View Full Version : Sump and drainage problems

06-01-2011, 05:10 PM
Dealing with drainage issues has been an ongoing saga since I moved into my new home just over 4 years ago. I have been researching battery operated sump pumps for backup as my first sump burnt out after 2 years and now I worry about the replacement. I am wondering if lift and distance to the discharge have any relationship to the short life of the pump. Right now there is 8' lift and then the discharge pipe runs along just under the main floor bedrooms to the outside of the house - a distance of approx. 32'. Does this distance mean that the pump has to work extra hard?........and could it be re-routed to lessen the distance and therefore the wear and tear on the pump? The pump runs a LOT (I haven't actually timed it). The noise it creates when running under the bedroom floors is so bad that my son sleeps outdoors in a tent when he visits, while I just lie awake worrying and trying to figure out my next step in dealing with the "swamp". I really don't know anything about these things except that water runs downhill and I am on the bottom of the hill! Any suggestions and advice are welcome. Thanks........liz

06-01-2011, 05:26 PM
Hi Liz,
That lift and distance should not be a problem as it is quite typical for a sump pump and within the design of most of them.

I suspect that your pump is starting too many times per hour and that is what kills the motor. Each start puts a lot of heat into the motor windings with the higher starting currents.

Improvements that may help are adjusting the float switch for maximum run times, a larger capacity sump pit so it takes longer to fill and longer to pump out, and or, installing an alternating duplex pumping system where 2 pumps take turns and you have a back up.

There are also some quiet check valves available that will cut back on the hammering sound when the pump shuts off.

You may find these helpful I wrote them to avoid repeating myself often in forums...
Why Does My Sump Pump Runs Constantly? (http://411plumb.com/why-my-sump-pump-runs-constantly)

Duplex Sump Pumps For A Dry Basement (http://411plumb.com/duplex-sump-pumps-for-a-dry-basement)

Eliminate Check Valve Noise From Your Sump Or Sewage Ejector Pump (http://411plumb.com/the-sounds-of-silence)

Any questions post back here... I'll be around...

06-01-2011, 07:47 PM
Thanks for your quick reply, Redwood. I have printed off the 3 articles you suggested and will check out your advice - easiest first! I also checked out the backup pumps you recommend and must confess I was shocked by the cost (relative to the one I was considering at our local hardware store) even if I could order one from the US. I definitely need one for peace of mind, if nothing else.
I love your quote.........I am really dumb about plumbing and wiring and have yet to find either a plumber or electrician in my area that I have great confidence in. .......liz

06-01-2011, 07:54 PM
Well I do like them because they are good.

Not all pumps are and they can be costly...

06-11-2011, 04:22 PM
OK - 10 days later. I read through your articles about sump pump issues, etc. and as a result this is what happened. I checked the level of water - almost to the bottom of pit. Unplugged the sump pump and prepared to sit and watch. Nothing much happened so I left it unplugged and checked on it twice a day (or more often if I thought of it). Decided you were probably right about adjusting the switch to go on when water reaches a higher level but couldn't figure out how to do this as the float (ball) is firmly connected to the pump and can only be lifted about 6" above it. Can't lift the pump without cutting / removing vertical discharge pipe and that seemed beyond my talents. So I watched and waited some more. Today I checked again - the water level in the pit was only about I/2 way after almost 10 days with lots of rain when I would normally expect to be driven crazy with this stupid thing cycling on & off almost constantly. What this tells me is that the problem is with the pump installation (switch ) rather than the drainage outside the house. Certainly looks like a LOT more water could go into that pit before any threat of overflow. It has been amazingly peaceful here since I unplugged the sump pump and I confess I am tempted to leave it unplugged and just check on it regularly and plug it in when I think it is needed. There is nothing in the instructions that came with the pump about adjusting the switch level and since I am not prepared to start removing/cutting pipes, I guess I'd better call a plumber. Please let me know if I'm on the right track here and thanks so much for your help. BTW - I have dug a lot of ditches here to improve the drainage outside but have never had water in the basement!............LizH

06-11-2011, 09:57 PM
Liz, a lot of pumps do not have an adjustable switch. You still have the option of installing an adjustable switch. I have done this on my own pumps. I have had good luck with the SJE Rhombus Verticalmaster switch.

06-16-2011, 08:40 AM
BTW - I have dug a lot of ditches here to improve the drainage outside but have never had water in the basement!.........

I don't have a sump pump, but I have had lots of backyard flooding over the years--giant pools of water that swamped the back yard, and the abutting yards of my neighbors. What worked for me was to put a rain garden with a rock sump in my yard. I first calculated just how much water was accumulating. It was a couple of thousand gallons; rain barrels would be zero help here. I ended up with a hole four feet deep, roughly 10 feet across. Once it was filled with river rock, I figure it soaked up 1400 gallons or so. In practice, that is just enough to show a bit of puddling in the yard during heavy rains. A bit later, and things are dry on the surface once more. By contrast, my neighbors attempt to trench their way out of the problem. Scant help. The few hundred gallons that a trench can hold are a just a drop in the bucket (and folks tend to overestimate the carrying capacity of trenches anyway). After a storm, they live with swampy back yards for days.

Detailed plans for rain gardens are available at the web site of Maplewood, Minnesota. They show municipal-sponsored parkway rain gardens that tie into the storm sewer system, but that is not necessary. Rain gardens work fine standalone as buffers, and do well as gardens, too.

Hope this helps.

06-16-2011, 07:45 PM
The switches that are just a tethered float on a wire rely on the length of wire and the depth the pump is set at to control the on and off levels. There is a clamp on the wire that can be loosened and the length of wire increased or decreased. Shortening the wire will cause the pump to come on sooner and shut off sooner. Lengthening the wire may cause the float to catch on the side of the sump pit and flood the basement.

Also, one or two large hose clamps can be placed on the float and their position adjusted to modify the cut-in and cut-out levels.