Sump Pump problem

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A little background...
I bought my house with a full finished basement in 2004. A sump pump is located in the boiler room and is there for the toilet, sink and shower in the basement bathroom We never used that bathroom, except for a few months back in 2008 when we were remodeling the main floor bathroom. It always worked fine and would kick on when we showered. I havent used it since. A while back, I wanted to hear it work so I ran the sink, shower, flushed a few times and it never went on. I thought that maybe the level was so low from non use that it didnt fill high enough to turn itself on.
I am now selling my house and an engineer was here today and told me the sump pump does not work. The pump has two wires coming from the big round base. It was plugged into the wall by one of the plugs, and the other plug was connected to the back of that plug so that it only used one outlet. After he left, I decided to put each plug into its own outlet and it went on. I heard the pump and the water. The problem is that it never stops, even after 5 hours. I hear a loud hum coming from the ground and it sounds like a washer machine with water being swished around. Does anyone have any idea what it is doing? I know absolutely nothing about these things. Thanks.
Here is a link to a picture in case that helps:
http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee225/trusso11783/pump.jpg
Tony
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I have a little sump pump problem. I plan on calling in help, but first I would like to get a little familiar with what I have.
The link below shows a picture of my system. I am wondering about the pipe with the clear connection that is circled in red.
Is this pipe usually out going or incoming water?
The clear plastic coupling is leaking. I am wondering why that pipe would be filled right now, as we have had a pretty dry spring here in the Chicago area.
Is it normal for this pipe to have water in it all the time?
Thank you
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Tony wrote:

The plug with the male and female ends on it is hooked to the float switch in the pit. This is what cycles the pump. The one with the male ends is hooked directly to the pump. When you plugged them both into individual outlets, it negated the switch and powered the pump full time. It will never turn off in this configuration. If it ran for 5 hours, it is possible that you have done damage to the pump as I am sure it was running dry. It needs the water in the sump pit to cool the pump. I would check the pump out by putting water in the pit and see if it pumps it out. You will have to take the cover off to see. Sounds like maybe the float switch has gone bad. You may have to get a new float switch. If the pump runs when you plug it in and pumps water, then it sounds like the switch has gone bad. You will have to open the pit up and replace it.
R
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Thanks for the reply. That makes sense. I might have exagerrated a tad about the 5 hours part. It may have been two hours or so. It sounds like water is swishing around.
Since I have never even looked under that cover, what should I expect? Is it a well full of water? How far down do you think the float switch is? Is there a way to tell if it is bad? Sorry for all of the questions but this is all a new frontier to me.
Thanks.

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located in the boiler room

never used that bathroom,

floor bathroom. It always

while back, I wanted to

went on. I thought that

turn itself on.

sump pump does not work.

the wall by one of the

it only used one outlet.

on. I heard the pump and

a loud hum coming from the

around. Does anyone have any

Thanks.
I'd say bad float switch.
First, it's a waste water pump, not a sump pump, at least as I understand the terms. A sump is often an open pit that is dug into the floor to pump out groundwater and floodwater. Your pump does much the same but it's a closed system because human waste can't sit in an open-to-the-air sump for obvious reasons. The two wires you see are this:
One powers the pump motor and that's the one you have now (very erroneously!!!) plugged into the wall outlet for five hours.:
The other wire is to the float switch. It ends in that dual plug/outlet fitting and the pump plugs into it. When the tank fills, the float switch closes and allows current to flow into the piggyback outlet to allow the pump to turn on until the waste is pumped out. They can only work properly in tandem.
I would guess that the float switch is either frozen by congealed muck or has leaked and failed. It's actually a pretty cheap fix provided you didn't burn out the motor by running it dry for so long. You should have noticed something backing up by now - have you?
-- Bobby G.
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As I said, we do not use this bathroom. It is only an issue because we are selling the house. I immediately unplugged the unit after I got another response. I told the other poster that I may have exaggerated and only really had it plugged in for two hours. I guess I still could have caused more damage but I wont know until I pull that top off. The engineer called it a sump pump and so has everyone else whoever saw it. As far as backing up, the engineer told me to fix the sump pump because he flushed the toilet so many times, it was up at the rim of seat. It eventually went down to normal on it's own without the pump kicking in. What is under that cover? I'm afraid to look. I do know that no one crapped in that bowl since 2008 so that shouldnt be in there.
Tony
wrote:

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0.com> wrote:

Are you CERTAIN the sump your posting about is for sewage?
aroound here many sumps are sealed to keep radon out, and only run when ranwater infiltrates the homes basement
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This pump only kicks in when the shower, sink or toilet are used for a while. I never had any rain or outside water come into this basement. I am on Long Island, NY.
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wrote:

They could conceivably be wrong.

