Flooding in Area; Need Sump Pump Updates!

Old 07-14-17, 03:59 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 88
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Flooding in Area; Need Sump Pump Updates!

Hi all,

Here in Northern Illinois we had 7" of rain in 10 hours, so needless to say, there was a need for our sump pumps this week. Unfortunately the one that I have kept plugged in didn't keep up, or maybe didn't even come on. Time for updates.

Picture above shows what I have:

1) On the left, Pump 1, which discharges through a check valve about 8' vertically and then horizontally out to sewer (topic for another time). It has two floats attached to a rigid vertical line attached to a lever switch, mounted to the discharge pipe above. I don't think the floats are working reliably for "on" but they do turn "off" at low level. Pump runs okay when activated. This was the one that was plugged in when the heavens opened up.

2) On the right, Pump 2, which also discharges 8' vertically through a check valve and then horizontally out to yard. It has a free-floating switch; its cord is about an 8" tether. Float can move just fine. This pump seems to have about 1.5x to 2x the speed/efficiency of Pump 1.

Pump 1 was plugged in during the flooding, and I don't think turned on. I waded through an inch of water to plug in Pump 2, and also activate Pump 1, which quickly emptied the sump and let me squeegie out the basement.

After a few minutes, as has happened before, the 20A circuit breaker let go, because both pumps were drawing on same circuit. I moved one pump to a different circuit via extension cord, solving that problem.

I inherited this set-up from the previous owner so everything except check valves is more than 21 years old. So even if the pumps are wonderful, I can justify replacing them. As their age suggests, they don't need to run often. One can usually do the job of handling a heavy rain period; but during "100-year floods" like this week's (which now seem to occur every 7-10 years) I need both.

Question 1: What would you suggest: Keep this set-up and just replace with like pumps? Home Depot is right around the corner.(I can live with not having battery back up at least at this time. Power failures here are very infrequent. Separate debate, separate topic.) Any tips on pump sizing?

Note: With this particular sump, "empty or near empty" is not the normal state. Usually the sump fills to the level just above the inlet pipes and then settles. (Sump is then about 60% full.) For instance, right now, there is regular flow into he sump, but not strong enough to overcome sump water pressure. So the level settles" nicely. If I plug in Pump 2, it runs continuously because the inlet is matching its pump rate. It turns off after a couple of minutes, the float goes up, and just as the level "settles" it turns on again. Never ending cycle right now. (But when I unplug both pumps, the sump fills to just above the inlet and settles, no further. I've no desire to let Pump 2 run constantly! That's why it was unplugged to begin with).

Question 2: Should I situate the new "regular" pump higher or with longer switch to better accommodate this reality? I

Advice wanted and welcomed! House was built 1959; not sure if sump is original (metal cover not longer fits because there's a lot more "stuff" going in that there used to be). Sorry to be long winded but all the details are in here vs. back-and-forth Q&A. Thanks very much for reading.

- G.

Name:  Sump.jpg
Views: 354
Size:  49.2 KB
Old 07-14-17, 04:12 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,660
Received 4,093 Upvotes on 3,676 Posts
Everyone has their own ideas on proper sump protocol.

You have a high water table which means there will always be a certain water level in it.

I would stay with two pumps. The primary pump gets situated lower in the pit and the backup one higher so that the primary does most of the work.

Each pump needs to be on it's own circuit.
Old 07-15-17, 05:00 AM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 28,140
Received 2,263 Upvotes on 2,016 Posts
If you know that pump 2 works best and it's switch works reliably... why did you have it unplugged and relied on the lower powered pump with a unreliable switch?
Old 07-15-17, 05:37 AM
Marq1's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: USA MI
Posts: 9,745
Received 1,210 Upvotes on 1,098 Posts
Home Depot is right around the corner.
What ever you do do not by one of the POS pumps from any big box store. If you want a high quality pump, one that will outlast several of the low quality, but it's on sale pumps, look into a Liberty or Wayne pump.

As far as your set up goes, with a GOOD pump you will not need a backup pump. That will simplyfiy your pit, eliminate needing a second circuit and you can, as you know, get that pump off the sewer line, that is a bad situation.
Old 07-15-17, 06:30 AM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 4,577
Upvotes: 0
Received 287 Upvotes on 262 Posts
You should replace all worn floats and switches that don't turn on and off smartly and consistently.

You don't want to keep re-readjusting and re-repairing and re-recleaining worn sump pump and related parts. You don't want the anxiety and inconvenience of equipment that needs constant attention.

Depending on season and rainfall, the level of water in the pit (sump) may settle without overflowing. But if the level settles high enough to submerge the drain pipes that dump into the pit, you might have water up on the basement floor at the opposite side of the basement. It is best to set the sump pump turn on level lower so the drain pipes are not submerged for long periods of time even if you cannot take advantage of the settling with pump not running. YMMV.

If you get water up on the floor and you adjust the sump pump floats or switches, allow a week of running with that setting before concluding that your change worked or did not work or was good enough or was not good enough.

Once the sump pump starts it should keep going until the pit is nearly empty. Some pump switches don't have enough vertical range to accomplish and also allow settling some of the time this in which case you should consider installing a different style of switch and float assembly, possibly bypassing a pump built in switch assembly.
Old 07-15-17, 10:01 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 88
Received 0 Upvotes on 0 Posts
Pilot Dane, as I mentioned, Pump 2 wants to run constantly. I think someone installed it (or its float) too low because it constantly wants to empty the sump, whereas an apparently higher water table "likes" to settle the sump level at 50-60%. That's why we unplugged it a while back. (Dumb on our part.)

Allanj, I never get any water on the floor even with the sump "happily" settled at 50-60% full. I very much like your idea of a better switch set-up.

Really, I thank you all for great advice and input. After absorbing all and researching further... I like the idea of keeping the basic set-up; making Pump 2 with its outdoor discharge the primary pump; and per Allanj, now going with a separate float switch that can be mounted in the ideal spot based on observation and experience. Later I might even add a couple of marine batteries and an inverter to create a back-up system.

Okay, no Home Depot. What about this one? Ion seems to be well regarded by pro's.


Thanks again.
Old 07-16-17, 04:46 AM
Join Date: May 2006
Location: upstate New York
Posts: 375
Received 4 Upvotes on 4 Posts
sump pump

I've also had great luck with Little Giant brand pumps. Steve
Old 07-16-17, 11:28 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Jersey
Posts: 65,660
Received 4,093 Upvotes on 3,676 Posts
Little Giant is good. I like Zoeller pumps.... like the M53. Zoeller Pump Company

I'm not aware of the company you linked to but I do like that switch/float setup.

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: