Oh boy! Me and the wife are about to purchase our first single family
I was a good little homeowner and DIYer and decided that I should get
an inspection, since there is much I don't know. The inspector was
good, but couldn't tell me what this setup in the basement was.
There is a sealed pit. There are two pipes. Once goes up and outside
the house, poking out into the alley between houses. The other pipe
comes up about 2 inches, crawls along the ground, and then ducks back
into the ground.
At first I thought the pump was supposed to dump water outside the
house in a potential flooding situation.
This morning I called roto rooter and the guy came out to take a look.
He wanted to talk half of the time, so I nudged him along. Eventually
we figured out that the pipe going outside the house is just a vent.
The pump inside the pit fed into that little pipe along the ground.
There is a basement drain nearby. His best guess is that rainwater
spills into the pit and then gets pumped into the sewer. (into the
pipe leading to the drain.)
So here are the questions.....
1) This house is 50 years old. There is no evidence of drain tiles. So
what is feed the pit?
2) Has anybody seen a setup like this before?
3) Roto-man said that he doesn't see the floor drain holding water. He
thinks there is no trap. Can I do something about sewer gasses without
breaking up the floor?
If you have a sump, they either provided a way to fill it, or they put
the sump where water was gathering. Has the pump gone on yet? Have
you contacted the previous owner?
If the sump never fills, you have no problem. :) So why worry that
there is no way to fill it.
Have you taken the cork out of the sump? When I've seen two pipes
coming out, one has been for radon. This was a new, expensive house,
so I'm wondering if in that case, they put the pipe in when building
it even though it didn't test positive for radon. But if it is for
radon here, it would be because you had some. But it seems to have
been carefully treated. Still if it were for radon, one would think
the roto-rooter guy would recognize it. Where does the vertical pipe
Also, I haven't seen many sumps but your 'cork' is better than the
others I've seen. The others were loose, except for the guy with the
This is the first you mention sewer gasses. Do you have sewer gasses?
From the drain in the floor?
Does the drain lead to a sewer? I don't know, but I thought some
drains just lead out to the yard, although I may be naive, since I
don't see how they would drain then if the water talbe was higher than
That's the type of pump pit one would use for a below grade bathroom. Is it
possible the washer and slop sink are draining into it? I doubt it is for
ground water, although the basin could have been perforated to collect
If you remove the lid of the sump (the pit from which those pipes
emerge) you can tell if there are drain tiles leading to it. You'll
see two (or more) 4-inch openings on the side of the sump. Based on
the location of the sump (it appears near the middle of the room?) I'd
guess there are no drain tiles and whoever installed was hoping that
the sump alone would be enough to trap rising ground water.
As for the drain with no trap -- we had one of these and we ended up
making a jerry-rigged plug that blocked the drain and kept gases from
escaping. When the basement flooded from time to time, I'd wade in,
reach down through the water and pull the plug. Not the most elegant
solution, but it was cheap an easy -- I already had a pair of knee-
There's like 13 bolts and a gasket holding that lid down. The idea is to
keep sewer gasses in the pit or out the vent. When these things are used
with macerator pumps for sewage, it's important not to run them through the
main house trap as the force of these pumps will blow the trap empty
I'm still waiting for the solution to this. I tend toward the sewage
ejector pump myself but that cord does look suspect. Probably won't
be solved until either the cover is pulled for inspection or some
documentation for the house is found.
My guess is an overflow sump for basement drain system. I'd bet that line
that dives beneath floor ties into whatever that floor drain feeds to. They
made it go uphill so routine drainage would go where it is supposed to, and
the sump would only draft under flood conditions. Have you been in the house
during rainy season? Are you the low lot on the street? in a 50 YO house,
tying floor drains in the city sewers was not unknown. Sometimes that and/or
ground water can turn basement drains into artesian fountains.
All in all, looks like a cobbled solution done on the cheap, for an
occasional problem. Proper solution would have been to dig up basement floor
and/or outside basement wall, and put in proper tiles and daylight drains.
I agree that it looks like a cobbled solution. It perplexed both the
home inspector of 30 years and the talkative Roto-Rooter dude. At this
point I don't think I have to worry that it's something really really
We take possesion on March 15th. I will check it out next time it
rains and get a closer look.
Once I get in there the house will have a host of DIY projects which I
have no doubt will involve this helpful group.
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