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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi Everyone,
Last year my finished basement was about wiped out with a very heavy rain. I have a primary and a backup. We had an extremely hard downpour for about a half hour. During this half both pumps were on non-stop and the water kept slowly rising to the point it was starting to spill on to the concrete (in the unfinished room of the basement which is just a small closet). I had to use rags to clean up the water and keep it from going under the carpet. For the most part, the two pumps did a great job.

My question... should I add a 3rd backup pump to the pit? I wouldn't tie it into the drain system in my house like my other one, but send it out back to my field. My concern is what if the power went out... there would be no way for 1 backup have been able to keep up. I'm surprised the power didn't go out... perhaps someone was looking over me. :smile:

Everyone I talk to in person said I'm crazy... it would be a waist of money. I already have a battery... I just need the unit for $170. I rarely rains that hard... probably twice since I've owned the house in 8 years. No doubt the two pumps can handle it... but if the power is out during a hard down pour I don't think one would be able to keep up.
 

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Hi Rick, first the standard recommendations of, eliminate all water issues before they get close to the foundation. You probably know the list, but landscaping if near the top, especially when I hear there is a field out back. I hope is is downhill.

In addition, there is also the below grade landscaping, hard to recognize but it can be more of a problem than surface drainage. Tell us more about that surface first.

Once you get the rain from the roof directed well away from the foundation as well as all surface drainage, then you talk sump pumps. In reality they should sit there and never turn on. If that isn't the case, perhaps they shouldn't have finished the basement, too late I guess.

As for how many and where, that front closet sounds like a good start and if grading isn't possible, one or two in collection basins outside.

Bud
 

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Also check your sump pump drainage. I don't know where it currently drains but if the line is broken near the foundation, you could be just pumping the water back to the foundation. If the line is clogged then the pumps could be spinning and not pumping anything.
Perhaps instead of another pump you could upgrade one of the ones you have to a higher gallons per hour (GPH)model, after you verify the drainage line is correct.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi Rick, first the standard recommendations of, eliminate all water issues before they get close to the foundation. You probably know the list, but landscaping if near the top, especially when I hear there is a field out back. I hope is is downhill.

In addition, there is also the below grade landscaping, hard to recognize but it can be more of a problem than surface drainage. Tell us more about that surface first.

Once you get the rain from the roof directed well away from the foundation as well as all surface drainage, then you talk sump pumps. In reality they should sit there and never turn on. If that isn't the case, perhaps they shouldn't have finished the basement, too late I guess.

As for how many and where, that front closet sounds like a good start and if grading isn't possible, one or two in collection basins outside.

Bud
Thanks, are you sure pumps should never turn on? You worry me that I have a broken pipe somewhere causing excess water into my sump pump lol. The house is only 8 years old, built new attached is a picture. The blue pipe is where my pit is. It sits full of water, even during summer. Doesn't really kick on unless we get a lot of rain. If we get a shower it never kicks on, if we get a steady rain all day it may kick on once an hour. If we get a hard downpour like we did last year it'll run non stop. Keep in mind that downpour was so hard last year that it flooded most of my town. So both pumps don't stay on unless we get hit with a very hard rain. Normally water only comes through the drilled holes in the pit... but when we get a very hard rain it'll come through the pipe going into the pit. I don't know how these function.

My house sits up on a small hill but around my house is flat. I would say it's completely flat going out about 10' from the house in all directions before it slops down a couple feet. Nothing I can do with the front of my house due to the driveway... but on the sides/rear this spring I was going to buy more dirt and build it up a few inches just help a little. I don't like it being completely flat
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Also check your sump pump drainage. I don't know where it currently drains but if the line is broken near the foundation, you could be just pumping the water back to the foundation. If the line is clogged then the pumps could be spinning and not pumping anything.
Perhaps instead of another pump you could upgrade one of the ones you have to a higher gallons per hour (GPH)model, after you verify the drainage line is correct.
Thanks! The backup I have is rated at 3300 GPH... and I know the primary is faster than that.

Having it plugged could have been the problem... not sure. The builder ran the 1.5" pipe through the basement wall horizontally with a slight slope into the main line. Where they had the 1.5" pipe into the main pipe... there was a 1/2 - 3/4" gap all around pipe. Could the water have been coming down so hard on the roof... it filled the main line. Then when the sump pump tried to discharge the pipe was full and it was coming back through the gap filling? Or perhaps the pumps were on and just not shooting much out because the main line was full.

