New Sump Pump Advice

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Mark Ezrin

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I need to replace my sump pump and want to take a swing at doing it myself.

The pump is 22 years old and I'm pretty sure it failed. The outlet is working so I know it isn't power. I have standing water where the pump is sitting.

(1) Do I need to drain the water out of the area where the pump is sitting before replacing it?

(2) Is there any logic to picking out a replacement sump pump? Yes I'm aware one easy way is to look at what I have and I'll do that. However, it makes an assumption I have the correct one in the 1st place or that I might want to do something better than what the builder provided. I'm assuming technology hasn't changed for sump pumps.

Pricing was all over the map and thus my question in trying to decide what direction to go with respect to selecting a replacement.

My power is reliable but should I opt for a battery backup or is that overkill?

(3) What other helpful tips does anyone have for this project? My current one does have a combo of PVC and rubber gaskets.

As always, thanks for the advice.

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Reach4

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Your pictures almost seem to show a sealed vented sewage pit. While ejector and grinder pumps are submersible, people usually use the word sump pump for ground water. A grinder pump is needed if the sewage contains solids, such as from a toilet.

However the corrugated piping says ground water, so that is probably the deal. But ground water in a sump usually does not look so skuzzy.

Some use an ejector pump for groundwaer, built for no-big-solids sewage, instead of a sump pump. They are more expensive but are usually built stronger.

https://www.supplyhouse.com/Sump-Pumps-1424000 Zoeller M63 or M95 would be what I would be looking at if my sump pump failed.

No need to drain the water.

If using a battery backup system, I would check Basement Watchdog.
 
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Mark Ezrin

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Yes, I can explain the skuzzy water. It is definitely not sewage and is for groundwater, etc. A traditional sump pump. I have an inground basement with rear walk-up steps. At the base of the steps is a drain. I get tons of leaves as I back up to the woods. After 22 years, this is the 1st time I didn't do a great job cleaning the drain area of leaves. With the help of Mother Nature and my failure, plenty of leaves decomposed and got into the drain and then back into the sump pump area. I discovered it because the area by the drain at the steps was not draining after a recent storm as it appeared clogged. Then I discovered the sump pump wasn't working.

Do I need to replace the check valve above the drain cover?

Edit: Is there a particular model (with and without a backup battery) that you would recommend from Basement Watchdog? Lowe's doesn't have the Zoeller M63 in stock and Home Depot doesn't carry the brand.

I'm assuming this is far from a complicated install.

We don't lose much power (fingers crossed now that I jinxed myself) so I'm less inclined to get a battery backup.

Thank you.
 
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Reach4

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Looking again, I see the big pipe is not a vent. What is that big pipe?

So not bad. If you can take this apart, that will be good. But otherwise, you will add some couplings. Note that you want a 3/16 hole in the pipe below the cover. That prevents the sump pump from getting air locked. That hole may already exist. Since a bit of water will spray out of that hole, you usually want to tilt the hole to spray downward.
 

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Hi, the large pipe is a radon vent pipe.

Yeah, from everything I looked at, it doesn't look like a particularly hard job.

I'm guessing I can still use the check valve that is there. Yeah, I saw the instructions mentioned the 3/16" hole and I'll confirm it is there. Thanks for the reminder. From what I can see, it appears to be just disconnecting the check valve, sliding the basin cover up and out of the way and then removing the old pump.

Would it make sense to use my shop vac and get the muck out of there so its not going through the pump or am I overthinking it?
Now, I just need to find out how quickly I can get it. Grainger, Fergusson, Amazon, Lowe's, Ace don't have it in stock or for fast delivery. Home Depot, True Value and Tractor Supply seem to not carry it at all.

Fortunately, we've got no rain in the forecast for a few days. Fingers crossed.
 

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Supplyhouse is pretty fast. It has been UPS ground the times I ordered. I expect you could pay extra for faster. But if you were looking for something before Wednesday, I think Labor day will interfere.
 

