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Thread: sump pump and smelly water...

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member rbico's Avatar
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    Default sump pump and smelly water...

    We have a sump hole in our backyard that has a 1/3hp pump in it which works to pump out groundwater from our backyard. the water coming from it stinks.

    HISTORY:
    The deal is that when the street of houses behind us was developed back in the 60's, there were no drainage codes and so there are no catch basins or lines for rain water to go. With that in mind, our backyard is sunken and backs up to severeal of these houses and therefor we collect the rainwater/groundwater for about 5-8 houses that are behind us. Apparently the guy who owned our house before us bought in 1960 and had no problems for about 10 yearws, then one day his backyard (now ours) started flooding and consequentially flooding the basement. He tried lots of things to divert the water, but the only thing that worked was this sump hole rig. The hole is in the back of the yard; is about 3' deep and the pump feeds a 1.5" PVC pipe that travels underground for about 100' and daylights in the front yard at the top of our cul-de-sac, which is about 10' higher than our sunken backyard. The pump kicks on about twenty times a day (in the rainy season) and pumps the water to the front, where the water bubbles to the surface and flows by gravity down the hill to a catch basin at the bottom.

    PROBLEM:
    The water bubbling to the surface stinks like hell!!! Like a cross between sewage and a really funny organic compost pile. like the slimy funk of leaves that gets pulled from a rain gutter. We noticed the smell when we moved in about 5 years ago and our new neighbors, some of whom had been there since the neighborhood was developed in the 50's, said that it had always smelled that way. One of our neighbors had the water checked for fecal colifum when they moved in 25 years earlier and it the test showed that it was clean. When we moved in we had the county check it and they did twice and they told us it was perfectly clean. But it stinks and when it's flowing, people walking by give the water funny looks and stare at it like "what the hell?". It is really obnoxious. harmless, apparently, but obnoxious.

    QUESTION:
    Is there anything I can do to get rid of the smell, or at least minimize it? A chemical dispersed throguh a drip system or something? The hole in the backyard sometimes stinks. I have cleaned it out, not with chemicals, but to where the water is perfectly clear; but it still stinks a day later. I have, in desperation, added a 1/4 cup of pine sol in the hole and that works for about a day.

    I recently repaired the pump which was clogged and I noticed that when I disconnected the pump, the water that flowed back in the hole from the 100' PVC pipe had slimy "chunks" in it. Could that be part of it? I just don't know anything about this type of work and plumbers who I talk with do seem to know much about this type of configuration or have any advice for me.

    thanks!

  2. #2
    Test, Don't Guess! cacher_chick's Avatar
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    Ya got me.... anything I know of that may help the smell would also contaminate the ground.

  3. #3
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    Assuming that 100' of 1.5" PVC is going uphill all the way:

    If I did my math right, that 100' of pipe is holding about 9 gallons of water (or about 2100 cubic inches).

    So, the water in that 100' of pipe, especially in the non-rainy season, has plenty of time to grow mold/slime/other bacterial colonies in the 100' of pipe as it's runoff water, picking up whatever is in the yards of the neighborhood.

    Assuming there's a check valve just after the pump, try disinfecting the pipe contents in the non-rainy season. Removing 12 ounces of water from the discharge end of the pipe and replacing it with 12 ounces of household bleach (which is ~5% sodium hypochlorite) will give you an ~ 500 PPM solution of sodium hypochlorite in that 100' of pipe.

    Let it sit for, say, 2 hours, then dump a few gallons of water into the "sump" to get it to run once. Repeat this every 15 minutes for an hour. Then fill that hole with a garden hose so that the vast majority of the chlorine is discharged. Make sure it pumps plenty of fresh water, say 100 gallons. Be there as each 15 minute batch is exiting to assess it. Did you smell the chlorine?

    Let that sit for a few days and then have it discharge some more by dumping a few gallons in the hole. Check the smell.

    If that helped, then the 100' pf PVC is a breeding ground. I'd guess it will require continual treatment to address which may not be viable for any number of reasons, but at least you'll know I wonder what one of those toilet chlorine tablets dropped in would do?

    If this "shocking" helped, you may consider occasional shocking to lessen the magnitude of the smell. Cleaning it out just before and after the rainy season may be helpful.

    This all assumes of course that discharging 12 ounces of bleach into "the catch basin at the bottom of the hill" does not cause a problem.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    General Engineering Contractor ballvalve's Avatar
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    Its historic, its clean of feces, so why care about how sump water smells? Someone having a picnic at the discharge?

  5. #5
    DIY Junior Member rbico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ballvalve View Post
    Its historic, its clean of feces, so why care about how sump water smells? Someone having a picnic at the discharge?
    Becuase I like my neighbors...we are at the top of a cul-de-sac and the water goes down our hil to a 4-way intersection where the catch-bais is.This area gets lots of foot traffic; kids walking to school, kids playing, people walkign their dogs, etc. About once a month someone reports the water and the city comes out and looks at it, then checks it off a list. This has been going on for 25 years. I think that if the water didn't smell, people wouldn't care.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member rbico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NegativeEntropy View Post
    Assuming that 100' of 1.5" PVC is going uphill all the way:

    If I did my math right, that 100' of pipe is holding about 9 gallons of water (or about 2100 cubic inches).

    So, the water in that 100' of pipe, especially in the non-rainy season, has plenty of time to grow mold/slime/other bacterial colonies in the 100' of pipe as it's runoff water, picking up whatever is in the yards of the neighborhood.

    Assuming there's a check valve just after the pump, try disinfecting the pipe contents in the non-rainy season. Removing 12 ounces of water from the discharge end of the pipe and replacing it with 12 ounces of household bleach (which is ~5% sodium hypochlorite) will give you an ~ 500 PPM solution of sodium hypochlorite in that 100' of pipe.

    Let it sit for, say, 2 hours, then dump a few gallons of water into the "sump" to get it to run once. Repeat this every 15 minutes for an hour. Then fill that hole with a garden hose so that the vast majority of the chlorine is discharged. Make sure it pumps plenty of fresh water, say 100 gallons. Be there as each 15 minute batch is exiting to assess it. Did you smell the chlorine?

    Let that sit for a few days and then have it discharge some more by dumping a few gallons in the hole. Check the smell.

    If that helped, then the 100' pf PVC is a breeding ground. I'd guess it will require continual treatment to address which may not be viable for any number of reasons, but at least you'll know I wonder what one of those toilet chlorine tablets dropped in would do?

    If this "shocking" helped, you may consider occasional shocking to lessen the magnitude of the smell. Cleaning it out just before and after the rainy season may be helpful.

    This all assumes of course that discharging 12 ounces of bleach into "the catch basin at the bottom of the hill" does not cause a problem.

    Good luck.
    I will give this a shot. I have thrown in the bleach tablets, but if the PVC is holding yuck then that's probably why it didn't do much. Maybe if I shock the system, then add the tablet it would work better. I was thinking of dismantling the pump and check valve so that water can flow backwards into the hole. Then going to the front yard - where the discharge hole is - and flushing a couple of gallons of hot bleach/water mixture through the system; perhaps even renting a hot water pressure washer and mixing in bleach and flushing the system that way ion hopes to blow out all of the funk.

    thanks for you advice and time.
    Last edited by rbico; 02-01-2010 at 07:12 AM.

  7. #7
    DIY Member bubb1957's Avatar
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    Maybe try a product similar to bio-clean. Do a google search on it. The bleach option would probably be cheaper, but thats another option for you.

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