Sump drainage - is this a problem? How to fix?


OK, I think something is wrong with the way my sump drains and I'm looking for confirmation and ideas on how to fix it.
So my pump is mounted at the bottom of the well, with the float triggering before the waterline gets up to the pipes from which the drain tiles drain into the well. (all seems correct there so far). My problem is that, as soon as the pump triggers and drains the well, I see maybe 50% of that amount of water drain immediately back thru the tiles (NOT back down the ejection pipe). This is not normal, is it?
My first assumption is that the drainage pipe is broken and maybe most of the water is leaking back into the foundation. But how would it make it so quickly from the pipe back into the drain tiles and into the well? I'm talking maybe a second or so delay between the ejection starting and the water flowing back in the well thru the drainage pipes. It doesn't make sense to me, so I must be missing something.
I know everyone's first suggestion would be - check the drainage to ensure the pipe is intact. I'd LOVE to, trust me. Problem is that its under my deck, which is too low to be accesable. Peeking under there, I can see the pipe come out of the house and to into a 5 or 6" diameter pipe going vertically into the ground about 2 feet from the house. My assumption is that it goes to a drain tile or some farther place in the yard from there, but I have no way to confirm this.
So my questions are - what is likely causing the water to rush back in so quickly thru the tiles, is that unusual / a concern, and how should I go about fixing it if required?
Any input would be appreciated. This thing is making me super nervous, though we've yet to have a flood in the year we've lived in this 28 year-old house.
Jeff
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On 21 Mar 2007 12:32:40 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I've been trying to figure out why only a second or two after I drink some water, I have to pee. Doesn't it hsve to go into the blood stream and then the kidneys and bladder first?
Actually I'm not positive what is happening at your house, but I think the same principle applies. If your sump is filling, there's water in the dirt. More water falls on top and pushes the water at the bottom of the dirt out, into the sump.
It's sort of like the speed of electricity, which is the speed of light. (or the speed of light through copper, whatever that means)
I used to ask myself, are there electrons racing through the wire at the speed of light? Seemed hard to believe. But what it is is the impulse. If you apply a voltage at one end of the wire, the voltage reaches the other end at the speed of light. But none of the electrons move more than a teeny bit. But while one is moving, they all are.
Or imagine a bunch of marbles, in a channel so they don't move out of a straight line. Say the channel is a mile long, and it's full of marbles, and they are all touching the ones next to them. If you push the marble at one end, the marble at the other end, a mile away, moves immediately, or almost so. EVen though each marble isn't moving very fast or very far.
At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

If it gets too bad, I guess your sump pump won't work at all, even though it will seem to be working.

This may nevef happen to you,but my pipe isn't leaking and it happened to me. I lived here for 22 years, and one time it rained so much that the sump overflowed, even the pump was going full blast. Even though part way into it I was there watching, there was almost nothing I could do. I didn't have a way to pump any more water. I couldn't stop it with my hands. I just noted that it had almost stopped raining, and it couldn't keep going too long after that.
(I could have plugged in the wet-dry vac and start vacuuming, but I get lethargic in this kind of crisis. And the water had stopped advancing, so I figured that everything that would get wet, had gotten wet already.)

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Can you stick a digital camera under there and get a better look at it?
Even better look when the pump is running and see if you can see water spraying out somewhere on the pipe run. Those sump pumps usually discharge with quite a bit of force. A big leak might be visable.

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On Mar 21, 2:32 pm, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Well, it can be.
The drain tiles around the house hold a fair amount of water, while the sump itself holds very little. When you pump the sump dry, there might still be a lot of water in the tiles that finds its way immediately into the sump.
To verify this, hold the float up to force the pump to run for a while to see if the flow from the drain tiles diminishes.
You can tweak the floats to take this into account to some degree. You will have the pump shut down when the sump appears to be quite full, but the drain tile "reservoir" will in fact be mostly empty.
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That's not what's going on. Back up and re-read the original post: he said the pump kicks on before the water ever rises up that high -- therefore, what's coming back into the sump is the water he just pumped out.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Mar 22, 7:29 am, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

I quoted it.
It tells me that the floats are set so that the pump comes on before the sump is full.
I presume his "back thru" means into the sump.
He asserts also that it's NOT coming back down the discharge pipe but if he's so sure about the 50% number, I wonder. Could it be there's no check valve in the discharge?
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Yes, I can see that you quoted it. I can also see that you didn't read, or didn't understand, what you quoted.

It should tell you something else, too.

If the water level in the sump is below the tiles, it's going to be immediately obvious at a glance where the surge is coming from.

--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Yep, my assumptions too, although the type of pump and float are not really relevant to the problem.

You're failing to understand the significance of this fact.

I'm quite confident that the OP's pump cycles a lot, even *without* any significant inflow -- because he's pumping the same water over and over and over.

What I mean is this: since the water level in the sump never rises to the level of the drainage tiles, it is _completely_impossible_ that there is any significant amount of water stored in the tiles.
And *that* means that when he sees a sudden inrush of water into the sump pit just after his pump shuts off, the water that's coming in is the same water that it just pumped out.
His discharge pipe is probably broken, or a fitting came apart, just outside the foundation.
--
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Mar 22, 5:07 pm, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Well, I sure hope the OP comes back with a full report after all this. 8-)
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On Wed, 21 Mar 2007 12:32:40 -0700, fwithers07 wrote:

I want to be clear here. Are you saying that the water flows in through the drain tiles at a certain rate. Then after the pump kicks on, a few seconds later water is flowing through the drain tiles at a much faster rate? Which you think is the exhaust water flowing back in???
If so, I would get a pitcher and fill it with water and food coloring. A heavy dose of coloring. Then dump it into the pit. Then watch what color comes back in through the tiles.
Then you know for sure.
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wrote:

It is simple really, I cannot imagine anyone stupid enough to intentionally drain a sump pump back into the foundation weeping pipes so that the water just runs in a circle. So there most likely is a pipe that drains away from where it comes out the wall. This will drain to some location away from your house but the outlet may be plugged. The pipe near the foundation may be sheared off, split or detatched allowing the water to short circuit back to the sump.

Often repairs are not easy and require a lot of changes and tearing down to just get to the problem. That is the way it always seems to work, so this may be an opportunity to make any repairs or upgrades to your deck. If there is a way to bypass the deck you may want to look into the possibility. At least see which is the least work.

The disaster is the water is just running in circles, with possibly some going elswhere, and the bulk returning through the foundation drainage. In a major storm, which happens more often now than before, the pump will not be able to accommodate the volume of water if most of it simple runs back into the sump. The result will be a flood, maybe small, possibly major.

I am certain this has not been happening for the past 28 years, something has happened to the discharge pipe under the deck that needs fixing. Possibly it started small and now is leaking much more water. Look into it.

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The disaster waiting to happen isn't just that -- it's also the fact that the pump is running far more than it should, and may give out without warning, leaving him with *no* pump, when even a modest rainfall could leave him with a flooded basement. Hence my earlier advice to get a backup pump.
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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