Mark Ezrin

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(1) What would tell me/indicate I need to replace the check valve?

(2) What is my risk to damaging the new one by not sucking out the dirty water in the sump pump basin? Would you empty it?

(3) Would a yard blower be a good idea to clean the various lines in/out? Or snake turn?

(4) are you aware of any mesh like drain covers i could put over the drain on the back steps to make it more challenging for debris to get into the system? I was kinda thinking about cutting up a mesh cover and gluing it under or over the normal cover.

Yeah, supplyhouse isn't until Wed. Ferguson is closed for the weekend, including Monday. Lowe's is also next week. Amazon is the best I can do. I'm just nervous about going that long given the luck of no rain right now. I put water alarms around it.

Thanks.
 

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1. When the pump turned off, there would be significant refilling of the sump pit with water from above the check valve.

2. Probably no danger. But sucking out stuff might make you feel better.

3. If you can do it, sure.

4. That would be dependent on what drain you have. The slots in a normal cover are small enough that the sump pump should be able to handle what goes thru. https://www.zoellerpumps.com/product/model-63-sump-pump/ says "Passes 1/2” (12 mm) spherical solids".

If forecast of a gully washer appears, you could buy a plastic sump pump locally to tide you over. That would then be your spare.
 
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Mark Ezrin

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1. When the pump turned off, there would be significant refilling of the sump pit with water from above the check valve.
Not sure when the pump died vs water in the basin. So I can't accurately know.
2. Probably no danger. But sucking out stuff might make you feel better.
Well, you're getting a feel for my nervousness.
3. If you can do it, sure.
Yeah it's possible. I have a relatively long snake and with the lid off I could use my shopvac. It doubles as a blower.
4. That would be dependent on what drain you have. The slots in a normal cover are small enough that the sump pump should be able to handle what goes thru. https://www.zoellerpumps.com/product/model-63-sump-pump/ says "Passes 1/2” (12 mm) spherical solids".

If forecast of a gully washer appears, you could buy a plastic sump pump locally to tide you over. That would then be your spare.
No gully washers in the forecast but this mid-Atlantic area can be fickle in the summer.

The finer mesh cover is back to the paranoid nervousness. 22 years and no issues.

Thanks.
 

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I'm in MD as well and there's no rain coming for a few days. Just heat.
I'm not a plumber.
I would replace the check valve unless it doesn't look too old.

I've had excellent results using a HydroCheck HC6000 "Hi-Lo Sump Pump Controller" with a manual pump. No floats to hang up and no mechanical switches to go bad. There are two sensors so you can set the on/off height where it works best for your situation and to reduce short cycling.


This helps with install but I haven't used one yet.

Kit with both items.

I've used the Liberty 230 pump in the past. The 233 will also work. Just don't use the float plug and tie it up out of the way.
Northeastern Supply is in MD and sells to the public. Don't know if they still sell Liberty pumps.

I don't want to add confusion to this but the mechanical switches on the pumps will eventually fail.
 

WorthFlorida

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As Reach4 suggests, Zoeller's are about the best pumps for residential use. The model Reach4 suggests does handle effluent it should take care of any leaf problems.

You should not get any kind if debris other than maybe soil or sand, not decompose leaves. It also suggest that the corrugated pipe used for this does not have a sock over the pipes to prevent debris from entering. Are there any rain gutters tie to the pit?

If you have a shop vac, remove the old pump, and get all the water out of the pit to get to the bottom to clean out debris, sand, whatever. The old pump may have been jammed and the motor burned out but 22 years you did good.
 

Reach4

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I've had excellent results using a HydroCheck HC6000 "Hi-Lo Sump Pump Controller" with a manual pump. No floats to hang up and no mechanical switches to go bad. There are two sensors so you can set the on/off height where it works best for your situation and to reduce short cycling.
There is a lot to be said by selecting a pump without a built-in switch, and instead using as separate switch that has a piggyback plug. Makes for easier troubleshooting. Makes for easier repair if the problem is the switch.

