Constant flow

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co, Apr 5, 2008.

  1. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Right now I have a constant flow of water going in my sump pump. My house is 4 years old and this problem started about 2 months ago. We called the county because we thought we had a water leak. They came and checked our meter and they say there is no leak. Our pump is running ever 2 minutes on the dot. We haven't had any serious rain or snow during the past 2 months. Where could this water be coming from. The water going into my pump is a constant flow. Any insight would be appreciated. The county came out and tested the water inside our sump pump and say it's not drinking water so there is no leak elsewhere.
  2. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    If you can post the answers to the following questions I can analyze what is happening and perhaps suggest some causes and solutions.

    For the 2-minute interval between cycles, how many seconds is the pump running each cycle?

    How many gallons of water are pumped each cycle?

    What is the diameter of the basin?

    How many and how large are the holes that are admitting water to the basin? How far are they from the bottom of the basin?

    How high is the water outside of the basin, above the water level in the basin when the pump cycle stops?

    How many inches of water are removed with each cycle (change in height between start and stop)?

    Can you see where the water is discharging so you know that is isn't running back to the sump? Is it being discharged so it runs away from the foundation?

    Is there any evidence that the check valve, which should be near the pump, is allowing leakage back into the basin?

    Is there melting snow or surface runoff that is saturating the ground?

    Are there any streams or ditches nearby with water running or standing in them?

    Does the ground surface slope down toward the house?
  3. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    no it slopes away from the house



    The only other thing is there is still some water in the basin after the pump cycles..is that normal? Also my neighbors have the same stream behind their houses..1 house on the left of me is a 3 year old house. On the other side is a 50+ year house. Their sump pumps are not running.
  4. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    It is normal to have a little water left in the basin after the pump shuts off.

    The pipe is probably bringing water from a "French drain", which is usually a perforated pipe around the foundation of the house. Two GPM is not a large flow from a foundation drain.

    The difference between the flow you are getting and the no-flow your neighbors are getting could be caused by one or more of the following: (1) Your foundation elevation may be lower than theirs so it is farther below the ground-water table. (2) The ground-water may be higher at your house due to infiltration from the stream. (3) Your drains might be deeper than theirs, so you will collect water at a greater rate.

    Even if a difference in elevation is the reason for the difference in frequency, just knowing it isn't going to help solve the problem; and the measurements would have to be made with a surveying instrument. Unless it is going to help improve your situation it isn't worth spending any money to determine the elevation differences.

    You can do a test on the effect of elevation, and determine if you could save pumping by raising the water level, if you do the following test.
    1. Turn off power to the pump, or unplug it, after the pump shuts off.

    2. With the pump off, measure the distance from the floor to the top of water in the basin at time intervals of 1 minute. Based on your experience, water should rise about 2" per minute. However, I suspect that the rate of rise may slow down as it approaches the top of the basin.

    If it slows down greatly as the level rises then you might be able to reduce the frequency of the cycle by raising the control level to start pumping at about 6" below the top of the floor. The means of doing that depends on the float arrangement on your pump.

    Even if you can't raise the level, or if it doesn't slow down the inflow, you can reduce the frequency of pumping by increasing the range of the switch that controls the pump. If you keep the level at least 6" below the top of the floor you should keep the basement dry.

    I suspect that the rate of inflow will diminish by late may, and maybe sooner.
  5. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Thanks Bob

    I'm going to have a plumber come out and possibly install a second pump. While he does this I'm sure he can do what you said above. I'm scared to even mess with it at this point. Right now it's raining and my pump still has the same exact flow that it did prior to it raining. I'm scared that this problem isn't going to go away


    We are getting ready to put our house on the market so now isn't the time for my pump to be running non stop. It's been fine for 4 years. This year we have had less rain than previous years so the whole thing makes no sense. My one neighbor is significantly lower, her foundation is and she is fine.

    I really appreciate your help.