Last year I dug it up and put an elbow on it to raise it above ground like every other house I've seen. Then I put a "Y" on it and ran the main into one and the backup into the other branch. Rather than trying to tie the pumps together in the basement on a single line.

I don't know if that will make a difference... if the pipe gets filled up again, it might just come out the top of the "Y" now... but at least it won't be underground so I'll know.

Do you think I should buy a third one or run the 2nd backup out to the field? It makes me wonder if the backup was running out to the field last year... if it would have kept the pit empty.
 

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As you said you are on a hill do you have enough of your property to dig a ditch from the depth of your footing going down hill to gravity drain the basement? the house should have an exterior perimeter drain if you have wet soils or springs close by? the ditch of course would be back filled after a drain pipe in a gravel bed was installed, this way you wont need any pumps or electric..also above ground a skirt drain should be cut into the front of the house facing uphill, so any rain or runoff from melting snow will be directed away from the house..
 

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I agree with downhill, if you can. I had mentioned the below grade landscaping that we can't see. When you say the water sits in the sump pit all summer it sounds like your house is sitting on what is called impervious soils. Worse, it may be dug into those soils creating an "under the surface" pond. I worked on one like this and we did just as downhill suggested, we dug a trench far enough away that is was a natural gravity drain. Before we put the trench in their block foundation had a water line about 1.5 courses up, the house was sitting in the pond created when they dug the foundation, 50 years ago. We gave it a way to drain and the water was gone.

Are you located where clay or other conditions below could be an issue? Do you have a septic or town sewer?

If you have a frost issue you need a minimum of 6" in the first 6 feet just to compensate for the frost lift.

Bud
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
As you said you are on a hill do you have enough of your property to dig a ditch from the depth of your footing going down hill to gravity drain the basement? the house should have an exterior perimeter drain if you have wet soils or springs close by? the ditch of course would be back filled after a drain pipe in a gravel bed was installed, this way you wont need any pumps or electric..also above ground a skirt drain should be cut into the front of the house facing uphill, so any rain or runoff from melting snow will be directed away from the house..
I don't have enough slope... I really wish I did. I would love to have gravity drain the basement. But from the house to the street... it only slopes down a couple feet. The bottom of the basement is a good 4-5' below the street culvert.
 

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thats a problem.....I would want to know where the water is coming from? if its just rain then deflect it before it gets close to the house, if your in a so called pond area, the house should not have been built with a basement or be built higher above ground...you might look into battery backup pumps with solar chargers for a longer run time than just on the batteries or invest in a engine driven water pump for those " oh $hit times"..
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I agree with downhill, if you can. I had mentioned the below grade landscaping that we can't see. When you say the water sits in the sump pit all summer it sounds like your house is sitting on what is called impervious soils. Worse, it may be dug into those soils creating an "under the surface" pond. I worked on one like this and we did just as downhill suggested, we dug a trench far enough away that is was a natural gravity drain. Before we put the trench in their block foundation had a water line about 1.5 courses up, the house was sitting in the pond created when they dug the foundation, 50 years ago. We gave it a way to drain and the water was gone.

Are you located where clay or other conditions below could be an issue? Do you have a septic or town sewer?

If you have a frost issue you need a minimum of 6" in the first 6 feet just to compensate for the frost lift.

Bud
I wish I could do a gravity type system as you had mentioned... That's what may parents have. I just sit on a very small hill. It slopes down just 2' from the house to the culvert. The back of the property is the same way. My property goes back another 500'... but relatively flat... it all slopes away from the house... just not enough to put a drain in since the basement is 8' underground.

We do have clay soil and slate rock around the foundation. When it rains some water probably moves lateral and into my drain system. We have a septic.. but that's 150' way and 2' downhill.

But it's not honestly to bad and it doesn't really pump a lot of water when it's not raining. The pit sits half way full of water year round but doesn't really cycle on. If we have a cold winter it won't cycle at all... if we have a dry summer it won't cycle. It's only when it rains in the wet springs or falls. I don't feel that it's large enough of a problem to redig the house by any means. :wink2:

Last year when it almost flooded we had one of the wettest springs ever... the ground was already saturated and we got a good 4-5" of rain within an hour. So I was just looking for some added protection.

I'm definitely going to add dirt around the side and rear of my house in the photo I posted above. Just because the dirt/gravel has settled over the years being a new construction. The photo I posted above looks like it has more than enough slope, but now after it has settled it's a lot more flat. It could even be running back a little in spots.
 