I forget if that was before or after the hours that the sump pump ran. Probably before. You should definitely fix the sump pump, or any pump there. What's the point of having a broken pump?
How far below grade is your basement floor. Or how high are your basement windows. My basement floor is 7 feet below grade, but it's still higher than the sewer near the street. The only reason you would need a waste-water pump is if your sewer is higher than your toilet, which is rare, even for people with basements. (The people who planned the sewers knew that the homes would have basements.) Otherwise you have a sump pump.
Do you have neigbhors? Ask them what they have and ask to see their basement bathrooms. Note how high their basement windows are.
People should rely on their neighbors more, at least for little things like this. It also helps to build friendships. People like you more when they do favors for you than when you do favors for them. And they probably know more about your system than we do, especially if all your houses look alike, or were built in the same time period.

Demons. Don't look. They'll ruin your face.

The water in your toilet trap will evenually evaporate if you never use the toilet, I'm told. 3 years might be enough???? Then you will smell sewer gases, and wonder why.

More below all the way to the bottom.

So when did the toilet fill almost to overflowing?

As they said, the pump is running because you bypassed the switch in the combo male/female thing it had been plugged into.

I'll admit I've never seen a waste-water pump, but that looks to me like a sump pump, with a smaller pipe for venting any radon. (Do they actually have to find radon before putting in those covers now? I'll bet they do it regardless. How old is your house.
Seems to me if you had a waste-water pump, you're toilet would look different from other toilets. Am I right, guys? Does it look different from your other toilets? Anything written on it? What did the seller say?

Yup
Except for what kind of pump it is, about which I am not certain, I agree with this whole post.

I'm glad you stopped top-posting. Thanks.
I'm no plumber, but it's conceivable you have a leak in the drain from the shower, sink, and toilet, and that's why it goes on when you use them, even though it is a sump pump.
It's also possible, the water table is low enough that the pump never comes on, even though it is a sump pump. It's also quite possible it's been on when you were't around and so you don't know about it. Frankly, I don't think the sump pump swtich woudl have broken if it had been used so little, unless it wore out mostly under the previous owner.
It's also possible that the code where you live requires a sump pump even for dry basements. That's the law in Baltimore County, for basements sufficiently below grade. (I don't know the distance, but if one side of the basement is level with the ground, there's no requirement for a sump pump.
There are pedestal pumps and submersible pumps. Wney you take off the cover, you can see what you've got. You will probably see the float, the size of a baseball or softball. Lift it up and let it fall down a couple times. Then*** plug in the pump the way it was originally, and see if it goes on. Maybe the float was stuck and will never stick again, or maybe it was stuck and you can remove what was making it stick. A dead mouse maybe, not that I've ever seen that, but one did keep my refrigerator fan from turning.
You can see the water level. It might be empty or there could be water in there for years without the pump going on if the level never gets too high.
***If there is water in the sump, plug the pump in the way you had it, wrong, for a 50 seconds and let the pump pump out the water. Watch how fast new water tries to fill the sump. It's good info to know. But if it only fills it below the level the float/switch is set for, the pump will not go on.
You can go to a hardware store and see on the boxes a better view of your pump.
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Nothing he's posted suggests that.

I think that's why he posted here, no?

That's just plain wrong. It's very typical for the sewer line to be higher than the discharge would be from a basement toilet or shower. Every home I've owned the sewer line has been 5 feet or more above the basement floor as has every friends house that I've been in around here in NJ. I know there are some that are below the basement floor, but it's most definitely not unusual to find them well above the floor and I'd say it's in fact far more common. That's why ejector pumps are needed.

While they may exist, I've never seen a sump pump that used that type of dual plug approach.

It looks exactly like an ejector pump, which is what he is describing. The line with the check valve connects to the normal house sewer system. The other line is a vent line that gets vented like any other waste line vent. Waste water/sewage enters into the side of the holding tank beneath the concrete floor.

It would have to be one hell of a leak to instantly trigger a sump pump that has no direct connection to the sink.
He has an ejector pump with a stuck or bad float switch. Repairing that would be a cheap job, except for the possibility that he ruined the pump by letting it run for many hours dry. Why anyone would sit there and let it do that is beyond me. Given the skill level here and that a house sale is on the line, it might be time to call in a plumber.
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On Thu, 16 Jun 2011 05:52:24 -0700 (PDT), " snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net"

Here on Long Island, I never saw a sewer line that was below the basement level.It does not even apply since I am in Suffolk and there are no sewers anywhere near where I live. There are two PVC pipes. One comes from the bathroom and the other goes out to the line out of the house.
I can do this myself. I just never did this before. I let it run for awhile because I thought it was emptying out any water that collected over the past 3 years. Usually, it was the sink running or something but it hasnt triggered in three years. It sounded like it was swishing and doing it's thing. It just never stopped.
That said, I removed the top cover and I dont really know what I am looking at. Please look at this pic and tell me where the float switch is. That would help a great deal.
http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee225/trusso11783/pump2.jpg
http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee225/trusso11783/pump-1.jpg
Thanks again.
Tony
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On 6/16/2011 6:57 PM, Tony wrote:

