A River Runs Through It

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On 21 Mar 2007 18:36:35 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@sme-online.com wrote:
I agreed with everything you said prior to this point.

Absolutely. In the townhouse next to me, someone rerouted the output to the house drain (and neatly cemented the hole where the output pipe had been). This means that if the sewer backs up, the sump pump will pump that water into the drain which goes to the sewer which is backing up. And that's a real possibility with my house and the three next to it, which are the lowest in the n'hood, and which do flood every few years when rain fills the stream which overflows into the sewers and fills them. And I told the new owner at least 5 years ago about all this, and he still hasn't done anything.
Oh, you're probably referring to the fact that even if this doesn't happen, it overloads the sewer and is likely illegal too. That's a good reason also.

This why I posted. Have you tried this? The volume out of my pump far exceeds what I believe can flow through a garden hose, even the wider ones. Even a short length of such narrow hose (compared to the 2 or 1 1/2 inch pipe the pump takes) would restrict flow, I'm sure, and even more if the hose were longer. My plastic pipe feeds into a buried 4 inch pipe (and ftr that isn't coupled on but fits loosely in case, I think, the buried pipe collapses or is clogged.)

Yeah, if I had a backup that would be good -- I plan to put one in -- and it makes sense and be easier to make the first and only pump one that has battery backup. Get the kind that runs on 110 if is there, and uses the battery if the 110 fails. Some places 110 is more likely to fail at the same time there is more flooding, altough that has never happened to me, yet.)
(Although then of course comes the question whether to use battry backup that requires maainenance, or that water powered thing whose name I have forgotten. IIRC they are in total about the same price. The water powered is harder to install but requires no maintenance, and no bulky battery once it is in. As long as one pays the water bill and doesn't get his water disconnected. That' a lot more rare than even getting gas or phone disconnected, right?)

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cut out a square with a circular saw, dug a pit, and worked a plastic basin in. A lot of work, but nothing too difficult. The dust was HORRIBLE. I had him plumb it to the sanitary sewer, which I later found out is illegal; but it only came on when the first pump was overwhelmed, so it didn't amount to much.
Since you obviously don't have drain tiles, getting one corner dry may not do much for the other corners; which is why I had the problem. My house originally had no sump or tiles, but they put a sump in after it flooded 3 times the first year (I found this out after calling the original owner when I started having problems.)
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I forgot about dust. Wear a good dust maak and probably keep the vacuum running all the time, to clean the air. If there were a window, I'd recommend a fan blowing out a window. (I did this when I sanded my floor, with an old 14 inch fan from the trash. It ran all day with no problem, and then failed just as I was about to turn it off.)

i"m not in a position to judge, and the OP's basement might never get that wet, buy this sounds like an advantage over a regular pump and a backup, as opposed to the single pump I just recommended. My pump has only been overwhelmed once in 28 years, but it would sure have been nice to have two pumps at that time. (Or a bigger first pump. I suppose they sold one but I only looked for the same size I had since it had worked fine for the first 15 years. Rusted through then but the new ones have plastic pipe at the water level and I think will last 2 or 3 times as long.)

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Ahh the amount of dust from cutting concrete is WAY WORSE than sanding, jackhammer better choice.
dust is abrasive, lightweight, goes into cloud might get in furnace etc.
plus if you jackhammer the repaired concrete is way less likely to crack.
thew nice smooth edge of masonary blade equals poor adhesion.:(
ideally the underground drain runs to day light somewhere. gravity tends to be reliable. even if its a lot of digging you will appreciate knowing your sump cant fail. plus a 4 inch PVC line can carry way more water than a backup sump pump
if you must go pump, do TWO, with seperate outlets, completely seperate everything.
perhaps the primary draind into a downspout line?
thake the backup thru the wall and let it spray out of side of home if the water will run away downhill.
having just one pump or pump sharing lines etc leaves you more open to failure.........
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you're done. At least that's the way it is in my field stone basement. I don't know why you would need a "well", in my basement the pump sits by the stairs, which is the lowest point of the basement, so as the water runs in though the walls, in runs down to the pump. The pump only comes on when it senses it's sitting in water, and voila, dry basement. It's a total no-brainer.
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<h> wrote in message

