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View Full Version : I has a sump pump grump



moth
01-22-2011, 08:51 PM
Yesterday I noticed the sump was running constantly and not shutting off. I really really didn't want to have to open up the cover on it because it's screwed into the concrete basement floor and caulked shut (we have radon), but I had no choice.

Also the sump is smushed in a back corner of the basement, between the furnace and the water heater. Luxurious amounts of elbow room! And of course no spiders, webs, dust or other creepy-crawlies.

When I finally got the cover off (half of it anyway, it's a split cover), there was steam coming out of the pump well.

I was like oh, crap, that ain't good. (And I never use the word ain't. It's practically a curse word for me.)

So I stick my hand in the well to see how warm the water is -- and it's hot. I mean reflexive-yank-back hot. Not boiling though, thank God. (Can you imagine opening up your sump to find boiling water down there? *shudder*)

After a few unplug-replug and stab-the-float tests, I figured out that the pump itself was working fine, the water just had nowhere to go. It (the water) had been acting as a coolant while the pump just ran and ran. I have no idea how long it had been running non-stop before I noticed it (the house is usually pretty noisy, with two kids and three pets) but I'm so thankful I got to it in time to prevent a catastrophe.

Before DH moved out of the house, we noticed the sump pump outlet outside the house wasn't draining really well and that the water was pooling around the foundation. So since DH used to own a landscaping company once upon a bunch-of-years-ago, this summer he tore up half the yard installing an extension onto that water outlet. The idea was we could irrrigate the dry areas of the backyard and also get the foundation dry again -- two birds type of thing. Backfired though.


Summer fail: the once-desert-like parts of our lawn turned into a marshy, muddy swamp.
Winter fail: the new irrigation system FROZE.
That's why the water has nowhere to go, something is solid ice somewhere. I have to wait until things thaw out here and cut the pipe someplace upstream of the ice block so the pump can, you know, pump. Could be a couple of days or more.

Meantime -- I have to bail out the sump by hand. In buckets (read: smallish tupperware containers I never use for food), and haul the buckets upstairs and dump them out the back door. :e2thud: :e2hammer:

I have no idea how often I'll need to do that, but I'm checking the thing every half hour. At least I'll be burning some calories though. :D

And of course -- this morning as I was bailing out again -- one of my kittycats pukes on the living room rug. :e2smack:

Thanks for reading if you made it all the way to the end of this post. I guess I just wanted to vent a little. I should go see if I need to bail more...if I'm not back in an hour, send the rescue team with the dogs. ;)

Snowstorm
01-22-2011, 09:01 PM
Oh, that's just what you need isn't it? Sounds exhausting. Hopefully, the thaw will come soon so you can stop and have a permanent fix.

Rescue dogs standing by ...

tiny
01-22-2011, 09:30 PM
Oh dang. I haven't had to deal with a sump for years. I am glad. Hope you can get it sorted out sooner than later.

Maryn
01-22-2011, 11:26 PM
There are easier ways to empty the sump. None of them is fun for the whole family, but we got to do this before my birthday dinner one year, in dress-up clothes no less, and it's now a family joke.

Buy a squeeze-bulb inline hand pump (http://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j00pMdanJPyPsoC/in-Line-Fuel-Hand-Primer-Pump-One-Way-Rugby-Ball-Type-Wkj10001l.jpg)(used for siphoning liquids) and connect it to tubing or hose. One end dips into the very bottom of the sump's standing water, the other runs to the nearest drain with a little extra line for in case. (Tip: tape or otherwise secure it in place.) If the inline pump has no connectors, it's a legitimate use for duct tape. (We havin' fun yet?)

Yeah, you still have to sit in SpiderDustville and squeeze the bulb a bunch of times, until the liquid in the sump starts siphoning all the way to the freakin' drain, but it certainly beats a sump pump motor burnout which sets your house on fire, and even beats a flooded basement.