    My only other plan of action is the county here is going to run some more tests just to be sure something isn't leaking. They came out and did a test on my water in the pit to see if it had chlorine(which it did not). BUT when I called a water company to have a private test done they told me they(or anyone else) would not find chlorine or fluoride as when the water passes through the ground it gets flitered out. SO when I told the county this they suddenly are going to run more tests to see if there is a leak somewhere..go figure. They told me "let us try some other things" before you get a plumber..almost like they did not want for me to do that. It was odd..

    ANYWAY I'll update on my situation if anything new happends.
  6. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    You can check your water meter to be sure that you aren't leaking anything that you must pay for. Turn off all known water uses and make sure the meter isn't turning. If there is no flow through the meter when you aren't using water then you don't have a leak in the house. Checking that yourself is a lot less expensive than getting a plumber, which will probably cost you $150 for a visit without doing anything.

    You don't need a second pump for capacity as you are only pumping about 10% of the time. Another pump will not change the pumping interval and the pumping time is already quite short. You may want one for backup in case of failure of the first pump but if the meter isn't turning (there is usually a little triangle device that turns rapidly) then the water is coming from outside and that is not what a plumber fixes.

    You can easily check if the water will rise to the floor level by just turning off or disconnecting the pump and watching for a bit. Depending on the water table you may never get a wet floor, or the inflow may slow down substantially. Check the time/level measurements that I described to see if the problem is related to water level.

    A deeper pit with wider range between start/stop levels, and allowing the water to rise higher if it is below the floor, will reduce the frequency of pumping.

    If your floor is higher than some nearby ground (do you have a walk-out basement?) a solution could be to run a drain directly from the foundation to the outside.

    If the pipe coming into the basin is below the water level then you could improve things by putting in a sump that would allow you to always keep the water below that pipe. That might allow you to pull the water table down to a level where the pumping would be less frequent, but only if you can pump down the water table.
  7. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    The pipe coming out of the sump hole does get covered by water but then it's not covered once the sump pumps out.
  8. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Omg

    You were SOOOOOOOOO flippin RIGHT! I did it and the water stopped. It got to where the black pipe comes in almost to the top of the pipe and it stopped coming in. Lets just say my basin was less than 1/3 full and it stopped running OMG...you are the best..NOW how do I raise the pump up as you mentioned?

    BY the way my name is Nicole and my husband thinks I'm nuts LOL b/c when I have problems I research on the net. I waited until he went to sleep to do the test LOL..... BUT I normally get fantastic answers as I did here..

    I just woke him up to tell him how right you were. You have no idea how much headache you just saved me. My house goes on the market May 1st and I was so scared about this since it was running so much..who would buy my house then?

    I can't thank you enough..really if you were here I would hug you!:D

    Nicole:)
  9. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    You could raise the pump by just lifting it up and putting it on blocks or bricks, but I would not do that unless you can just lift the pump without having to repipe the outlet. If you want to repipe the outlet you can do that.

    If you can't raise the pump easily then you can raise the switch, or put in another switch. What you have to do depends on what kind of switch you have on the pump. If it is a switch with a float that you can see, then it is usually adjustable. If the float is on a cord and the point of attachment can be moved, then it can be adjusted by raising the attachment point which might be on the discharge pipe.

    If the switch is part of the pump and you can't adjust the float, then the simplest way to do it is to get a sump-pump switch at HD or somewhere and fasten it to the discharge pipe so it operates over the range that you want. Get the kind that has a plug with holes in the back of the plug to plug the pump into. You install the switch; plug it into the receptacle you are now using, and then plug your existing pump cord into the outlet in the back of the plug on the new switch.

    The float switch will control above and below the point of attachment and the range between start and stop depends on the length of cord from attachment to the float.

    If you know or can find the complete model number of the pump we can probably tell what kind of switch it has.