What if the basement floor, like most, is pretty flat and has no low spot? The no brainer is to have a sump, otherwise the floor needs a couple of inches of water before the pump starts.
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Agreed, but my 18th century basement floor is SO not level, and I think that's the case with most field stone foundation basements. I still can't believe some idiot poured a concrete floor for mine, sometime in the early 1900s, I'd guess. It would have been MUCH better to have left it dirt, as it is in the root cellar portion of the basement. The root cellar gets wet, but the water soaks right into the floor. Problem solved.
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OK, maybe there's something I don't get (and an old fieldstone foundation probably drives a different set of options than my block foundation...), but, isn't the basement wet when the water is flowing towards the place where the sump pump is? So, it's not really a complmete dry basement solution.
Banty
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On Wed, 21 Mar 2007 21:56:11 GMT, "Donna"

IMHO,
Installing a sump pump can be done by average handy people. However, this is very conditional. Depends on your situation, and since sump pumps are a small part of a larger 'dry basement' solution, you should have an 'expert' evaluate your situation. Please verify they are 'experts' first. :D
tom @ www.MeetANewFriend.com
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You guys are awesome. What a wealth of information!
Since so many of you have asked for additional info, I'll respond en mass. The basement is fieldstone, painted with drylok. This keeps the bulk of the basement dry (although in spots it needs to be repointed, which is another "how do I do it" question, which I'll pose once the more pressing problem has been solved.
The house is 80 or 90 years old. The floor is poured cement over the original dirt floor. The basement is in two rooms - one finished as above, and sculpted so that water runs to the sides of the room, and then into a pipe exiting the house. I think this is called a French drain? Whatever it's called, it works beautifully.
The water comes into the smaller unfinished room. It comes in through two places 1) under the door from the garage (which is below the surface of the floor. From the garage, you go down some cement stairs to the basement door. Water pools in the stairwell when the water tables are high, and runs under the door. I'm thinking a better door would fix this problem. The second place water pours in is through the original house's coal chute, which doesn't seem to ever have been sealed over. Water comes in through a small passageway (I hate to say chimney - it looks like a cross between a pipe and a chimney) which behind the cement wall, and opens into the basement, at a low spot. I have been assuming that this is where the original coal furnace lived, originally. From the outside, it's all been turfed over, but when I was landscaping last year, i uncovered what looks like a 3x5 by 8foot deep coal chute, filled with coal and dirt, then tarped over, and turfed over. It's amazing that more water doesn't get in, frankly.
I hope that is enough information. It's kind of a weird set up, as you can see.
Having read all of your thoughtful posts, it looks an awful lot like the job of installing a well is going to be beyond my abilities. It also looks like it might be prohibitively expensive, unless the "put a sump pump in the low spot and run a hose out the door" idea is feasible. Is it?
The solution seems to be to excavate the coal chute (But with what? I tried to dig it out last year, and the fist-sized lumps of coal make it impossible to do by hand. The location (in the corner of the house, flush with the walls) makes it impossible to get a piece of earthmoving equipment in there). I can't tell what the walls of the chute are made of -- they could be cement, or they could be dirt. Or metal. Or some combination of all three. Would excavating it by hand (litterally digging at it with a trowel) a couple of feet down and pouring cement seal it off do you think?
I'm kind of baffled by the whole situation, which is why it has continued for the three years since we bought the house. As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Grateful thanks,
Donna
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Thank you Donna for confirming my original answer. What you ask is easily doable and better than a wet floor every time!! Just go out and buy a pump. Many come with an adaptor for a garden hose. A permanent install would likley use poly pipe and you can get a better flow with a bigger pipe.

By all means put your energy into eliminating the source of the problem!! That should always be where you put your energy first. I'm sorry I don't have a solution for you without seeing the property but here are some ideas. Just thinkin out loud, OK?
Excavate and seal the old coal shute permanently where it exits the ground and inside the house both. Water coming in from the driveway and garage would have to be diverted at the street to keep it from coming in. Where I live we use a culvert to keep water from flowing down the driveway. If you are in a town then you may not have that option. A re-constructed driveway might possible divert the water elswhere.
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On Thu, 22 Mar 2007 19:27:35 GMT, "Donna"

Well, in that case, i have no idea how thick the cement is, especially if the ceiling was low to begin with.

