipes emptying into the sump pit or does it just rise by itself?
I do not see anything coming out of the side pipes. I ran the pump until the pit was almost totally empty (keeping the switch on until I heard shlurping noises) and it looked like water was rushing up into the pit from the bottom of the pit.

The side/drain tile pipes only ever seem to have any activity during heavy rainstorms.

My sump pump exhausts to a drainage area several hundred feet away from my home.

I am wondering if it would be a bad idea to take off the cap shown in the image I posted - would I be able to get my arm in there a couple feet and feel around for a break, crack or decoupling? I see a large rubber coupling before I hit wall ... wondering if maybe the other side of that coupling slipped off? What would I see/feel when exploring that waste line cleanout, besides the obvious pleasantries...

I will do the dye test to verify before doing any of this, although gregzoll I am wondering why you suggest using different colored dyes ... don't all roads lead to this waste line? Why would I want to use different colors?

Thanks for the pointers so far.
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Old 05-25-2016, 02:49 PM   #5
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


It does. But you want to see which is the culprit. It could be that it was rigged up for gray water discharge. Especially if you are on Septic.

I would still call in a plumber with a camera to check out the DWV to see if there are any breaks in it as it exits the house.



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Old 05-25-2016, 02:52 PM   #6
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Your main drain snapped where it exits the wall. This is what happens when back filled without taking the time to support the pipe properly. So unscrew that big 4 inch clean out plug and take a look with a bright flashlight.

PS how ever plumbed the house wasn't a good plumber. Love the san tee on its back.

Last edited by Ghostmaker; 05-25-2016 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 05-25-2016, 04:03 PM   #7
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Your main drain snapped where it exits the wall. This is what happens when back filled without taking the time to support the pipe properly. So unscrew that big 4 inch clean out plug and take a look with a bright flashlight.

PS how ever plumbed the house wasn't a good plumber. Love the san tee on its back.
I am a layman yet knew soon after we closed on the house that the plumber that worked on this house was lazy. Saw some ugly work when I replaced a toilet and thought "one day this trade will bite me." I suppose this is that day.

Just googled what you mentioned about the sanitary tee ... nice. In the course of fixing this issue I'll have a competent plumber put in a wye (right?).

I believe this is likely what happened based on all symptoms (low flow makes it to the pipe, high flow goes over the breakage - If so, is a diy or hybrid diy fix out of the question for me? Can I shovel down to where the pipe is severed, enough feet away from foundation so I can lift a portion up, lay in some crushed stone, put back together? Or should I be looking to cancel vacation plans?
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Old 05-25-2016, 04:16 PM   #8
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


First open up the clean out and take a look. If it is what I think it is it's a DIY project to fix. We got an entire board here to help.

Go on vacation it hasn't killed anyone yet! Enjoy yourself then get ready to dig but first we need a look.
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Old 06-09-2016, 07:24 PM   #9
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
First open up the clean out and take a look. If it is what I think it is it's a DIY project to fix. We got an entire board here to help.

Go on vacation it hasn't killed anyone yet! Enjoy yourself then get ready to dig but first we need a look.
Thanks for easing my mind - I called a couple plumbers to see how much it would be for a quick video inspection of my line, I figured I should verify the pipe far downstream is in ok shape.

Prices started at "at least $225" so I thought I would give it a go myself ... purchased a 15' USB endoscope ($25 on Amazon) and today attached it to a snake and went in through the exterior cleanout which is a few feet away from the wall, directly above where the inside basement cleanout:

Sump pit filling faster when showers running...-extcleanout.jpg

Unfortunately, the boroscope was a piece of crap, no pun intended, and I couldn't see anything with it. I used my cellphone and a camera to peer down into the outside cleanout:

Sump pit filling faster when showers running...-inextcleanout.jpg

I saw some water, some TP and other fun things. The water didn't seem to move. I had my wife pull the plug on our upstairs tub, a little movement, but not much. My anxiety went up as I ran test after test, it looks like that exterior cleanout is showing me that very little is actually going past that point.

I think my next move will be to take the pvc cap off on the interior cleanout and feel around. I have some questions:

There is a lot of standing water in the cleanout so does that mean at least part of the pipe is pitched back to the house? Any guesses/advice on a type or size of container I should have at the ready when that cap comes off?

Can I take a big pipe wrench and just unscrew that white cap? Pic of cleanout in first post.

Once I'm done with this adventure, how do I put the cap back? Just screw it back in or should I use tape, or some other kind of sealant/gunk?

Btw the pipe is about 4.5' down from grade. It will be a heck of a dig but I think I'll be able to manage it.

Thanks for any tips and advice, I will wait to hear from those with more experience before opening pandora's cleanout.
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Old 06-09-2016, 07:32 PM   #10
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Your main drain snapped where it exits the wall. This is what happens when back filled without taking the time to support the pipe properly. So unscrew that big 4 inch clean out plug and take a look with a bright flashlight.

PS how ever plumbed the house wasn't a good plumber. Love the san tee on its back.
More than likely, I've seen it numerous times through the years. I get a call to look at a "wet basement wall" around the sewer pipe and it ends up the sewer line is sheared off right outide of the foundation. As mentioned, the sewer lines get pulled downn from settling soil with no support under them, and simply break.

Pulling off the clean-out cover on the inside should tell you instantly if this is the case........
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Old 06-09-2016, 08:30 PM   #11
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Thanks - I'm ready to take the cap off, just a little terrified of what's going to come dumping out. Would like to hear any words of advice before I attempt this.
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Old 06-10-2016, 06:43 AM   #12
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Put a pail under the pipe. It's not as bad as you may think............
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:27 PM   #13
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ghostmaker View Post
Your main drain snapped where it exits the wall. This is what happens when back filled without taking the time to support the pipe properly. So unscrew that big 4 inch clean out plug and take a look with a bright flashlight.

PS how ever plumbed the house wasn't a good plumber. Love the san tee on its back.
Well I finally unscrewed the cleanout - don't know why I waited so long, I've had jars of jelly that were harder to turn.

As Ghostmaker and jomama45 predicted, the pipe is disconnected right at the house:

Sump pit filling faster when showers running...-cleanout.jpg

So that connection is about 5' under grade. What do I do now ... grab my shovel and cancel my gym membership?
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:51 PM   #14
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Looks like you are lucky to find the problem and have an easy fix. Grab that shovel and start digging, reconnect the pipes, put stone under the pipe to support it so it doesn't settle, backfill and have a drink.
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Old 06-10-2016, 09:57 PM   #15
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Re: Sump pit filling faster when showers running...


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Originally Posted by Olcrazy1 View Post
Looks like you are lucky to find the problem and have an easy fix. Grab that shovel and start digging, reconnect the pipes, put stone under the pipe to support it so it doesn't settle, backfill and have a drink.
You make it sound so simple.

How far under the pipe should I dig - 6" good? Then what kind of stone, crusher? Do I reuse that fernco? What about the pipe - it almost looks like it barely reaches the fernco at this point. I imagine I'll need to remove the section leading to the cleanout-T to get the crusher in and tamp the hell out of it, so maybe it would be smart to get a new slightly longer pipe so I can really cram it into that fernco nice and secure?

Looking forward to that drink.
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