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Thread: Sump pit always has lots of water - next step ?

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    Default Sump pit always has lots of water - next step ?

    Hello,

    I have a sump pit (with pump) located at the back corner of my basement which always has water in it and the water level is just shy of the pump activating (and that's about 5 in from overflowing). It turns on about 5 times a day when the water occassionally rises a bit, or some vibration gets the pump to turn on. After emptying, the pump fills right back up. I have a check valve and it's working, and the water empties directly into a municipal drain (not my sewage pipe).
    The pit I have is a bit narrow and I believe shallow.
    My basement flooded once when we had a very very bad storm and the pump that's been there for years broke. Other than that no problems (fingers are always crossed).
    Strangely enough, my neighbor's house (50 ft away) is at about the same height and he doesn't have anywhere near as much water.

    Now I am thinking of putting a second pit in, but the plumber is afraid to dig with such a high water table. He recommends first digging the existing one deeper, put the pump lower to drain out more and get the water level lowered.

    So my questions:
    1) Does the plumber's recommendation make sense. If I have a high water table and dig deeper, the lower pump will run all the time ?
    2) Will a second pit help in this case or will I simply now have two pits that fill almost to the top ?
    3) Is there anything else I can do - I don't believe this has to do with grading since even when there's no rain, the pit's usually full ?
    4) My home is about 15 years old, do I have to worry about my foundation or structural integrity if I have a high water table ?
    5) How can I tell if my pit is shallower than "normal" I know I can put a yardstick in to measure, but I thought a pit is actually deeper and there's actually drain tile there ?

    Thanks very much in advance...

    Jake

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_59 View Post
    ... the plumber is afraid to dig with such a high water table. He recommends first digging the existing one deeper, put the pump lower to drain out more and get the water level lowered.
    I would try that first and see what happens. I have a chambered drain field that acts like your sump. I can pump it out, but then it just fills right back up to a certain level even though a nearby (like your neighbor) D-box stays at a lower level. It is almost impossible to accurately guess what is going on underground, and digging/opening a new hole could easily bring on an undesired result or two!

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    you could try lowering the pump to remove more water.. try this first as it's the easiest and most cost effective thing to do.. watch it for a day and see, after it pumps the water out, how fast it fills back up even when it's not raining...

    usually a sump pit is about the size of a large 10 gallon bucket... put your yard stick down there and see how deep it is before you try to make it deeper...

    do a bit of research before you go digging another hole HAHA...

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    Thanks for the advice... But I'm still worried about one thing:

    If I dig deeper and put a sump pump lower than the water table, won't it run all the time. I can't possibly drain all that water - and would it even be wise to do so ?

    Thanks,

    Jake

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    I am no expert here, but yes, that would be my concern. You might try lowering the level of your switch about an inch and see what happens ... but do not leave it that way if a lower setting causes your pump to start and stop a lot more often.

    If it turns out that you have a fairly constant level no matter how much you pump, a larger diameter sump would let you pump more water each time your pump does cycle, and less often. Then, a larger diameter sump could also make room for a second pump set to come on at a slightly higher level as a backup.

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    Master Plumber master plumber mark's Avatar
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    Talking dig a second pit....Luke

    dig a deeper pit, and a bigger pit...
    as long as you have some decent pumps
    it wont matter that much

    install a Zoeller sump pump and
    possily a back up pump.....

    digging a second deep sump pit with water comming in
    can be a true manhood contest...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_59 View Post
    Thanks for the advice... But I'm still worried about one thing:

    If I dig deeper and put a sump pump lower than the water table, won't it run all the time. I can't possibly drain all that water - and would it even be wise to do so ?

    Thanks,

    Jake
    i was merely suggesting a temporary lowering of the pump that you have ... to see if it'll pump the water lower and will the water STAY lower... if it doesn't than a larger diameter pit would help, with a backup pump etc. as was recommended.

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    DIY Senior Member Runs with bison's Avatar
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    I looked at a house about a year and a half ago with a similar sump arrangement and a potentially much larger problem. It was raining lightly and I kept hearing the pump kick on every minute or two. That was a bad sign. I noticed that there was a pond about 100 feet away on adjacent property above the level of the basement floor. I didn't want anything to do with that house after that.

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    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    Water tables are funny things, so 50' could be quite different...just depends on maybe a layer of clay or something like some rock formations.

    In the home I grew up in, the water table was fairly high, and the pump ran fairly frequently most of the year. It was a problem, if the power went off, as the water level in the basement could easily get 6" deep all over on an extended power outage if we didn't hook up a generator. A battery operated pump would have needed a major battery bank to run long enough.

    If the water table is that high, you'll likely never lower it substantially so bigger/deeper may not make much difference.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

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    Thankfully my water table is not that high - if I turn off the sump pump, the water level doesn't get higher than about 6" below the top of the sump pit. Though I would have preferred much less.

    I have a FloTec pump which replaced the broken Zoeller when we had a really bad storm and gave out. Before you all tell me how it's not a good device, it wasn't a choice. None of the plumbers I called had anything and I got lucky to find to even find this at Home Depot.
    It's a float pump and I don't think I can lower the level at which it activates.
    I tried putting a 2liter coke bottle to artificially raise the water but that's still not enough to activate it (another bottle won't fit without hitting the float).

    Any other way to try this without actually digging anymore ?

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_59 View Post
    Thankfully my water table is not that high - if I turn off the sump pump, the water level doesn't get higher than about 6" below the top of the sump pit.
    As long as your pump can keep your sump from overflowing, I would say everything is fine as-is unless you decide to make the sump bigger in diameter in order to accomodate a second pump.

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    Talked to the plumber and he's against making it wider. He believes I should only make it deeper and put a backup on top.

    My pit is about 14" in diameter, which I thought is too narrow. Also I figured if I did go deeper, a wider one would let more water fill up and reduce the number of times the pump cycles.

    My thinking now is to based on what everyone's said:
    1) Abandon the idea of the second pump (for now)
    2) Go about 2" deeper and 5" wider on the existing one
    3) Put a Zoeller pump as the primary and leave the FloTec as the back up a bit higher.

    Or would the plumber have a good reason not to want to go wider ?

    I'd like to thank everyone for their input. I plan on making a decision with the last responses to this post.

    Best Regards,

    Jake

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    DIY scratch-pad engineer leejosepho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_59 View Post
    Talked to the plumber and he's against making it wider. He believes I should only make it deeper and put a backup on top.
    14” diameter = 154 sq. in. = .66 gallons per inch of depth
    19” diameter = 284 sq. in. = 1.23 gallons per inch of depth

    Going 2" deeper will only add about 1.25 gallons to the capacity of your sump.
    Going from 14" to 19" in diameter nearly doubles the capacity of your sump ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_59 View Post
    I figured ... a wider one would let more water fill up and reduce the number of times the pump cycles.
    Exactly!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jake_59 View Post
    Or would the plumber have a good reason not to want to go wider?
    More work for him and a higher bill for you to pay ... and that leaves it up to you to weight that increase in a one-time expense against the projected life of a costly pump starting up twice as often in the smaller-diameter sump.

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