Very busy sump pump is flooding our yard and cycling constantly.

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Elana, Apr 16, 2019.

  1. Elana

    Elana New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2019
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    Hello all,

    We moved into this house about 10 months ago. We are located in the Chicago suburbs. Our lot size is not very big and our weather conditions are famously extreme. Our backyard is extremely muddy and soggy throughout the year. Truthfully, most of the mud (along with an intermittent "pond") is in our rear neighbor's yard, as they are downhill from us, but we still get a fair share of mud near our shared fence line. This is largely due to our sump pump. It runs every 10 minutes (now that we have it set to 13" before discharging, which is as high as we can set it without the water going above the inlet pipe). It takes less than 2 minutes for the basin to fill to 6". The basin is 24" in diameter and I think it is about 25-30" deep, though I haven't measured that.

    Different experts have proposed different solutions. One suggested a French drain that would span across our whole yard, in hopes of "capturing" the water on the way down the hill. Our plumber, however, said that the water would remain trapped in our yard that way and just continue to be recycled by the sump pump. He suggested re-routing the discharge pipe to the front of the house. This is unsightly, but we gave it a try... however, so much water was being pumped out front, onto the sidewalk, into the street, that we actually had a neighbor ring our bell at 9:30 at night, telling us he thought we had a burst water main.

    There are numerous small holes drilled into the sides of the sump basin. It seems like all that water is coming from those holes. I never see water coming in from the inlet pipe. I worry that my sump pump is acting more like a well, pumping water from deep underground (well below our basement slab) and moving it to the top of our lawn. I wonder if it would be prudent to cover the holes somehow, or replace the basin entirely, though that may be cost prohibitive.

    Our next door neighbor tells us that there didn't used to be a sump pump in our basement, but it flooded once over the course of 5 years, and so the DIYer who lived here before us installed the pump. A flood once after 5 years with no pump doesn't sound to me like the water table should be so excessively high that the pump needs to run all of the time.

    There are no storm drains near our house. The nearest one is several houses down the block, at the corner. Per village code, we are not allowed to extend discharge pipes more than 5 ft from our foundation line (which I understand is undersized, according to best practices). We are also not allowed to bury the discharge pipes, though I might be willing to bend that rule in my own backyard, to hitch it to a French drain, if that would solve the problem. Issue is, a French drain is very expensive, and I'd hate to spend the money if it won't help, as my plumber suggests it will be useless. If my village were more reasonable (they are not), I might request special permission to hitch up to the sanitary sewer line, which is also not allowed.

    What is our best course of action to solve this problem? Is there any more information I can provide? Thanks in advance for your assistance. We are at our wits' end with this and desperately want to solve the problem. Our immediate neighbors don't seem to have this issue, and we are not positioned at the bottom of a hill or anything like that.
     
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    I wonder if you should fill the lower holes with aluminum or stainless sheet metal screws. That would leave some water in the water table for your neighbors to pump.

    An electric outage will not be good.

    Consider contacting the village engineer for helpful advice. Seriously.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
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  4. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Apr 16, 2019
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    That might be the way we'll have to go, but I am deeply afraid that if we call the village they will require us to perform some $10,000+ fix that we won't be able to afford, and fine us until we do. I also don't know if they will assist until we've exhausted all of our other options, so I want to make sure we have mostly done that first. Unless you all think we've already tried everything that is reasonable for this problem at this point.
     
  5. wwhitney

    wwhitney New Member

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    Mar 17, 2019
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    What is the height difference between the bottom of the sump pump and the floor of the basement? If you unplug the sump pump, how long until the water fills the sump to, say, 6" below the basement floor? Perhaps the sump pump is simply at too low of an elevation.
     
  6. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Apr 16, 2019
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    I can check more precisely when I get home, but I would estimate the bottom of the basin is about 25-30" inches deep. My plumber didn't mention anything about it being excessively deep when he came out, but who knows. I don't know what would be involved if we had to raise it, but I imagine the inlet pipe would also need to be raised - would this overall be an impossible (or financially extravagant) undertaking?

    I've attached a couple of photos I took to show the water level at just about 13", the highest I can set it without it sitting in the inlet pipe. In case these are helpful.
     

    Attached Files:

  7. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    That does not make sense to me.
     
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  8. plumplum

    plumplum New Member

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    Apr 17, 2019
    Location:
    Illinois
    I came here expecting a sump pump related issue. However, I think this much beyond than that.
    Even though I'm not an expert - it sounds like the house is built without proper consideration of the land. A sump pump issue could be solved by picking a good sump pump available in the market. However, I doubt if that will do any good in this case.
    It is a very interesting thread. I plan to follow.
     
