Sump pit fills super fast!

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Old 02-08-15, 09:36 AM
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Sump pit fills super fast!

In October, I moved into a large home with a sump pit in the basement. The previous owners had a sump pump but left it shut off (unplugged). I bought the house three months before moving in, so the pump had been disabled for at least that long. The pit was filled with water up to the top of the three inlet pipes and there's no evidence that water ever went above that level.

I thought it odd that the pump was installed, but disabled. So I turned it on and it works. But the pit re-fills to the level of the float switch within 90 seconds! I figured I would just leave it and see if the incoming flow of water would decrease, but it has been four months now and the inflow of water has been the same regardless of weather conditions outside. See picture to get an idea of how fast it fills.

I tried to figure out where the water drains to. It flows through a pipe to the exterior of the house, and then turns 90 degrees straight down into the ground. Where it leads from there... I have no idea. This elbow joint occurs underneath our patio, so without tearing the whole patio out and then digging, I don't see any way to figure out where the pipe leads. We do not have city sewer, and I am sure it does not feed into the septic tank (I checked).

Should I be concerned? Should I just disable the pump and let the pit fill up until it stops and just leave it like that? It never seems to overflow and there's no evidence of water ever flooding into the basement. Any tips for how we might figure out where the water is draining to?

 
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Old 02-08-15, 10:07 AM
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It's pretty hard for us to offer you a lot of help as we can't see what you can. It sounds like you have a natural underground stream or a high water table.

Are there any streams on the property ?
Have you considered talking to the previous homeowner ?

As a possibility you may have to raise the pump to the point where it will start pumping if the pit was going to overflow.
 
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Old 02-08-15, 10:15 AM
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At least the drain tile is working as it should. Obviously, a lot of water near the surface.

It could be that the sump water is piped to a cistern or rock pit to allow it to seep into the ground.

Dick
 
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Old 02-08-15, 10:23 AM
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I do believe the water table is high. There is actually standing water (wetlands) on the property. The previous owners stated that it wasn't there when they built the house 20 years ago, but it formed after the area started seeing more development (other homes being built up on neighboring lots). Hopefully, since it wasn't there naturally, my local municipality will allow me to tamper with it if that ends up being the best course of action.

I have thought about raising the level of the float switch to be right at the top, just before the water overflows. Unfortunately, this pump has a built-in float switch that isn't adjustable, so I would need a secondary float switch that controls the main power supply to the whole unit. While possible to do, it definitely means more single points of failure.
 
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Old 02-08-15, 11:19 AM
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Raise the entire pump.

A dry well would not work for the sump water if the water table is high.

I would think at some point the pit will overflow if it fills to the top. Probably in larger storms.
 
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Old 02-08-15, 11:51 AM
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The code enforcement people use a dye to flush down a toilet to inspect and determine if the resulting discharge from the septic system is flowing back to the surface anywhere. You should be able to find such a dye somewhere. Add some to the sump pit and after a few cycles it should be mostly gone. Then watch over time to see if any of the return water has that coloring. If yes, then your discharge is returning to the drainage around your house.

Since it seems to stabilize at the top of the pit, then you know to some degree where the water table around your house maxes out. But it seems like it must have a release to somewhere at exactly that level. It is difficult to suggest, but if you ran a hose into that pit, would it continue as it has or would it overflow. Like I said, difficult to suggest.

You might want to consider an alternate surface discharge. If the surface has some slope to get that water well away then you might get a better idea as to what is happening below.

If that is the water table height, a lot of what you can do will depend upon the landscaping around your house. Flat is bad, a really good slope to somewhere is better, as long as it isn't to your neighbors yard.

Bud
 
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Old 02-08-15, 12:51 PM
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Thank you! This is what I am going to do - move the whole pump up. Also, I'll try the dye trick once the snow has melted.
 
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Old 02-08-15, 01:26 PM
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In some cases, if the drain does not have a check valve as a backflow preventer, everything that is pumped out can flow right back into the pit.
 
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Old 02-08-15, 02:35 PM
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The dye trick was to see if the water pumped out is simply flowing back into your basement. Where it might surface outside is not important.

Bud
 
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Old 02-09-15, 06:17 PM
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The dye test may be easier to interpret if you mix the dye with water in a pitcher or bucket and pour it into wherever the sump pump output water goes after it comes out of the house. This way you don't have any dye in the pit first and any dye that shows up in the pit came from outside.

Sometimes there is a sweet spot where the pump keeps going on and off but if you raise the float turn on level the water rises a bit higher and stays without turning on the pump and without overflowing onto the floor. Such a sweet spot may come and go depending on rainfall. If you do enjoy such a sweet spot, keep an eye on the opposite side or corner of the basement since the water table can vary over a distance of only a few feet.
 
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Old 02-13-15, 05:48 PM
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never disable a pump,,, IF it weren't ever needed, why's it there in the 1st place ? ALWAYS discharge on top of the ground,,, do NOT raise the pump until you are CERTAIN you don't have a high ambient water table BUT be damned sure that's the case

dye - schmye,,, put in a proper discharge line 1st !
 
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