Choosing a sump pump

We have had water come in our basement (under the walls and across the floor) whenever there are very heavy rains--rains that become the lead story on the six o'clock news due to lots of flooding in the area. We have had water come in on all four sides, and this has happened about four times in the eight years we have lived here. Our house was built without drain tiles or a sump and several contractors have suggested adding interior drain tile and a sump to take care of the problem(symptom). The house is a fifty year old ranch (about 1100 sq. ft.) and a drain tile test showed no tile. The grade around the house doesn't seem to be an issue. We are having the tile and sump work done in a little over a week (followed by radon abatement work since we are already ripping things apart).
I have purchased both a primary and battery backup sump pump to be installed in the sump and would like some feedback on my purchases. As a primary pump I picked up a Flotec FPSC4550A 3/4 hp (5150 GPH) at Home Depot. It comes with a limited lifetime warranty, is supposed to be virtually silent so it won't wake you at night, and be two times more energy efficient (I guess compared to their previous model).
As a backup I bought (on eBay) a Basement Watchdog "Big Dog" BWD-12-120C AC/DC Battery Back-up pump. (3500 GPH) that is supposed to run for 7.5 hours continuously or "for days" intermittently if the power is out. It has battery diagnostics so if the battery is old or has problems, your first warning of the problem is not the basement flooding.
The pump(s) would need to lift the water about 10 feet, and then it would go under the floor joists 15 to 18 feet before being discharged outside. I understand both the vertical and horizontal runs will reduce the effective GPH capacity. I really don't know how many GPH I might have to deal with (though I recall the water swirling around the floor drain the first time I discovered the problem!)
What I have tried to do is buy good quality pumps that should be able to handle anything that might happen (maybe "overkill", if that is what I have done, isn't necessarily a good thing?). But if we are going to spend the money for the drain tile installation, and then to re-finish the basement, I don't want to "go cheap" on the sump pumps.
Do my purchases make sense for my situation? Any comments, thoughts, or real-life experiences that can be related would be appreciated.
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mapleman wrote:

Well I would say your choices make sense. You can never cover 100% but what you have planed will cover near that. If I had any question it would be with the battery back up unit. I don't know your area, but it really depends on local conditions if a battery back up unit is worth while. It is not uncommon for power to go out at the time a lot of rain hits. How long the power may be out and how long heavy rain hits your area should be part of the decision. I don't have a back up as power outages are very rare in my area and don't often relate to high water.
One other factor that is as important as the practical statistical part and that is the human factor. If it makes you feel more secure, that in itself is worth a great deal.
--
Joseph Meehan

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My old house was built without anything. After it flooded every few months, they (I wouldn't buy it for another 10 years...) installed a sumppump with no drains. It worked a great deal better than nothing, but water would still come in away from the sump when it was really bad. I installed a second one in another corner. That took care of it. (Then I moved to a hill...)
Your problem doesn't seem a bad as mine, so it will probably be enough. Your pumps sound fine; just be sure you check the battery often. They lose capacity pretty fast; a couple years maybe. I bought a high efficiency pump that required drilling a little hole in the pipe. If yours needs that be sure to do it; otherwise they don't have enough power to open the check valve.
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mapleman wrote:

First issue is who told you that you dont have drain tiles? I hope it wasn't the same company that sells the tile systems? If so you should get a different company to evaluate that.
Second, you wont know what pump you need until you see your flow rate, and that will really take about a month to be sure. Sounds like you got a good pump but I doubt 3/4 hp will be all that silent. You may get away with a smaller one. Personally I got a 1/2 hp Wayne from Lowes, and my pump is on about every 4 minutes, emptying the pit. Lifting the water about 12 feet, and dumping it outside. This thing is beefy and more than does the job. but i got sand and mud occasionally so i wanted to be safe. But personally I would go back and get a 1/4 hp if I could as its kind of loud. I actually got it because it was the only one with a Lifetime warranty, and the one I had lived only 2 years before it gave up the ghost...
Also, your backup sump from ebay probably has a dead battery. Most battery operated things on ebay come with dead batteries, and the battery is 1/2 the cost usually...Anyway, did you consider the water powered sump pump? Our backup is powered by the municipal water system.
are you familiar with local ordinance? do you have a storm sewer that you can let the water drain into?
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
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Good questions and points, CL. Thanks for your post.
The person who told me I have no drain tile is the person who busted through the basement floor by the footer and dug looking for them. I was right there watching him. There were no tiles. Yes, it is the same guy who is going to install the tiles.
Regarding the flow rate, I don't have flow (that I know of anyhow) unless rain is heavy enough to come in the basement. That rarely happens (about once every two years) but when it does happen it makes a mess and is a real pain. A lot of houses on my street do not have sumps or tiles, and I think the theory when they were built was that the area has enough rock and sand that water will just flow through into the "depths of the earth" without causing a problem in basements. The county that I live in has many quarrys--if I wanted to put in a flagstone walk, I could literally get my material by digging it out of the back yard. I wouldn't be the first in the area to do that, either.
The back up pump comes without a battery. I bought the battery and acid at Home Depot. You add the acid to the battery when you are ready to install the battery, so (per the advertising on the box) your battery is fresh when you install it and there is no risk of it being old and weak when you bring it home. Plus, the backup system has a battery monitor so if the battery is low or can't hold a charge or has corroded terminals or is connected wrong, it will let you know. I know this is not foolproof and the diagnostics can possibly be faulty, but I think it is better than no diagnostics and finding out you have a problem when you need the back up pump to kick in and it can't or won't.
I did not consider the water powered pump very seriously as they didn't sound like they could handle much water. I am dealing with some unknowns here. A water powered one might be perfectly adequate, but then again maybe not. I'd rather not lie awake rainy nights worrying about it. I know the battery powered pump is not 100% perfect, but it seemed to be a better choice. Unless I want to take the belt and suspenders approach and make a water powered pump the THIRD pump. Hmmmm.
We have a sanitary sewer that we are not permitted to drain the sump into. The only way to drain into the storm sewer is to pump the water outside (via the sump pump) and let it find its way to the gutter and then it goes on its merry way to the storm sewer.
CL (dnoyeB) Gilbert wrote:

