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Sump Pump Frequency - New House


StephenM35's Avatar
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12-21-16, 02:08 PM   #1 (permalink)  
Sump Pump Frequency - New House

New house, just finished about a month ago. I've never had a basement, our sump pump is running about every 5-10 min. The discharge is carried about 60-70' to the back yard into a ditch. Sod in the front yard, seed and straw in the back. The sump pump does have a check valve installed horizontally right outside the sump pit. I can tell the pump is working, it pushes out quite a bit of water from the discharge pipe. We did have a bad rain a few days ago, but the pump has basically been running at this interval before and after then. I'm concerned this is too frequent, but really have no idea what to expect. Any advice is appreciated.

 
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12-21-16, 02:45 PM   #2 (permalink)  
How often pump runs is determined by several things. First and foremost is how much water is reaching the area drained by the pump. Some pumps just drain the under-slab area, others drain the foundation drains.

Next factors are size of the sump pit and position of pump in the pit. Since sump pumps run when the water in the pit reaches a certain level, a larger pit will accumulate more water before the pump turns on. Similarly, a pump that is placed higher in the pit will again allow more water to accumulate before turn on.

Last major factor is pump size (HP).

Every 5-10 minutes is not particularly unusual, but perhaps more often than most. How long does the pump run when it runs?

One easy thing to check is the depth of the pump in the pit. It should be positioned so it turns on about the time the water reaches the bottom of the pipes draining into the pit or just a little higher.


Paul

Inside every small project is a big project waiting to slug you over the head and take all your money and time....

 
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12-21-16, 03:50 PM   #3 (permalink)  
very 5-10 minutes is not particularly unusual

Well a pump that cycles every 5-10 minutes is going to die a short death, I've been there and you will be replacing the pump in short order.

Typ the plumber will put the pump into the pit and plumb it up. What happens is that you get a few inches of water and the pump turns on, pumps out the few gallons of water, then repeats.

What you need to do is raise the pump so the switch will turn on when the water level is ABOVE the top of the pipe. That way the water will collect throughout the entire drain field then allow the pump to draw a HUGE amount of water.

Pick up some 12" round or square patio stones and stack them in the pit.

Cycling of a pump is it's downfall, it wants to turn on and run for long periods.

 
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12-21-16, 04:17 PM   #4 (permalink)  
I timed the pump tonight and it turns on every 6.5 minutes and runs for approx 37 seconds and turns off. It does discharge water every time. There are several holes and pipes in the sump pit and I have NO idea which ones do what or which pipe I should try to raise the pump over.

 
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12-21-16, 07:13 PM   #5 (permalink)  
It's not a good idea to set the level above the drain pipes. Doing so means the drain tile are full of standing water all the time and dirt will settle out and can lead to clogging. And it means the footers are surrounded by water all the time which can lead to settling.


Paul

Inside every small project is a big project waiting to slug you over the head and take all your money and time....

 
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12-22-16, 07:54 AM   #6 (permalink)  
Thanks for the input, I'm still not sure what direction to take. I called the plumber since the house is still under the first year warranty and he's coming today to look at it and see what needs to be done. My ditch in the back yard has doubled in width in the past month from all the water drainage, I just can't imagine that much water is normal. I will update with what he says, and any additional advice is always welcome.

 
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12-22-16, 10:43 AM   #7 (permalink)  
Hi Stephen,
The short run time is an indication of a minimal retainer size and a good size pump. A larger diameter pit and perhaps deeper pit would hold more water and slow the cycle time.

As for the source of the water, that can be natural ground water, subsurface flow, or even a broken water line. What is the level of the surrounding land? Ironically, the water being pumped out can flow underground right back to you basement due to the subsurface structure.

In any case, consider adding a second pump in case this one dies, a flooded basement is a pain.

Bud

 
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12-22-16, 11:23 AM   #8 (permalink)  
Not mentioned by the others...You said the house is new. That means the backfill is relatively fresh and loose. As it settles the amount of flow should diminish. You will notice within the next year or two that the soil grading next to house will settle and perhaps slant towards the house. When that happens, buy new top soil and make sure you have a good grade sloping away from the foundation. This will greatly reduce the water intake to the house.

 
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12-22-16, 02:52 PM   #9 (permalink)  
It's not a good idea to set the level above the drain pipes. Doing so means the drain tile are full of standing water all the time and dirt will settle out and can lead to clogging.

Drain tiles are above the footers so they are "in water" all the time regardless.

Drain fields are filled with pea gravel to allow for the collection of and movement of water toward toward the drain tiles and pit.