I also recommend a sump pump alarm, a little item from Home Depot or Lowe's which you place near the top of the sump's well. It'll sound good and loud when and if it gets wet, letting you know it's time to go siphon right now, or else.

Maryn, more experience than she likes

Rowan
01-23-2011, 05:24 AM
There are easier ways to empty the sump. None of them is fun for the whole family, but we got to do this before my birthday dinner one year, in dress-up clothes no less, and it's now a family joke.

Buy a squeeze-bulb inline hand pump (http://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j00pMdanJPyPsoC/in-Line-Fuel-Hand-Primer-Pump-One-Way-Rugby-Ball-Type-Wkj10001l.jpg)(used for siphoning liquids) and connect it to tubing or hose. One end dips into the very bottom of the sump's standing water, the other runs to the nearest drain with a little extra line for in case. (Tip: tape or otherwise secure it in place.) If the inline pump has no connectors, it's a legitimate use for duct tape. (We havin' fun yet?)

Yeah, you still have to sit in SpiderDustville and squeeze the bulb a bunch of times, until the liquid in the sump starts siphoning all the way to the freakin' drain, but it certainly beats a sump pump motor burnout which sets your house on fire, and even beats a flooded basement.

I also recommend a sump pump alarm, a little item from Home Depot or Lowe's which you place near the top of the sump's well. It'll sound good and loud when and if it gets wet, letting you know it's time to go siphon right now, or else.

Maryn, more experience than she likes

I've got something like this--it has a catchy name--and I love it. :) Whenever the power goes out, it switches to battery backup. It beeps constantly in this mode but you can shut that feature off. :)

Xelebes
01-23-2011, 06:53 AM
Um... what is a sump?

bettielee
01-23-2011, 07:08 AM
Would you like to borrow mah grumpty pants?

I find wearing them when dealing with problems doesn't really help the problem... but it pays to be fashionable.

Silver King
01-23-2011, 07:19 AM
Um... what is a sump?
It's a low space in a home's basement (also known as a pit) where water collects and is removed via a pump.

Stlight
01-23-2011, 07:25 AM
The sump alarm, I wish I'd had it when I had a sump pump. I remember opening the door to the basement (it was set in the floor) turning on the light and looking down. For several horrifying lifetimes I thought there was a blanket of moving cockroaches covering the entire floor. The movement, the glitter...

I did not faint. Thank you. I might have fallen down the stairs to that that horror.

After awhile I noticed it was silent. Surely that many cockroaches would make some creepy sound.

I got the flashlight and went half way down the steps. Thank you, yes, that was brave of me.

It was water. Six inches of water turning tidal in the basement. I was so glad it wasn't roaches, I kicked off my shoes, rolled up my pants' legs and waded over to the sump- pump cage (cats require a wire cage over the sump-pump) and kicked it.
It started again. I never found out why it quit. It took two days of constant running to empty the basement. But it did it. I love sump-pumps.

I bought a new one that week, just to be sure.

Bailing is bad. Maryn is amazing.

Xelebes
01-23-2011, 08:10 AM
It's a low space in a home's basement (also known as a pit) where water collects and is removed via a pump.

In similar fashion as weeping tiles? Or a septic tank?

Maryn
01-23-2011, 08:40 PM
Nothing like a septic tank and not much like weeping tiles.

In our last two houses (my only experiences, since I was a desert dweller before), it was a literal hole about 24 inches across, the top part of it lined in very rough concrete, in the poured-concrete floor of the basement. A small pump and a float are installed inside the hole. When the ground water rises to a certain level, it's pumped out, into the house's wastewater pipe, keeping the basement dry.

Here's a diagram (http://www.rainkingwaterproofing.com/images/sump-pump.jpg), a picture of the reality (http://www.ci.new-brighton.mn.us/vertical/Sites/%7B2CF34F28-6DFB-45DA-AF59-36896254F224%7D/uploads/%7B74D4458A-2C1E-4876-9923-50DA0E61B2CA%7D.JPG), and an illustration of how they work (http://www.freediyhomeimprovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/A-Sump-Pump-System.jpg).