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You cannot tell if you have properly installed drain tiles by busting up the basement floor. During construction, drain tiles should have been installed around the OUTSIDE perimeter of the basement. These tiles should drain to a sump pump, storm drain or an area outside that is lower than the basement. Tiles installed under the floor around the inside perimeter are either installed as a secondary drainage system if the primary one may not be adequate or as an add-on system if there truly are no exterior tiles. Tiles outside the basement are the best arrangement, you want to remove the water before it gets under the floor or in the basement.

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mapleman wrote:

If you have tiles they would be on the outside of your foundation, so he would have to dig outside to see them. But the bleeder would lead inside into a set of pipes. Depending on your municipal setup, it would drain into the sanitary sewer or the storm sewer. So he could probably tell if he examined the sewer pipe as it leaves your basement and looked for some kind of backflow preventing joint. So its not totally out of the question that he could find out. But if other houses dont have drain tiles, its safe bet you dont either. But also if your municipality indeed does have a storm sewer, and you are high enough above it, you cant beat hooking directly into it, if its allowed.
My concern is that these guys push these systems. I had a guy try to sell me a system in my 3 year old house that had existing outside foundation drains. So you should definitely call your regular plumber or somebody you have built up trust with to be sure.

well you dont know what kind of flow you will have until you drop the pit and wait about a month. The drain system is really not about making it dry so much as it is about releaving hydrostatic pressure.
ok

sounds good.

well i fill the pit every 4 minutes and the water version gets the job done at least when it has to. Also, there is no question wen the main sump fails as the water system is quite loud :)

OK. well then this is all i can say;
1. Be DAMN SURE he puts a sock on those tiles! You dont want to be snaking the drains every 6 months to clean out the sand.
2. Make sure he puts cleanouts in appropriate places which means more than ONE! I have cleanouts at each bleeder which is 6 for me. So when you do have to snake, you can.
3. Make sure he uses Y joints and not T joints coming off the bleeders so when you do have to snake you can.
google for the document 'keepbasementdry2.pdf' its on a handymans website and i always refer people to that document as it explains most of what I just said with pictures too. www.misterfix-it.com
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
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wrote:

I had posted here in the past about how the Zoeller Home Guard water power pump saved my basement during an ice storm. But honestly, I have to back off on my recommendation. I'm now on my third ( yes, 3 ) one in two years. Even though I always went through the recommended routine of activating it every week, making sure that the pressure doesn't exceed the ratings, etc, the activation switch *ALWAYS* starts leaking like a sieve. It would blow out so much water after a while that it was pointless to keep it attached. Maybe other ones are more reliable - I don't know. But if it's a Zoeller, I'd recommend keeping one in a box until you need it, and then attach it. ;-)
- Rich
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user wrote:

yea mine leaks quite a bit. I never got any directions with it so I dont know if its working well or not. I do know it keeps the water down when my regular pump breaks.
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Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
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I have installed two water powered pumps and they have both been shoddy little POSs that I was concerned would fail, making the problem even worse. Maybe there are good ones out there, but I haven't seen them. The one battery backup I put in was much more substantial.
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I am pretty sure there are no outside tiles on this house. A couple other houses have had additions put on where they went down to the footers (on the outside) and there was no tile. And if there is tile (which is highly unlikely) it isn't helping enough when there are heavy rains.
When the house was built there was no sewer system. Household wastewater went out to a septic system which was abandoned when municipal sewer came through. The floor drain in the basement has no Palmer valve (backflow preventer) which is a further indication of no outside tile draining into the sewer system.
Thanks for the remarks on the water powered pumps. In theory they sound neat, but it sounds like in practice they aren't reliable.
To get back on topic, does anyone else have a comment or opinion on the sump pump arrangement I have selected?
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I will try to help you as much as I can.
A 1 1/2" gravity pipe, as in floor drain, if unobstructed will drain 18 gallons per minute. Most floor drains are 2" and I cant recall that number at the moment but it is probably at least twice the 1.5.
Your pump should have a reference table that will allow you to compute the diminished capacity. It should look something like this:
5150 gpm at zero head might be gph xxxx gpm at 1 foot head etcetera.
The head is the rise distance. I really can't recall the horizontal reduction factor but it is no where near as great.
My gut tells me that your 5150 pump will do the job unless you have a small stream entering your basement. But since you have to dig the sump hole anyway make it deep enough to have two pumps one over the other and if we are wrong you can add a second pump later.
Colbyt
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Colbyt wrote:

shes already going to have 2 pumps. the main one and the backup. the backup for when the main on fails and when the main one just cant get it done.
--
Respectfully,


CL Gilbert
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Our floor drain is 4 1/2 inches across--it looks to be fairly standard for what I have seen in this part of the country.
The Flotec handles 4100 gph at 10', the Basement Watchdog does 2200 gph at that head.
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