Sump pumps in Dirt crawlspace and maintenance/questions

Discussion in 'Pumps and Tanks Well Forum & Blog' started by Arla, Apr 13, 2009.

  1. Arla

    Arla New Member

    Right now I have a sump pump in my dirt crawlspace, while it does HELP with the water under the house problem, I honestly think it was installed by a complete amateur (or a cowboy if you prefer the term).

    A few of the things that I know are wrong with it

    1. The earth around the pump appears to be corroding (presumably getting washed into the basin and either settling there as sediment, or being pumped out)
    2. The basin itself seems fairly small, not measured it yet, but it's a small food barrel (based on a quick web search, I think it's a 5 gallon pickle bucket) that my next door neighbor has provided me with one of since then (that's how I know what it is, was installed before I ever brought the house)
    3. No check valve on the output pipe (or maybe there is and it's not working, or in the wrong place) so when the pump turns off the basin quickly half-fills with water again (presumably coming back down the pipe).
    4. The outlet seems to go directly into the sewer system, this is against code and presumably not a desperately good idea (for various and sundry reasons).

    So, what I'd like to do is try to remedy some of this to make this a more workable solution, without spending an utter fortune (if I have to spend a fortune I might as well get a drainage expert to come and actually make it all work rather better and even perhaps eliminate the need for the sump pump altogether).

    So onto the questions and what I'm hoping/planning to do

    1. Any easy way to get the pump out of the basin, I'm not sure how they are normally connected to the output pipe, but it would be nice to unattach it

    2. Clean the basin (now we're getting towards the dry season here in CA)
    3. Add a check valve at, what I believe, is the right point (i.e right as the water comes out of the pump, before the vertical pipe starts)
    4. Look at changing where the water goes so that instead of feeding into the sewer system it comes out past our front lawn (the lowest point of the house), my big problem with this is that I assume it's going to cost quite a bit to have pipe drilled through the pavement, wondering if I have other options (I could just dump the water under out hedge at the front of the house, but I'm wondering if that'll cause other issues
    5. Fill the ever-increasing pit around the basin with something, I believe gravel (small to add volume, but large enough not to go through the holes and into the basin.
    6. Perhaps replace the basic if it's too small with a larger one (although as of now I've not actually noticed any real problems with the size of the basin, takes a while between the pump going off for it to go back on again, although if I add gravel around the basin this may get worse since the "overflow" area outside the basin will be much smaller.

    Any advice greatly appreciated
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2009
  2. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Land of Cheese
    How to pull the pump out depends on what type of pipe is hooked to it. If it's PVC the pipe will probably have to be cut and spiced back together to reinstall, unless there is already a coupling where it can be taken apart.

    The check valve should be installed right above the pump.

    I'm not sure what you mean about drilling through pavement? In a wood-framed house, the pipe exits above the sill plate, just underneath the first floor. Ideally it will exit on the downhill side of the house and then be piped at least 20 feet away from the foundation.

    The area around the outside of the basin should be backfilled with crushed gravel. I also suggest wrapping the basin with landscaping cloth before you backfill, as this will act as a filter to keep dirt out of the basin.
  3. Arla

    Arla New Member

    Thanks for the info cacher chick, will probably do as much investigation as I can WITHOUT cutting any piping, not sure on my skills at putting it back together and having it work right :p

    What I mean't about cutting through pavement, should have really been sidewalk, sorry, using English terms, I forget sometimes that pavement means a different thing in the US. To get 20 feet from the house it's going into the road, so would need to probably channel it through the front garden, then through the sidewalk and into the road, that's going to get expensive since I'm sure I'll need lots of permits to do the cutting work, and need to hire someone to come dig it out (plus avoid any incoming things like the incoming water main).

    Will see where it all ends up, I may just start with the simple stuff that I can and leave it attached to the sewer for now, and then expand the project as I find I have money to actually do the work properly.

    Presumably you would recommend doing a larger sump basin than the 5 gallon bucket that's there right now? Any recommendations on that front, I've been doing some research online, but a lot seem to have a big hole in the side, that I'm not entirely sure what it's for.
  4. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

    Land of Cheese
    A lot depends on the circumstances of location-- around here most people's sump pumps only run in the spring after the snow has melted and the ground is saturated with water. Many just run a hose across the top of their lawn for a few weeks until things dry out.

    At my house I dug a 50 foot long trench about 8" wide X 18" deep and buried 4" PVC pipe that slopes away from the house so the water runs out to the ditch between my property and the road. I worked at it just 2-3 hours a day, so it took about 10 days to do the whole job. Working with PVC pipe is pretty easy and most home improvement books cover it well enough.

    If the sidewalk is only 3 feet wide or so it is usually more efficient to tunnel under it than have to cut it out and fill it back in.

    I won't say much about your basin, it works. If the pump is cycling on and off in short bursts, then it is too small.
  5. Arla

    Arla New Member


    Once again, thanks for the valuable information and ideas, around here (Northern CA) only really rains from December through April (at least in the past 2 years that I've owned a house here) so a hose actually might be a workable idea, possibly put PVC pipe out of the crawlspace and then put a hose out from there or something, will have to think about it some more over the next few months.

    I can't really dig a ditch because the furthest I can get is down to my front lawn, after that there is probably a 3 foot sidewalk, followed by a 4-5 foot concrete bed (think it was a lawn at one point but was then concereted over) then the curb, and then the road, tunneling under that lot is not going to be an option, at least not for me by hand.

    I think I may run into issues with basin size after backfilling with gravel, if you can imagine that my current basin is more funnel shaped than barrel shaped, the bottom of the funnel is the first 6-8 inchs of the actual basin, then, the "funnel" part is where the soil has all erroded (and again, I'm assuming that's what has happened, since I didn't have it put in, it's quite a bit of guesswork) so this actually creates a much larger basin, than the actual plastic bucket, if I fill that with gravel, I have a feeling it'll cycle much quicker since it'll cycle closer to "as the bucket fills" rather than the current small pond it has to fill.

    Actually, your hose idea has given me a thought because I was wondering if I could manage to hook this upto a "rain barrel" anyway, so maybe I can just have a hose and do it with that, might work well.
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