What is this? Can I remove it from my basement bathroom floor?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by danielpschneider, Feb 11, 2014.

  1. danielpschneider

    danielpschneider New Member

    Messages:
    2
    Location:
    IL
    I would really appreciate anyone telling me what this contraption is sticking out of my basement bathroom floor. I think it is an old sub pump, but I am not sure. If you know what it is can you let me know if I can remove it from the floor? Thank You!

    br1 (2).jpg br2.jpg br3-1 (2).jpg
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    IL
    Sure is impressive looking. I don't know what it is. But if I were to guess, I would go with a gate valve to isolate your basement drains and toilet from the sewer in case of sewer backup.

    I am pretty sure it is not a pump.
  3. Caduceus

    Caduceus Master Plumber

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    gate valve.jpg That is the top of a gate valve. I couldn't guess why it would be in your basement. They are usually seen in commercial settings for under ground water services and mains larger than 2".
    It is close to the cast iron stack and may be used as a gate valve for stopping storm water in the rain leaders from entering the sewer, but that's just a guess. You may want to call a plumber for a camera service through the clean out by the stack and by pulling the toilet and looking into the drains before you continue with your bathroom project and to survey the area for the purpose of the valve.
    It would be an expensive valve for sewer drainage isolation and cheaper alternatives were available years ago so just be sure there isn't a pressurized main for utilities (gas or water) going through your basement before messing with it.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  4. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    It is a "close in the case of a backup flood" manual "backwater valve". Almost useless and probably won't turn, or seal, anyway after all these years of inactivity. IF you have never used it, then your area may not be subjected to periodic backflows, but as soon as you remove it, it will probably happen.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    quote; just be sure there isn't a pressurized main for utilities (gas or water) going through your basement

    IF that were the case, he should leave the building, because they NEVER go through any building.
  6. Caduceus

    Caduceus Master Plumber

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    As my post suggested, I agree with Reach4 (and you) that it seems to be designed as a prevention method for back ups, but without being there to look over the grounds and not knowing what type of structure it is (basement of commercial building, rowhouse, etc. located in an urban area) it would be wise to have an assessment done before removing it or proceeding with an apparent bathroom remodel.
    Never say never.
    Not a cause for alarm, but you never know unless it is investigated.

    I found a 10" clay trap for a common sewer in a row house basement a few years ago. It picked up the five adjoining buildings and a former jail that had been demo'd decades earlier. In the back of the basement was a small pit with a 4" gate valve that was for the former jail, but the line was still live and capped somewhere several yards away from the property.

    So, as I said. Never say never, and without being at the location look at all possibilities and options. But it probably is for drainage control.
    If you have combination storm/sewage mains in your area, a plumber may be able to give you options on installing a new and accessible back water valve.
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2014
  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    2,669
    Location:
    IL
    I would try closing the valve. If it works, test by using the sink until water starts to rise somewhere. Then open the valve, and expect the water to recede. I think there is a very good chance it will work. Whoever installed that was motivated. You don't want to wait to get similarly motivated. Gate valves seem robust to me, but I am not speaking from experience.

    If this works, it could be worth keeping and working around. If practical, put an alarm at the spot the water rose during your test. If that is a floor drain, then that is easy . When you hear the alarm, close the valve.

    Make friends with a neighbor or 2 downhill, and ask them to phone you if there is ever a sewer backup.

    Avoiding other people's sewage backing up is good. Doing it without a first hand negative experience is better.

    If you want to replace the , you would dig the area up. Put in a vented sewage pit with a grinder pump, and let he basement pipe only empty into the pit. Pump the sewage up to basement ceiling and join the plumbing there. Alternatively, have the sewage go through a new hole maybe 4 feet up in the basement wall, and have that sewage join the sewer line outside. If you do that and pipe all upstairs sewers to be gravity feed via the higher exit point, you would have the classic "overhead sewers". That is the best way to deal with sewers that occasionally back up.

    Your city might contribute significantly toward overhead sewer installation.
  8. Caduceus

    Caduceus Master Plumber

    Messages:
    136
    Location:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Like I said, have it checked out by a plumber. If you decide to do as Reach4 suggested, have the number of a plumber handy.
  9. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Messages:
    27,048
    Location:
    Cave Creek, Arizona
    On a similar note. Many years ago they remodeled and expanded a grocery store. In the process the disconnected from a 4" water line and installed a 6" one for the fire system. Years later, the city was testing their valves and found one that was closed so they opened it. There was a clerk working in the freezer when he noticed the roof was getting closer to his head. He ran outside yelling that the building was falling down. When they discontinued the 4" line, the just turned off the valve, but did not cap the line. When it was opened it flooded the space under the slab floor then lifted it up about 24". It washed sand up through the cracks it made and the sand flowed into the floor drains under all the refrigerated boxes. They had to shut the store down for a couple of weeks to flush the sand out of the drains and repair the floor. A few years later, I had to make an opening in the floor to do some work, and the sand/gravel which was originally supporting the floor was 36" below the floor. Everything was being supported by the columns spaced every 20' in each direction.
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