That 2-probe electronic system has the advantage that a float cannot get hung up. On the other hand, I am not as trusting of the reliability of electronics as I used to be. Back in the old days, float switches used mercury. Those were exceptionally reliable.
 

Mark Ezrin

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As Reach4 suggests, Zoeller's are about the best pumps for residential use. The model Reach4 suggests does handle effluent it should take care of any leaf problems.

You should not get any kind if debris other than maybe soil or sand, not decompose leaves. It also suggest that the corrugated pipe used for this does not have a sock over the pipes to prevent debris from entering. Are there any rain gutters tie to the pit?
No rain gutters run to the pit. Just the back drain, exterior water and HVAC stuff. Yes, the clog was rare. 22 years in the house and this is the 1st I missed some leaves and stuff that eventually got into the drain/pipe.

Since I'm kind of a novice, where would the sock go in the system? I get the idea but not sure where I would install it. I assume I'd get it at a hardware store or online? But again, I'm really thinking the debris was me slacking with clearing out the back steps. One kind of key thing I left out - last fall, I had a roof hit the back of the house. It damaged the gutters and part of the roof. We monitored it as best we could while we had a 6-month fight with insurance to get it covered (which we did). Another reason my eye wasn't on the ball and because of the damage, we didn't have the normal gutter-cleaning service. With the new roof, we now have gutter guards!
If you have a shop vac, remove the old pump, and get all the water out of the pit to get to the bottom to clean out debris, sand, whatever. The old pump may have been jammed and the motor burned out but 22 years you did good.

Yeah, I agree. 22 years was a good run and no harm in using my shop vac to clean it out tonight and try and blow or snake the lines clear. The worst case is I just wasted time and I'm willing to do that.

Thanks!
 

WorthFlorida

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A sock is a cloth sleeve that is placed around the corrugated drain pipe. It is done during installation. Another way is bury the drain pipe in stone with fabric on top the stone or pipe. No way to tell without doing some digging.
 

Mark Ezrin

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There is a lot to be said by selecting a pump without a built-in switch, and instead using as separate switch that has a piggyback plug. Makes for easier troubleshooting. Makes for easier repair if the problem is the switch.

That 2-probe electronic system has the advantage that a float cannot get hung up. On the other hand, I am not as trusting of the reliability of electronics as I used to be. Back in the old days, float switches used mercury. Those were exceptionally reliable.
Lots of things aren't made the way they used to be made. Everyone makes great points and since we've had a drought here, I've been digesting information. It's like when I'm advising my friends with smart home tech. Most of the major brands (and upstarts which is kind of funny to say relative to a new segment like smart home tech) will do most of what we want. The question is what ecosystem do you want and how do you want to accomplish it.

I've got a Zoeller M63 and check valve sitting on my kitchen counter. I keep going back and forth about getting a Basement Watchdog unit with a battery backup. Don't want to be short-sighted (knock on wood) but we very rarely lose power.

Can you add a backup battery at a later date? Or is it one system? Hard to tell. Rain is finally coming so I've got to get this done.

Thanks again for everyone's advice.
 

Mark Ezrin

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A sock is a cloth sleeve that is placed around the corrugated drain pipe. It is done during installation. Another way is bury the drain pipe in stone with fabric on top the stone or pipe. No way to tell without doing some digging.
I figured that is kind of what it was. And after a little google search, who knows what they did on anything around the house. So, at this point, a sock is unfortunately an academic discussion since we don't know. However, I found things like this trap and was thinking it might not be a bad idea. It is what I was envisioning with a little macgyver action and putting something under the drain. But that is back to my paranoia from this one episode.
 

Mark Ezrin

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If using a battery backup system, I would check Basement Watchdog.
If I went with a battery backup, any particular model(s) you'd suggest? Seems like the

Basement Watchdog Special or Big Dog are my best 2 (of the 3) options they offer. Any other brands meet the reliability?
 
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