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"it all slopes away from the house"
That's good, even though it isn't enough to drain by gravity it suggests that the underground drainage may be away. It is the localized hole/pond your house created that is showing up in your sump pit. Wild guess, 20' away it will be back to its original gentle slope away.

Apparently wherever your pumps are delivering that water is far enough away that it isn't contributing to the water flowing into the sump. That may still be on the TBD list. But, if you dug your current sump pit or a second one much deeper to get below the bottom of that pond, then when it runs you would be catching it sooner and more effectively, especially if you add a second pit.

You are dead on about the settling around the house issue and that's a good place to work on. Remember, what you add will also settle a bit.

In the spring, some test holes around your property might help you identify a low area below grade.

In NJ, sand and great drainage, I installed an 8' deep 4' diameter drain perforated drain tank to catch local water and keep it out of the basement. Expensive solution, but is 35 years he reported it never filled above 2'. In your case you would want that located in a soft spot where it might drain.

Bud
 

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With the type of soil you have (clay and slate/shale) you home is built in the hole that was excavated for the footings. The water will collect around the house until it can seep into the basement somehow.

Some questions:

1). How does the water get into the sump? - Are there perforated tile below the footings/slab that lead to the single sump?

2). Are you trying to discharge the output of 2 pumps through a single 1-1/2" discharge? - That is no much capacity. You should have a check valve just after the pumps, so there is no back flow.

3). Are the gutters with long downspouts to carry the water beyond the "collector hole" that was dug for the foundation.

4). Do you have the floats on the pumps set to drain the sump as much as possible? This will increase the amount of water that can be stored in the soil around the house and minimize the effects of major rain events.

It is difficult to understand how you have so much water in your home on a short term basis. - I had a 75' wide home on a 125' wide lot that was built blocking a stream/drainage since there was tight clay and a drop of 25' from the back elevation (golf course) to the street. - The basement would be wet about 15 minutes after the rain started. I knocked a hole in the block foundation wall at 4' up the water spewed out about 15' into the basement. I put in perforated drain tile at the level of the bottom of the footings and installed a sump and a single sump with a 1-1/2" discharge into a sewer line (allowed there). No water for the ten years I lived there despite some huge thunderstorms that popped the manholes in the streets.

You don't need more pumping capacity, but you do need landscaping and control of roof run-off with long extensions since the soils around your "foundation hole" will not allow much of the rain to be absorbed into the soil.

Dick
 

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Rather than having the expense of dirt brought in I would find a experienced dirt contractor and have a gentle swale formed along the two long sides. The earth from forming the swale would be moved to the house and compacted with an appropriate slope away from the structure.

The drive way water on the upper side must be some how, some way, directed to the two swales.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thanks everyone! Very helpful information and hopefully it leads me in the right direction. Here's a photo of my prints... it has a 4" footer drain. I'm not sure how it works... but there is a single pipe going into my sump pit. I assume this is from the footer drain in the picture? This pipe never has water coming into it. It says bone dry... it only has water coming into it when we get hard flood type rains. The water normally comes in from the drilled holes in the pit itself towards the bottom. The water level usually sits 15" deep, when it gets to 16" the pump kicks on. If someone can explain on the footer and sump pit works that would be great! I'm afraid with water being in the pit all the time that means that water is under my basement all the time, which leads me to think it can sink my house lol. Is the pit below the concrete/gravel fill and it's just collecting water from the soil below my house? Or is the water completely filling up my gravel and is sitting under my slab?

Concretemasonary -

1.) I'm not sure, attached is a picture of my footer drain
2.) I separated them after the hard rain last year, now I have both pumps on seperate 1.5" pipes running into the 4" drain.
3.) Gutters run into the main pipe around my house which flows downhill 100' to discharge into culvert
4.)The pumps drain the pit completely

I hope my problem isn't as extreme as your stream issue. I dug footers for my deck last year and went down 5'... and the hole never filled up with water. The basement never got wet, the pumps really didn't kick on unless we get a hard rain or it's been a very wet winter/spring. Today I drained the pump completely about an hour ago and I only have about 1" of water in it so far. I'm sure it'll fill up to the normal spot given enough time, I may have a high water table and the middle of the pit where it normally stops is the top of the water table. I have a footer drain, but no water comes in through that drain unless a hard rain
 

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We're glad to see you getting a handle on this now. All we can do is try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And hopefully it never rains on your parade like it did in Holt MO in 1947. 12 inches in 42 minutes. Although I've witnessed it rain 3 inches in 12 minutes and sure glad it was only 12 min. because I didn't own a boat.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/eax/?n=holtmorecrain1947
 

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If the water is partway up the pit and stays that way then the water table is at that level on that day. It may stay that way for days or weeks without the pump running. But if the fat drain pipes dumping into the pit are mostly or completely covered then the system is unstable. A sudden storm could bring water up onto the floor at the opposite side of the basement even before the level in the pit rises higher still and turns the pump on.

