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
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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. ;-)
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.
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
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?
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
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.
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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