  9. plumplum

    plumplum New Member

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    I agree :)
     
  10. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Apr 16, 2019
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    Chicago Suburbs
    We did just replace the sump pump with one of the most expensive varieties available, since the existing one was pretty old, and obviously we have a lot of water. I believe it is the ION Max Deluxe Battery Backup Sump Pump with the ION Genesis Controller.

    EDIT: I'm home and just checked. The sump basin is actually only 18" in diameter (so says the lid on top) and 25" deep.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  11. wwhitney

    wwhitney New Member

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    Location:
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    My point is that if the natural water table is, say, 18" below the basement floor, and the goal of the sump pump is to keep the basement from flooding, then setting it to come on at 12" below the basement floor should accomplish that. Whereas setting it to come on at 24" below the basement floor will mean trying to lower the natural water table, with the pump running a lot more.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
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  12. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    In this case, the pump should be at the bottom of the pit. The water should turn on when the water is maybe 6 inches below the floor, and shut off a little before the pump would be sucking air.

    Now if the holes were up more at 6 and 8 inches below the floor level, the water would not be refilling the pit until it got within 8 inches of the floor. The problem with plugging all of the low holes is that you have to make sure that there are enough holes remaining to keep up.
     
  13. cacher_chick

    cacher_chick Test, Don't Guess!

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    The suggestions are correct. There is no reason to pump any water that is deeper than about 6" below the slab. Doing so is just wasting energy and adding to the mess on your lawn. You can raise the pump using a block or blocks in the pit, or you can use a switch that will allow you to change pumping range of the pump.
     
  14. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Apr 16, 2019
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    That speaks to my idea of the sump pump acting as a well. I have the ION Genesis Controller, so I can raise the discharge level digitally. However, right now it is set to discharge at 13", which is approximately 12" below the top of the basin. The problem is, if I raise it any higher, the water level will rise as high or higher than the inlet pipe, which I am told will cause water to sit near my foundation line and damage it.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2019
  15. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Sorry for the bump, but I am wondering what my next step should be. I saw someone else on a different site talk about using "marine epoxy" to seal the weep holes (or whatever we're calling them) because the epoxy will seal even under the water. However, I also read that the ground water can push the basin clear out of the floor if there aren't weep holes??? I'm not sure how scientific any of this is. I like the idea of giving the epoxy a try, since it seems like it could be a cheap and easy remedy. If not, I've already tried my plumber's suggestion (rerouting the discharge pipe), I've consulted a landscape designer (who suggested an expensive French drain that my plumber disparaged), so maybe now I'll have to try one of those basement waterproofing companies, or something else... while keeping the village as my last resort.
     
  16. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Cheaper than screws??? Those work under water quite nicely. I don't know how you would hold that marine epoxy in place while it hardens.

    Is the basin set into concrete? If so, it is not likely to float up.

    Sometimes villages have special funds to pay for part of your flooding cure.
     
  17. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Apr 16, 2019
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    I'm not sure if the holes are "regularly shaped" enough that a screw will cover them completely. That's why I thought just buttering some epoxy over them might be easier, and then I don't need to be as precise, either.

    I mean, the surrounding floor is concrete. I don't know what the basin is sitting in, however. It predates my time in this house.
     
  18. wwhitney

    wwhitney New Member

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    Mar 17, 2019
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    I don't see any upside to sealing the holes in the sump. You can set the sump pump to come on when the water level rises to the bottom of the foundation drain, or maybe 1" higher. At either elevation, water can come into the sump through the foundation drain (that's its job), so it doesn't matter if the sump has holes in it lower than that elevation.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
  19. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

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    Sep 25, 2013
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    Do you mean that you understand the argument, but disagree with it?
     
  20. Elana

    Elana New Member

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    Apr 16, 2019
    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    My observation is that water never comes in from the foundation drain, or at least it is not a significant contributor of water in the basin and my pump going off incessantly. If you sit there and watch (which I've done more than I care to), the sump pump discharges and then immediately fills back up with water from the drilled holes. It fills rapidly until about 6-8", when it slows down a little, but after 9 minutes it gets to my 13" maximum (12" below the basement floor) and discharges, without any additional water being provided by the foundation drain. 13" is right at the foundation drain, as shown in my photos in post #5, so I can't set it higher without the water level going above the foundation drain.
     
  21. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida Broad-Wing Hawk

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    What suburb are you in. Are you near the Fox River? What about your next door neighbors? Do they have basements with similar problems? A french drain for the rear yard water issue wont help unless you have a way for it to drain and right now your pump is at its limit. I would still call your local village engineering dept. These engineer's are usually are very receptive I have found always eager to help. You don't have to give out your name and address. I'm sure that they know the water table levels and any unground springs if any exist.
     
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