You should not have water up against the foundation during or after a storm. You should not have a depression or trench around the foundation for mulch or gravel landscaping.

If two sump pumps use the same outlet pipe then each must have a check valve to prevent water from going back down to its respective pit. Such a check valve is desirable even for single pumps.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
If the water is partway up the pit and stays that way then the water table is at that level on that day. It may stay that way for days or weeks without the pump running. But if the fat drain pipes dumping into the pit are mostly or completely covered then the system is unstable. A sudden storm could bring water up onto the floor at the opposite side of the basement even before the level in the pit rises higher still and turns the pump on.

You should not have water up against the foundation during or after a storm. You should not have a depression or trench around the foundation for mulch or gravel landscaping.

If two sump pumps use the same outlet pipe then each must have a check valve to prevent water from going back down to its respective pit. Such a check valve is desirable even for single pumps.
Allan - That's exactly what is happening... Last night I ran the pumps to get all water out. It took a few hours but it slowly raised to the middle of the pit (slightly over the bottom of the pipe coming in it). Then I unplugged all pumps. It has stayed there in the same spot all day now. From the picture I posted, it looks like no water is around my footer (because water would be coming into that pipe correct?) It looks like the pit is below the water table. So the water I have in my pit is just from the water seeping in that's at least 1' under my footer/basement. I'm kind of relieved now... I expected the water level to keep rising. Looks like it only kicks on during rains thanks to my clay soil/slate.

But here's what I've decided to do. Come spring... I'm going to fill around my house and build it up a good 4-5" and slope it away. Some spots I can't do... like under my deck and my driveway. But I can probably get 90% of it.

I've also decided to get the 3rd backup system. Reason is that my current backup is 2000 GPH... the new one is 3300 GPH. I need a better backup system. I also want to run it to my field... rather than hook it up to my main line like my current setup. I feel that during hard flood type rains, it doesn't do much good to pump water into a sewer pipe that's already full. I have 2 options for my current 2000 GPH pump... I can trash it or leave it as another backup. I just decided it would be easier and less expensive to leave my current backup rather than to take all the piping and everything out. I can't find any positives in taking the old backup system out :wink2:I could just set the float so it won't come on til the water is at the very top of the pit.

Hopefully I can see a noticeable difference in the pumping power of the new backup. If it pumps as good as my primary... I probably won't need the old backup system. But I'll probably keep it there just in case. Years down the road if it stops working I'll probably just trash it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
We're glad to see you getting a handle on this now. All we can do is try to prepare for the worst and hope for the best. And hopefully it never rains on your parade like it did in Holt MO in 1947. 12 inches in 42 minutes. Although I've witnessed it rain 3 inches in 12 minutes and sure glad it was only 12 min. because I didn't own a boat.

http://www.srh.noaa.gov/eax/?n=holtmorecrain1947
Yeah I wouldn't want to go through that lol. That's why I'm kind of being safe than sorry. You would be surprised at the amount of people that said I didn't even need one backup. This one backup I have now has saved my basement twice. If it rained long than it did last spring when we had the flood... my basement would have been gone. That's why I'm taking as many steps this spring to build my foundation up and put in stronger pumps. I don't want one of those "What If" Moments after a flood.... "What If I would have put a stronger pump in"... or "What if I would have built my foundation up".

I would rather go over the top to prevent floods than to not do enough. :wink2:
 

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do you have public sewers or a septic system? you dont want to pump all that water into your septic system, you could flood that out and cause bigger problems ................................................................................................................................ "I've also decided to get the 3rd backup system. Reason is that my current backup is 2000 GPH... the new one is 3300 GPH. I need a better backup system. I also want to run it to my field... rather than hook it up to my main line like my current setup. I feel that during hard flood type rains, it doesn't do much good to pump water into a sewer pipe that's already full. I have 2 options for my current 2000 GPH pump... I can trash it or leave it as another backup. I just decided it would be easier and less expensive to leave my current backup rather than to take all the piping and everything out. I can't find any positives in taking the old backup system out I could just set the float so it won't come on til the water is at the very top of the pit."
 
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