Sump Pumps (Part 3)

Well hey!!! Here I am posting 2 days in a row!!!

Today we (my son & I)finished excavating the remaining 4″ or so of clay/subsoil from our sump pit. It had accumulated a small amount of water overnight, which added to the weight of this subsoil. Anyway, after removing this remaining bit of subsoil (down to the 28″ depth), I placed the corrugated plastic sump barrel in it. BTW, I did drill alot of holes in the upper half of this barrel to allow for “under the floor” seepage into the barrel, which should help prevent seepage coming up thru the floor since it will now find its way to the sump pit.

Once the barrel was in place, I backfilled the outside area with 800 lbs of gravel, then topped this with 200 lb of concrete. My one regret was that I didn’t listen to my gut feelings on the concrete mix (which my contractor friends had suggested). My feeling was to use sand mix concrete or vinylcrete…and now I wish I had. The problem with the regular concrete mix is that you can’t feather out the edges to the existing floor for a nice smooth finish (because of the aggregate). With sand mix (or the expensive vinylcrete) you can feather it. Oh well, too late now. However, it is not really an issue in my 90 year old unfinished basement since aesthetics are not a highpoint feature of my basement.

I also ran my new designated electrical circuit for the sump pump. I already had an unused 20A breaker in my panel to utilize, so all I had to do was run the romex cable, install a box and a GFCI, make the connections, and test…and now I am good to go.

I will now let the concrete cure overnight. Then tomorrow I will install the pump and do the plumbing…and then report the results.


Sump Pit

post hole digger


spud bar in basement corner

Sump Pumps (Part 2)

The sump pump installation has begun. Did my usual prep work, researching, asking lots of questions, etc. Went to both Lowes & Home Depot and then went home and reviewed their sump pump models online. I later happened to be at a plumbing supply business doing some work and made some inquiries there. They said they only carried Zoeller brand. So, when I got back home I googled this and found out that this is the brand that most of the pros sell and install. Being a firm believer in quality and that you get what you pay for, I went back to this plumber and purchased a Zoeller. What surprised me was that “ceteris paribus” (“all else being equal”), this didn’t cost much more than the lesser quality brands at the big box stores.

So, now that I had done my research and purchased my sump pump, I proceeded to purchase the other things I needed for the installation. This included the check valve (from the plumber), schedule 40 PVC pipe & fittings (from Lowes), pea gravel & concrete mix (also from Lowes), and a few electrical supplies that I needed to run the dedicated circuit for the pump. Then I went to Home Depot to rent an electrical jack hammer. Having never used one of these, I opted for the 24 hour rental since I didn’t know how long it would take to do the job.

After getting further advice from Home Depot and a couple of contractors I know regarding using jack hammers, I proceeded. First, I marked the 32″x32″ square area on the basement floor. Then I used a cold chisel and small sledge hammer to score this perimeter. The contractors (and the guy at HD) told me that this would minimize cracking of the concrete outside the perimeter. The scoring process probably took about 20 minutes, and I am glad I did it because it really did eliminate unwanted cracking. After the scoring, I proceeded to use the jackhammer. I was very surprised how well it worked. Although it is heavy, you just have to steady and guide it while it does the work. All in all, the jackhammering process took about 20 minutes. (Probably the hardest part of the whole jackhammering process was carrying it down to the basement and then back up to return it).

Now comes the truly hard/laborious part. Excavating the broken concrete and the subsoil down to a depth of 28″ (the depth of my sump pit). What I did here was to utilize my “indentured servant” (IOW, my son). Obviously he gets free room and board, etc., and so with a little further enticement of some “$$”, he has been excavating away. At the rate it is going, I am estimating 4 hours for this part (pretty much in line with what others said it took them for this part).

So…that is where we are at them moment. Next (probably tomorrow) we will lay a gravel base, install the plastic pit container, place gravel all around it, re-concrete the floor around the pit, run the electric circuit, and intall/plumb the sump pump tying it into an underground drain line.

More later…

Sump Pumps

Background info: We live in a 100+ year old house. The old basement clay tile drain has been an issue for the entire 25 years we have lived here. It has a break in the line “somewhere out there”. This means somewhere 6 feet below the surface between the house and the ditch which is about 200′ away. And…it could have multiple breaks. Anyway, it has created problems over the years with periodic backing up into the basement. My solution has been to use a bladder attachment on a garden hose to periodically “somewhat” clear the drain. This has been a messy, smelly procedure that I have done on an irregular basis (roughly annually) for 25 years. Well, the other day it was not draining at all, and there was standing water in the basement (about 1 inch on half the floor). So…I did my usual bladder method of clearing the drain, which worked so well for 25 years. However this time the bladder attachment broke off in the drain somewhere, along with the hose coupling. So now, I have to really deal with the problem.

Alternative #1: Dig up the yard 6 feet down and hope to find the broken tile. Decided against this option because it would involve dealing with underground electric lines, destroying wife’s landscaping (I don’t want to die yet!), and who knows what else. Plus, there may be multiple breaks out there along with tree roots to deal with, etc.

Alternative #2: Leave the floor drain as it is, where it will somewhat work and install a sump pump/sump pit to deal with the real problem.

I have decided on the sump pump/sump pit option. This is something I have thought of doing for years but have put off. Now, because of the bladder stuck in the existing drain, I am “forced” to do what I should have done anyway.

I have always been one to postpone taking preventive measures until forced to do so. Instead my m/o has been to wait til a problem/crisis arises and then take temporary stop-gap measures to alleviate it…until next time. I would probably have saved myself alot of grief in alot of areas if I would just “bite the bullet” and “git-r-done” as soon as a problem is recognized.

One immediate benefit of this has been to force me to clean out the basement in preparation for digging/installing the sump. It also has “forced” me to clean out and repair the gutters and make sure the downspouts are functioning properly.

More to follow: (check back in a day or two!).