One problem is that the cord was (and still is) running under the door, to a non-GFCI outlet in the basement. Since the area enclosing the foot of the stairs is all cinderblock and brick, I suggested the he run some conduit and mount a weatherproof outlet high on the stairwell wall to power the pump. What's the preferred method for making the electrical connections to sump pump that has a 3 prong 110 VAC and sits outside the house in a concrete and cinderblock stairwell?
Second question: When his house floods, he says that water comes up quickly through a drain in the floor under the basement sinks. He believes that this is a storm drain and not a sanitary one because the occasional leaf or piece of street debris will come up but never raw sewerage. He says the water smells like streets do after the get slightly wet from the rain. That, to me, says storm drain.
He also says that when this happens, the sump pump is NOT pumping continuously. The floor of his basement is all dug out around the perimeter - I assume that French drain was to deal with weeping cinderblock walls, which we all have to some extent in this neighborhood - the site of an old natural spring. Neither of us knows anything about the French drains other than mine was dug in 1971 because they wrote that in the concrete!
I think we're seeing two problems here. One is that the sump *does* overload in a heavy rain as it's happening. That's not a plumbing problem as much as it is a landscaping one. Regrading and perhaps gravel runoff trenches with perforated drain pipe should reduce the flooding of the stairwell (very impressive - can rise several inches in just a few minutes).
But I don't think any of the sump pump work we do is going to affect the water that pours impressively out of the floor drain about a day after very heavy rains begin and continue. When the weatherman issues flood warnings, that's when the floor drains tend to rise. We both got flooded when a hurricane passed by in 2003 or so, and both times we had water come up through the floor drain. Their houses sits noticeably lower and closer to the old spring and is graded so that a lot of water passes by the house on both sides.
So do the immediate rains overflowing the stairwell sump and soaking rains causing water to come up from the floor drain mean they are not interconnected in any way? He is certain that the french drains connect both to the outside sump and the floor drain. However I see no marks on the concrete to indicate a connection. All I see in a very odd 1/2" square hole between the floor drain and the wall. It doesn't sound like connecting the sump to the storm drain system would be allowable by code. Why would you use a pump if you could just dump any excess down the storm drain?
I thought of using the cave diver's trick of dyeing the sump water and then flooding the floor drain with a hose to see if they were connected.
One solution he proposed is to dig a sump around the floor drain allowing the mounting of a traditional sump pump. I've seen how fast the water can come up from a 3" drain and when it does come up, it replenishes itself unless it is constantly pumped by a fairly powerful pump with a 1 1/2" outlet hose lifting it less than 8' - I guess a new sump to catch the initial overflow from the floor drain isn't a bad idea.
I suggested just using a 12VDC self priming pump and an electronic water detector and relay. Stick the inlet hose down the floor drain and activate it when the water is an inch below floor level. He says the occasional leaf debris will jam up the pump and it will likely need constantly oiling to keep from sucking air and burning up.
So, suggestions, brickbats, netnanny noises? (-;
-- Bobby G.