Filling up with water is not an issue and is exactly what the drain field is intended to do. All you are doing is maximizing the pump efficiency by minimizing the frequency of start up's.

The death of a pump is not how long it runs but how many times it starts!

 
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12-22-16, 05:14 PM   #10 (permalink)  
A couple updates:

My sump pit is about 21" in diameter by about 2' deep. I have a Zoeller M53-D sump pump. I unplugged it for about an hour so far tonight. The water level quickly rose to about 9.25" and seems to have remained steady there for now. It's still below the two large pipes and one pvc pipe coming in, but only by about .5"-1". The pit is lined with small 1/4" holes all the way to the bottom that I assume is where the water is coming in. All three of the large pipes are bone dry. I'm assuming I can set the sump pump at the level of ~10.5" and that should fix it?

 
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12-22-16, 06:31 PM   #11 (permalink)  
One more note, just to check my math. Current pump level pumps water out at a height of 7.5" and knocks the level down to 4.25" in about 30 seconds. I'm going to put 3-1" pavers underneath the sump pump, so it'll pump out at 10.5" and take it down to 7.25" level. Is this the correct step to take, as long as the water level remain below the three large pipes that feed in the sump pit? Also, is 7.25" too much standing water to leave in the sump pit?

 
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12-23-16, 08:00 AM   #12 (permalink)  
Once the sump pump starts it should keep going until the pit is nearly empty (less than an inch of water remaining).

If the water level rises again but stops just before the pump should turn on then the water can remain that way.

At all times there should be a continuous lengthwise air space in the under-floor perimeter drain pipes or drain tiles all around the basement. There is no easy way to verify this but having the pump start before more than half of any drain pipe as seen in the pit is submerged is a reasonable pump setting for starters. (If you get water up on the floor on the opposite side of the basement then you need to start the pump sooner. Allow a week of running before drawing conclusions.)

IMHO most sump pump basins are too small. My own recommendation is about 3 cubic feet of pit space (about 20 gallons) below the drain pipes and not filled with rocks. Another advantage of a larger pit is to give more time for water queued up in the drain pipes to come out and be pumped in the same cycle rather than detract from the space in the pit for the next cycle's worth of water.

 
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12-23-16, 08:45 AM   #13 (permalink)  
I think this pump is on a timer if I'm not mistaken, it looks like in about 35 seconds it pumps out 3-4" of water. It's brand new, right at a month old. It doesn't empty out the sump pit, I know that, but it takes it down to about 4.25" of water every time (it kicks on at about 7.5" height of water). The volume, if I did math correct, is about 36 gallons of water total in the sump pit if it was completely full, so I think it's a big enough pit. My only guess, and that's all it really is (somewhat educated), is that my water table is higher than the height of my float on the sump pump, so it keeps cycling every 6-7 minutes.

I still don't know if the correct action is to raise the pump by about 3" (from what I understand, you can't manually raise the float on this type of pump) and let it drain from 10.5" (above the water table, I think) down to 7.25", and let there be standing water in the sump pit at that level, which is about 3.5-4" below the large drain pipes.

 
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12-24-16, 12:59 AM   #14 (permalink)  
There is no timer if ,as you state, there is a float. It tuns on and off when the float activates the pump.

So you have something different than what I am used to seeing. Your drain field pipes are dry but there are other openings in the pit below them.

If as you state the water rises to the 9.5 height (which is below the pipes) and holds, that would be the natural water line. I agree setting the on position at 10.5 would eliminate the cycling and provide the additional volume if the water rose that high.

Standing water in a pit is normal.

 
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12-24-16, 07:27 AM   #15 (permalink)  
I think there must be a float then, its white and seems to activate the sump pump on. I've raised the pump to 10.5" now and it runs for much longer at this height than at the 7.5" height (3 min vs 30 secs). Also seems to run less frequently, but I haven't had time to sit down there and time it yet. Water comes up to about 1/4" above the lowest pipe, but it's the pvc one, so I'm not sure what it's connected too. The two black large drain pipes are still untouched by standing water. I should have been more clear on what's below those pipes, but being new to a basement and sump pump, I was confused. Those holes below the drain pipes are just the perforated holes in the sump basin.

 
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12-24-16, 07:31 PM   #16 (permalink)  
Extraneous small holes in the sump basin will not cause any harm unless dirt comes in.

A few holes in the bottom can be helpful to prevent flotation of the entire basin out of the pit that in turn could break some of the pipes and other components.

 
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