The float is that black plastic bulbous thing at the bottom of the pit. It's cable has to be taped to the PVC pipe, such that it can swing up and down as the water rises and falls, without getting hung up on anything.
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On 6/16/2011 6:57 PM, Tony wrote:

Here is a link that shows exactly how the piggy back float switch should be connected. They also sell these at Home depot:
http://www.pollardwater.com/pdf/pdf_web_manuals/Piranha_09_Manual.pdf
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wrote:

Tony, if you're ambitious, you can do this yourself. First run some water to bring the level up a bit and plug in the pump to see if it's still working. You can clean the sump up a bit by running clean water through it. You can also use a garden hose to spay things down. If you loosen the hose clamp on the sleeve under the check valve you should be able to wiggle it loose. Connect some line to the overhead first so you can tie off what will be hanging. If you see a ring or other tie-off point on the pump, use a line to haul it up. Otherwise haul the pump out with the PVC pipe. The PVC pipe screws out of the pump. Get plenty of rags on the floor first. If you can ID the pump with a plate, get a replacement at the plumbing store. Shop around for price. Otherwise you can take it to a plumbing supply store and get a replacement. Just clean it enough for basic decency, then wrap it in rags well. The sludge on it is full of rust and will stain forever whatever it touches. I have what looks to be a similar pump in a deeper sump, but my sump is for ground water and foundation tiles. On mine the level switch is that bump on the side of the pump, with the same electric cable set-up. There's a rubber membrane over it, no float. You will see the float if you have that setup. My switch failed and I didn't see a way to fix it. I left it in there on a Y (but upside down) and put a new pump on the other leg of the Y, both with check valves. When we get the 100 year rains, every 5 years or so, I can plug the old pump in with the pump cord. But that's unrelated to your deal. I don't know what the pump head difference is between a "macerator" and regular sump pump, so make sure you're getting the right pump. If you DIY, then the main thing to watch out for pump height, so the existing PVC still fits. Be ready to get a longer piece, or cut the old one. You also may find the pump is sitting on bricks or a cinder block. That provides some height adjustment and keeps the pump intake off the bottom. Another option is just get it priced by a plumber. Up to you.
--Vic
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Given the experience and skill set so far, I'd recommend calling a plumber. If he can't indentify the float, as a buyer I wouldn't want him fooling around with AC in the house I'm buying. Also, give what the pump looks like, I'd say replacing the whole thing is in order.
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wrote:

OK. Here is the story. I put a few buckets of water into the "well" until the float raised up a few inches (it looked like the float in my toilet tank). I plugged the piggyback plugs into the wall and NOTHING. I then plugged the pump directly and I watched it shoot the water out up into the pipes. So, I think I can conclude that the pump does work and it is the level switch like so many of you suggested. Thank goodness I didnt damage the pump. The question is, where the heck is this switch? I have no idea what I am looking at. I am so close to fixing this. I really appreciate the help guys.
Tony
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wrote:

Just to keep it real, you ain't even close. I don't know anything about these float switches. As I said, I just bought a new pump with the membrane type pressure switch, and kept the old pump in there as a manually plugged in backup. Maybe somebody here can guide you further.
--Vic
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On 6/17/2011 6:41 PM, Tony wrote:

The switch is inside the float. You don't replace the switch, you replace the entire assembly. For the switch to operate, it's cord needs to be attached to the pump pipe. Floating doesn't close the switch, it has to be turned upright. If you buy a new piggy back float switch, you can plug a lamp into it, then move it upside down and right side up, to see how it operates. Then it should be clear, how it has to be attached in the pit
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Here's a link about the types of sump pump switches:
http://www.sump-pump-info.com/float-switches.html .
Yours appears to be type "3", a tethered float switch. The actual switch mechanism is located inside the float.
Here's a link to one you can buy at Home Depot:
http://www.homedepot.com/buy/plumbing/pumps/flotec/replacement-submersible-float-switch-41743.html .
My guess is that since you are planning on selling your house, all you need to do is buy one of these and use it to replace the bad switch that you have now.
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wrote:

I"m not sure how many inches is a few or if it went high enough.
RBM says it has to be turned upright.
Maybe put on a rubber glove and lift it as high as it goes. You don't even need more water. If it ran for two hours empty it can run for 5 seconds more. (Well, the two aren't really related.)
Could anything in the way, that needn't be there, have been stopping it from going that high in your previous test. That's probably the only other thing it could be now, besides a bad switch.
41 dollars is not much, but maybe it will hard to get the old swtich off, rusted??

Yes you are, either away.

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