I've just installed my 3rd sump pump in 14 years. Granted, that's
probably better than some, but since high water is typically not a
problem in my neighborhood, I think I should get more life out of these
This pump failed 3 days ago. I didn't have time to replace it
immediately, so I just kept an eye on the water level until I had a
chance to buy a replacement. Over the 2 days it was out, I made what I
consider to be a startling observation. The water level rose during
the first day, as expected (the pump runs frequently when it's working,
so rising water didn't surprise me). However, it appears to have
topped out at about 12" from the top. This caused me to wonder if I
would be better off raising the height at which the pump starts so that
it starts only when it exceeds this 'natural' level. I'm speculating
that this could result in a considerable savings in both electricity
and wear and tear on the pump.
Am I off the wall on this? Is this common practice? How would one go
about this with a submersible pump? Could I put it up on blocks? Or
is there a way to adjust the float? (memory doesn't provide me with
any clues because I didn't look at it with that in mind when I
installed it) Would there be issues with stagnant water in the pit?
Any other considerations?
What safety factor? The water table either wants to rise higher than
the floor, or it doesn't. If it does, the pump can either keep up, or
it can't. Starting to pump sooner if the pump can't keep up doesn't
make you safer. A second pump set to start about 2" higher than
the first is a good idea, though.
What failed? A sump pump consists of a motor and a pump attached to it. Is
the pump freezing up, debris getting into it? Is the motor failing?
Yes, you can set it on blocks (we do that) and it keeps crap from getting
sucked into them and extends the life. Periodic cleaning of the sump is
You should get a lot more life from them. We use a couple at work and run
them 16 to 24 hours a day and they last for about 5 years. We buy Zoeller
It is probably the drain tiles around the footings filling up with
water. When you do get a pump going, instead of a trickle there will be
a flood of water coming out for a while, until they drain. The 4" (or
so) pipes around the foundation will hold a fair amount of water.
I had the same problem. My sump pump quitted after 4 years of very hard
working. I put more gravel in the sump, and installed a valve that
prevent water flow back to the sump. The water now is mostly 6" or more
from the basement floor, and I rarely hear the pump working. I do
occationaly unplug the float cable and test the pump though.
The humidify level in the basement seems rise a little in summer though.
Not sure if that was related.
I use two sump pumps connected by 1 1/2" pvc to a single check valve and
discharge. One is set lower than the other and both are set to run below the
inflow pipes. They (submersibles) are adjustable if you buy the type that
uses a float bulb switch.
Keep in mind that if you are not pumping the water out that it is still
there behind the walls/floor and the tiles around the house are full. Your
house then sits in a puddle.
After reading the above responses, I think you should at least try
raising the pump and see if it runs less often thus extending its
life. I also like the idea of gravel being used to prop it up.
That should reduce (slightly) the amount of moisture escaping into the
air making for a less humid basement.
That may or may not be worth trying, but it can't hurt much:
EXCEPT, do NOT use gravel to raise it up. Sand, gravel, dust,
etc., should not be allowed to enter the pit to extend the life
of the exposed parts. Same for salt, lime, soaps, bleach, etc..
Only water should be allowed in the pit, so if you need to raise
it, use something solid which won't shed into the water.
It would be better to suspend the pump by the bracket on top.
We typically get 10 to 14 years on our sump pumps (have only had
two since we've been here, so that's an average of, uhh, two
pumps? <g>. The first one, a piece of wood got into the pit and
jammed the float; stopped the motor from shutting off: had a
houseful of smoke, but no damage. When a sumbersible isn't
submerged to the specified depth, it gets hot. And when there's
no water, it really gets hot!! Self destructively hot, so be
sure it's submerged to the point recommended by the mfg. Many
brands do not require submersion, though; check which one you
have if you're concerned about that area.
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