I have recently bought a home with a sump pump in the basement. We
also have had radon mitigation done.
Is it customary for a sump pump to turn on every minute or so to pump
out water? Would this lead to burn out of the motor?
Also because of the radon mitigation, the sump hole is now sealed over
with plexiglass......if the basement should flood I will not be able
to get the water into the sump hole because of the cover. Is there a
better way for all of this to be set up?
Is there a preferred type of sump pump?
Thanks for your help and suggestions with this. All of this is new to
me and would like to get things squared away before spring and any
On 11/30/2004 10:41 AM US(ET), email@example.com took fingers to
keys, and typed the following:
If the pump is pumping water when it is running, then it is working as
it should. A sump pump turns on when the water reaches a 'trigger'
level, and then turns off when the water is below the low limit of the
pump. If it keeps cycling like you say it is doing and it is pumping
water out, then when the pump has pumped out the water down to the lower
limit and shuts off, within a minute, more water has entered the hole
and has reached the 'trigger' level, turning the pump back on.
These continuous short cycles will certainly not add to the lifespan of
You say water cannot get into the hole with the plexiglass cover over
it. Then where is the water coming from?
If your pump is actually pumping water out every minute or so, and there
is no floor water flowing into the pump hole, I would assume that
ground water is perculating up into the hole almost as fast as the pump
is pumping it out. This seems like a "Catch 22" arrangement. The hole is
needed for the sump pump to pump the water out of the hole, but the hole
is allowing ground water in at almost the same rate. In that case,
something to plug up the hole under the pump makes even more sense. You
can use a hydraulic cement (like Drylok's 'Fast Plug') to form a 1" or
2" plug for the ground water. Hydraulic cement works even under water
pressure and expands as it dries (5 minutes), forming a tight bond in
the hole. This will also take care of the radon problem. After it dries,
sit the pump on top of the plug to allow it to do what it was intended
A sump pumps main purpose is to pump ground water out of the sump pump
hole, not water off the basement floor, when it's already too late.
Sure, flood water from the basement floor can also go into the sump
pump hole, but that's a secondary purpose.
Plug up the sump pump hole with cement? What's up with that? The sump
pump hole is there for the sump pump to sit in and pump water that
makes it into the hole out. Even if it were deeper than it needed to
be, which I doubt as it just makes installing it harder, it's not
going to hurt anything. Ground water will only rise as high as it
normally would anyway. That's why if you dig a well, you still neeed
a pump to lift the water.
It sounds like maybe the check valve is defective. That part is
available separately and is not expensive. Yes it will damage the motor and
I don't know how they have this set up. I would think that it would not
be too hard to arrange something that would both block the air and still
allow for drainage. They may have already set up something.
How frequently the pump runs is a function of how much water is coming
into the sump pump hole. After a period of very heavy rain, having it
come on frequently can be normal. However, if it's been relatively
dry, it is unusual for it to come on that frequently, unless you have
a very high water table.
I would take off the cover and see what's going on. Make sure the
water is not running back in from the discharge line. There should be
a check valve to prevent backflow. If there isn't or it's stuck, a
lot of the water could be flowing back after the pump shuts off.
Also, watch at what point the pump turns on. It should come on as the
hole fills up, then shut off when it's near bottom. Check where the
discharge goes outside. Further is better, I'd go at least 10 ft and
make sure it slopes away from there.
As for getting water from a flooded basement into the sump hole,
that's a good question. In newer homes it's common to have a drain
channel around the basement floor where it meets the wall. That drain
then leads into the sump hole. Since you have a radon issue, I would
discuss it with whoever did the radon elimination. I would think
there must be some way to have an opening in the sump hole cover so
that water from the floor could get in, but water could not get out.
Sort of like a scupper flap device they use on the sides of some boats
to let water out from the deck.
And finally, if your pump is running that much and the settup is OK,
then I would definitely consider at least a battery backup, if not
generator solution. At some point, you know you'll lose power and
This seems awfully frequent. Can you watch the water level in the
sump? The pump should turn on when the water is fairly high, and run
until the water is almost all gone. In my sump, when I test it with a
garden hose, it takes several minutes of the hose running full-on to
fill the sump, from empty, to the point that the pump begins to run,
then maybe a minute or two of pumping to empty it again. The sump is
about 3' square and maybe 3' deep; the rise and fall of the water from
empty to "full" (ie, pump cuts in) is about 2' or 2.5'. Hard to know
exactly, looking down into a dark hole, so these are ballpark.
My sump is (for now) fed only by a few drains in the basement floor,
plus the condensate drain from the boiler and, seasonally, a
dehumidifier. At worst, on humid summer days, the sump runs maybe once
every couple of hours, tops.
One or more of the following is therefore true:
- your sump is a lot smaller than mine
- your sump is collecting water a lot faster than mine
- your pump is set to come on at a very low water level, and/or cut
off at a very high level.
My pump has no visible float, so I assume it's a pressure-switch type,
and I have not had to adjust it. Does yours have a visible float that
Are there no drains leading into the sump from the basement? If not,
then do you know where it's collecting water from? The only other use
for a sump that I know of is to drain an external weeping-tile system.
I am told (being not quite yet the owner of such a scheme) that the
actual volume of water that the drains will put into the sump is very
small, except at times of heavy rain and high water table. Perhaps you
are in such a mode at the moment? ...one hopes, not for very many days
of the year.
Dunno. I'll watch for answers to this question, for when mine breaks!
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