    The Aquanot II battery powered sump pump is often recommended on this forum. You can check it out on line at the following link. Paste it to your browser and delete the asterisk in the link. The forum automatically deletes the link if it is correctly typed here. You can also Google Aquanot II and find sources.

    http://www.plumbing*supply.com/zoeller_backuppumpsystems.html

    http://www.zoeller.com/Zcopump/Products/backupsystems/aquanot.htm

    You would put the Aquanot II in the same pit; adjust the float to operate above the level of the primary pump, and connect it to a "deep cycle" battey that you can buy at WalMart. You would connect it to your existing discharge pipe through its own check valve.

    See the installation instruction in Figure 3.1 at the link for how you would connect it to your existing pipe.
    http://www.zoeller.com/zcopump/zcopdfdocs/FM1613.pdf
  10. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Thanks so much..I looked on my pump and it says SJE Vertical Master on the cord I'm not sure if this is a switch or the pump? My husband is one that will just call someone to do everything and I'm the one that tries to see if I can fix so.. please bear with me.

    Also I looked at the back up pump and was shocked at the cost. Since we will be moving I'm not sure if I want to put that much money out on a back up. Is there a less expensive pump that you recommend? We will be leaving the battery backup here for the new homeowners.

    I'm going to attempt to do all of this myself so if my questions get annoying I apologize!
  11. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    The SJE VerticalMaster is an adjustable pump switch. You should be able to raise it to the control level that you want, and adjust the pump-down range of the switch. See site at link below.

    http://www.sjerhombus.com/products/product_info.asp?id=370

    I would skip the backup pump. If the people who buy the house want one, they can pick what they want.
  12. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    The switch looks like it's connected to the pump. When I pull up on it the whole pump pulls up..I can't see how it's connected? Also the pump is of course hooked to the piece of PVC going outside. I would have thought the switch would have been connected to the pvc via a clamp but it is stuck somehow on the pump itself? Could they have glued it or something?
  13. carmel corn

    carmel corn New Member

    Messages:
    52
    Bob has provided excellent advice. The SJE Rhombus vertical master switch is commonly mounted on pumps as part of the factory setup. For example, Hydromatic pumps connect a 'shortened' version of the vertical master via a metal L-bracket to the pump body via single bolt. Do you know what kind of pump you have (brand/model)? Not knowing the kind of pump you have makes it difficult to say whether you can disconnect the switch from the pump body and re-attached to the main PVC line.

    If it's my house, I would try to find the version of the vertical master that Bob linked above. It has a different mounting bracket that enables you to attach it directly to the PVC line. I use their part number #1003590.

    I would suggest you call any local plumbing supply stores to see if they carry them. Just ask for the Parts Counter. They run about $50, give or take $10. I would advise against going to a Lowes or Home Depot, they typically will not stock this switch. These are very durable switches....the non-micro sensor versions can last 500,000 cycles.

    Once you have one, I would recommend mounting it such that the float turns the pump 'on' just at or below when the water meets the bottom of the black pipe. Ideally, you do not want water to accumulate in the drain tiles. Just make sure the "off" level is high enough that the pump actually turns off (I've seen people install them so low that the water level never drops low enough to disengage the pump motor).
  14. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    I'm trying to look inside the pit to see what model I have..I do know this..I have 2 cords it appears the switch is plugged into the pump. I'm going to look now I got numbers from the tag of the switch P/N 1011400.

    Also can I ask a dumb question..why would the water in the pit stop when it hit a certain level..when I unplugged the pump. Maybe I don't understand enough about water tables. I looked up water tables to get more info but I just don't get it.
  15. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    Also if I go and get another pump switch won't the first pump switch click on first? Or would I unplug that one?
  16. carmel corn

    carmel corn New Member

    Messages:
    52
    The reason why the water level stops rising is because the water is accumulating in the drain tiles (black pipe). The water in your pit rises to a point where the additional water flows into the drain tiles such that they fill up. At some point, the drain tiles will become saturated and the only place for additional water to go is back into your pit. In other words, you pit will eventually overflow, but not until the drain tiles are completely filled.

    The two cords you see are part of a piggyback switch that Bob described. If you do find a replacement switch, you can simply disconnect the pump motor from the back of the existing switch plug and re-insert it into the back of your new switch. Ideally, you would take the old switch out, but you can leave it as long as it is not in the "way" of your new switch.