The bottom of the door is below the surface of the floor? Regardless, you might be able to channel that water away before it gets under the door, or right after it does.
We had a double overhead garage door that let water into the garage, at one end of the door, even though it was pretty flat everywhere (no hill outside to cause it run in. It was just water spreading out) and in high school I wanted to put a rubber gasket under the door, but at the same time sort of doubted that would be enough. Or that it would lift up the door and let water in somewhere else. So I never did anything, but it didn't cause the problems yours is causing.

Do something about these two places and maybe you wont' need the sump pump. If you're not going to need the sump pump, don't drill a hole in the floor to find out how thick the cement is, or water will get in through the hole.

I think the idea was that the low spot was low enough that the sump pump could work while on the surface of the floor. I don't know how deep the water has to be before the sump pump starts to pick it up. Someoen said two inches. You could find out somewhere.
I have an image that your low spot is only 2 or 3 inches lower than the rest of the floor and only 3 to 4 feet across. You havent' said, so that's my image. If that is the case, the sump pump will run for 4 or 5 seconds and remove all the water around it, and then wait until more gathers. Wouldn't that mean that parts of the rest of the floor are also wet. Maybe they dry out faster after the rain stops, so that part of the floor doesn't bother you.
I have the same issue when my basement "floods", which is usually only a quarter inch or less. I use a wet dry vac and I just use the tube, no attachment, and it will vacuum leaving less than a tenth of millimeter, maybe even getting the water out of the pores in the cement, and then I have to move the vacuum tube somehwere else or wait until the water slowly gathers at the first place. I can identify a low space in my floor too, maybe a quarter inch low at most, and putting the hose there doesn't work any better than anywhere else except when I'm almost done.

I can't picture this area, but there is bound to be a way to dig it out, or seal it without digging it out without earth moving equipment. There are millions? of coal chutes that have been sealed after they aren't used, maybe just with a piece of wood or metal plate screwed on** and the edges caulked, but again, I have no real image of the situation in my head.
**Or some sheet metal formed into a box cover, by folding at the corners, sort of like wrapping paper is wrapped around a gift box. Again, I have no image.
ARen't you losing heat through this 12 x 12 inch hole? Again, my image of a coal chute.

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wrote:

Actually, the low spot is where the coal chute enters, and the water gathers. Sealing the chute seems to be the first step, *then* if that doesn't solve the water problem (along with repairing the door or putting a lip on the outside edge to keep water from running under the door. Gee, can't wait to trip over that coming into the basement. :)

I can't really describe it -- it was such a bear to make *any* progress excavating it by hand, that I never was able to make enough headway to be certain about what i was looking at. What I really need is something like an really durable Archemedes Screw <insert off-color joke of your choice here> to get the coal and dirt and rocks out of the hole. A small backhoe won't do it. Nothing I can seem to rent is small enough and stable enough to get into that corner and dig that coal out.

Yes, lots. I'm less concerned with that than with the water draining into the basement room, though. One problem at a time. :)
Donna
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It's funny you asked for a screw because there is something like that called an auger and it is indeed shaped like a screw. They are used to drill holes of any diameter in soil for fence posts and pole buildings. The large ones can be mounted to a machine (Bobcat). One and two person models are also available. Ice fishermen use the small ones to drill through the ice. All can be rented. Better to have a backhoe.
It may be possible for you to auger a hole as close as you can get or maybe several holes. Although you would have to finish the dig by hand it it would at least get the work started anyway. Four to six feet is the maximum depth for the augers I have seen. Better to have a backhoe.
If you have to excavate the coal chute anyway then it should be possible for the sump line to exit the house in the same ditch. The excavation for the sump line can far exceed the size of the sump it can be a big deal.
If you can extend the ditch to where the sump line can exit the soil then problem solved. Best practice would have the ditch go dowhill from where it exits the house but depending on your situation you might be able to cheat on this.
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down, open the handles, the blades pinch together and you lift out the load. That is a job for someone used to hard work as it gets you in the back rapidly.
Harry K
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