Sump pump woes

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Pre-existing home, Wisconsin basement, poured walls and floor, 6 years old.
Lots of rain the last week or two and the sump pump has been turning on about every 3 minutes. Last night we had a power failure and the back-up Generac didn't start and I assumed I'd have water in the basement, but bone dry.
Here is what I found: The water pours into the crock when it is below the inlet pipe, but once filled, never rises above it. I guess from a physics standpoint that makes sense but, where is that water going if it's not being pumped out? I have no clue about how the drain tiles etc are laid out.
There is a second sump pump in the same crock as a backup, but once the inlet pipe is covered, the water never rises to a point where the 2nd pump would kick in. Primary pump actually pumps into a sewer, secondary onto the lawn, so it's not just a cycle of same water being pumped over and over, since the secondary never kicks in.
Second problem which just started, the off switch is sticking on the pump and it is still pumping, even when the crock is empty, or near empty, so it's sucking water and air. The float seems unencumbered and it happens maybe once every 40 cycles, but it is happening. I've reached into the crock and just jiggled it and then it shuts off. Do I need a new pump? Switch replaceable?
Existing home we purchased 6 months ago. More crap to lose sleep over!!
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You are lucky. As the water rises, the drain field is acting as a resevoir (SP?). If it rains enough, the water will rise higher and eventually flood if not pumped. Right now the water table is not too high.
You have not said if the switch is a float tethered to the pump or the kind where the float rises up and down on a rod/lever and that turns a click type switch on. If it is a float tethered to the pump, you just go buy a new switch, plug it into the wall and then plug the pump into the switch. The pump itself sounds like it is working fine.
The generac is a totaly separate story and I will let someone else advise you about that.
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wrote:

Looks like this:
http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-100113585/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId051&catalogId053
But I don't quite understand your replacement fix. Are you saying that float is a stand-alone item I can buy?
Thanks, Joe
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Your float switch is hard-wired into the pump. You can buy a separate float/switch that plugs into the wall and then the permanently wired on pump plugs into the switch. I don't have any photos handy. You can buy one of those types of switches for under $20, but you will have to go into you pump and bypass the present float/switch so the pump is always on.
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Ive got a 90 yr old house with drain tile, when the pump has failed it takes a week to start leaking into the basement, in my case and maybe yours the tile and pump system keep the table and pressure lower so it takes time to cause issues. Id leave it off for awhile and monitor the effects on your basement, if you can ask the seller about its operation and why they put it in, maybe it just for major flooding and you could cut back on pumping by adjusting the float.
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wrote:

Wasn't a friendly sale and no info is coming from the seller. Been established that it is a low lying area and in spring, or very heavy rains, we get a lot of runoff. Pump didn't run for the last 3 months, but heavy, recent rains changed that. And maybe that's why, didn't run for 3 months, parts rusted, or just need exercise? Or? I did find that I can find a float switch for $30, so first thing tomorrow, heading off to Ace. Hopefully, that takes care of the problem on the shut-off problem.
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Joe J wrote:

I like this type, http://www.northerntool.com/shop/tools/product_200352036_200352036
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I have also had that kind of pedestal pump with external/exposed switch, and they also sometimes fail to open or close, depending on the phase of the moon, etc, so they aren't much, if any, better than the direct float switch type of installation. The fact that you have to have a cover with multiple holes for the pedestal type of pump was my biggest problem, since it is in my shop, the floor is tilted toward the sump, and every time I dropped something it would roll quite rapidly toward the pump area. SInce most tools don't float, it was a pain to retrieve anything that fell into the sump.
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Agree that it's possible that raising the turn-on point for the pump might result in it running less and still having a dry basement. For example, if the natural water level is just above the current float turn-on, it will run all the time. But if you raise it by a couple inches, it will not run at all, unless water starts arriving from a recent rain, etc. The risk is that as you raise it you run some risk that water may start to come it somewhere in the basement, either now or with a future rain. The consequences depend on if it's finished or what's there on the floor. And you definitely want to keep the water level well below the floor level.
For the sump pump switch, as others have said you can either replace the switch on the current pump if that;s possible by getting the correct one or else use a seperately available one.
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Basement is 80% finished. family room, gym area, two extra bedrooms, all carpeted, drywalled, baseboard etc. So the risk of water coming in scares the hell out of me.
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I would try raising the float turn-on point about one inch and wait to see what happens. Do that repeatedly until the pump does not turn on in normal weather. The chances of getting a wet floor are not increased if you raise the float unless the pump actually fails to turn on, or unless the water level is within a couple of inches of the floor level. Then you will get dampness, but no actual water. This assumes that the perimiter floor drainage system is not blocked so that the water level is equal in all parts of the drainage system and in the sump itself.
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wrote:

So how do you raise the point where the float kicks in? This is not a vertical rod, float sump, but the floating bulb kind. I'm guessing I unscrew the clamp point and lengthen the cable an inch or so, right?
But then back to one of my original questions...when the pump empties the crock, water refills at a high rate. If I lengthen the float and the pump runs less, where is that water going to go?
Sorry if these are stupid questions but we recently moved here from the deserts of Nevada. No sump pump worries there.
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is your homes basement above the level of the surrounding area like the street?
if so let gravity do the job its highly reliable and isnt prone to power outages and breakdowns
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wrote:

No, it's a basement so of course it is below street level.
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The basement floor of my last two houses was above street level.
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Well not in this case.
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dig a much deeper sump pump pit, like twice as deep, and add a 2nd totally seperate backup pumb.
one down low and one higher up, to give you the capacity no matter how bad the storm.
also look into the possiblity your sewer line may be leaking adding excess water to the sump system, you might have a clogged sewer line.
this happened here on one hot dry summer day i found the sump pump running, traced it to a backed up sewer line, pretty easy espically with terracotta pipe
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The point being that your "it's a basement so of course it is below street level" is nonsense. One does *not* imply the other.
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You might want to consider a water powered back-up pump in the event you have no power.
http://www.simsupply.com/p-24936-back-up-sump-pump.aspx
I put one of these in a couple of days before Hurricane Irene hit, and it saved my basement when my power went out.
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House came with a Generac 17 KW generator, so I'm good there. And we're on a well, so no help but thanks for the suggestion.
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