    I believe the part number you referenced indicates that it is specific to the pump manufacturer. SJE Rhombus will creates separate part numbers for the different units their switches are used for. It is still a vertical master switch, but it's mounting bracket, shaft length, cord length, etc. is made to the specifications of your pump.

    Any luck locating a new switch?
    Last edited: Apr 7, 2008
  17. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    YIKES..the thought of it overflowing scares the daylights out of me. I'm beginning to wonder if I should just let it go and keep it cycling ever 2 minutes.

    I guess I should also let the county test for leaks b/c it could be that and just not groundwater...
  18. carmel corn

    carmel corn New Member

    Messages:
    52
    An active sump pit is a reality for many of us. It's just a question of being more proactive to manage the risk. Replacing your pump and switches before they wear out is a must, the question is how often. I've seen good pumps fail in 2 years (primarily because of faulty switches).

    If you are moving, you may consider replacing the whole pump switch combination. Normally, I do not recommend a Zoeller M-53 because of the limited switch life. The pump motor itself is very reliable. If you are definitely a short-timer, then the M-53 is a good economical choice that is used by many professionals. They can be purchased for $140 to $150 and you can reference a new sump pump in your sales brochure. Consider this vs. spending $50 on a new switch alone and a 4-year old pump. If I've misunderstood and you're staying, then I would recommend something different.
  19. theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co

    theslawsonfamily@yahoo.co New Member

    Messages:
    16
    I guess I just don't understand since my house was started in 03' and finished in 04' as to why we've never had issues until now. No we are moving. I ended up calling a friend of a friend who is a plumber. He is coming over tomorrow to see what we can do. We will probably get a new pump and a battery back up.

    I don't want water sitting in the tubing and causing damage elsewhere. I guess I misunderstood the whole water table thing. I thought the water level stopped b/c it was level with the water underground or something..idk I'm a total rookie.
  20. Bob NH

    Bob NH In the Trades

    Messages:
    3,317
    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Don't panic. You are in better shape than you know.

    The reason the water stops running in at the level it does, well below your basement floor, is that the ground-water level is below your basement floor. If you continually try to pump to the bottom of the pit as you were, you are trying to lower the ground water level around your house. That is a lot of water and it is continuously being replenished by water from the stream that is re-charging the ground water level. When you lower the ground-water level the rate of recharge increases

    The effect is that, The more you pump, the more there is to pump.

    You said it stops refilling when the basin is about 1/3 full, so it is probably 12" or so below your floor.

    I would set the switch so that it starts pumping if the water rises one inch above the current no-inflow level. That has three effects. First and most important, it protects your basement from rising water. Second, if the pump starts running, that is a warning that the water is rising and you can check on the percentage of ON time to determine how fast the water is coming in. Third, it keeps the pump from running needlessly when the ground-water is not a threat to your basement.

    If you install a backup pump, I would set that to start pumping if the water rises another inch above where the first one starts. That has two effects. First and most important, if the primary pump fails it pumps the water out to keep your basement dry. Second, it warns you that the the water is rising beyond the rate that the primary pump can keep up with.

    Since you are selling the house, I would not put in a battery-powered backup pump unless you believe it is going to be worth that much to the buyer. The buyer can always do that if they want it. The price I saw on the Aquanot II was about $700, but it will probably cost $1000 to $1500 if you hire it done.

    If it were me I would put in a second line-powered pump and a battery system with inverter, which I think I could do for about $500, but I am an engineer who likes to do such things. I also have a generator so the battery backup would only be necessary when nobody is at home.

    I don't know what has changed, or if you are only now noticing that the pump operates more in the wet season. Maybe the pump level switch was adjusted or the pump was set lower. In any case, you have not mentioned that you have had a problem with water in the basement. Everything seems to be under control, and there is no apparent threat to your basement. Your pump has a capacity of 10 times the rate of inflow that you have been experiencing. Keep an eye on things and you will be able to deal with any issues that arise.
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