In the 90s, when this area had a 13-day power outage, lots of basements flooded because sump pumps didn't pump. We bailed at first, then started using the squeeze-bulb siphon. It was a relief when it got so cold the groundwater froze.

Maryn, grizzled veteran

mirandashell
01-23-2011, 10:15 PM
Bloody hell!


When we have ground that wet, we tend not to build on it.......



Although the way this island is getting overcrowded, we probably will.

Xelebes
01-23-2011, 11:00 PM
Nothing like a septic tank and not much like weeping tiles.

In our last two houses (my only experiences, since I was a desert dweller before), it was a literal hole about 24 inches across, the top part of it lined in very rough concrete, in the poured-concrete floor of the basement. A small pump and a float are installed inside the hole. When the ground water rises to a certain level, it's pumped out, into the house's wastewater pipe, keeping the basement dry.

Here's a diagram (http://www.rainkingwaterproofing.com/images/sump-pump.jpg), a picture of the reality (http://www.ci.new-brighton.mn.us/vertical/Sites/%7B2CF34F28-6DFB-45DA-AF59-36896254F224%7D/uploads/%7B74D4458A-2C1E-4876-9923-50DA0E61B2CA%7D.JPG), and an illustration of how they work (http://www.freediyhomeimprovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/A-Sump-Pump-System.jpg).

In the 90s, when this area had a 13-day power outage, lots of basements flooded because sump pumps didn't pump. We bailed at first, then started using the squeeze-bulb siphon. It was a relief when it got so cold the groundwater froze.

Maryn, grizzled veteran

So... basically, a motorised weeping tile. Mmkay.

moth
01-24-2011, 02:16 AM
Buy a squeeze-bulb inline hand pump (http://image.made-in-china.com/2f0j00pMdanJPyPsoC/in-Line-Fuel-Hand-Primer-Pump-One-Way-Rugby-Ball-Type-Wkj10001l.jpg)
Man I wish I'd known those existed...ah well. :) Thanks for the heads up though -- I think I'll buy one this week and keep it downstairs just in case.

DH came over today and installed a spare pump that should move water from the main sump into our fresh-water sump -- which I didn't even know we had -- b/c apparently the fresh-water one goes to the municipal sewer system rather than into the yard. Here's hoping.


I also recommend a sump pump alarm
Have one! :) I love it but hate hearing it, as I'm sure you understand ;)


Would you like to borrow mah grumpty pants?

Oh gosh yes. I'll have them back later this week when my lower back and my knees have recovered some.


I got the flashlight and went half way down the steps. Thank you, yes, that was brave of me.
Yes it was. *thumps solidly on back* :Thumbs: Awesome.


Bailing is bad. Maryn is amazing.
Agree on both counts.

Thanks everybody. I'm tired & sore but at least the house didn't float away, or burn down, and we'll see how DH's jury-rig holds up. Generally he's a good handyman so I do have high expectations for it...but I'll be watching it, hawk-like. ;)

Maryn
01-24-2011, 03:22 AM
Hope your vigilance is utterly pointless. A sump requiring no attention whatsoever is the way to go.

Ours is cycling today on occasion, which makes no sense, since it's like four degrees.

Maryn, shoveler extraordinaire

Victoria
01-24-2011, 06:37 AM
Our sump wouldn't stop running even after it was dry. Sounded like a jet engine. Got the float unstuck and all was well, but it scared the dog half to death. Just wanted you to know I feel your pain, and I wish you quick thaw. I hate basements.

Stlight
01-24-2011, 09:17 AM
Sump pump are also good if you live on the side of a hill, even a sort of pretend hill that is more of a slope and it rains a lot. Or if it's flat and it rains a lot. Okay, they are good if you have a basement, or a first floor in some places, and it rains a lot.