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HOW TO


Sump Pumps
SUMP PUMPS ARE RATED IN GALLONS PER MINUTE (GPM). They also are rated by motor capacity. A high capacity pump (at least 40 gallons per minute) with at least a 1/3 horsepower (hp) rated motor will handle most flooding conditions easily. Follow the advice of the salesperson at the store or the information on the containers in which the pumps are packaged. Go one size larger than recommended. The price is worth it.


TYPES OF SUMP PUMPS
There are two types of sump pumps (Fig. 1): the upright/pedestal type and the submersible type.
Upright Sump Pumps. The upright or vertical model consists of a motor mounted on a pedestal. The base of the pedestal rests on the bottom of the sump pit. The motor, at the top of the pedestal, must never be under water. This is the most common and least expensive type of sump pump. The on-off switch of an upright sump pump is controlled by the position of a ball float. When the water rises in the pit, it lifts the ball float up, causing the motor to switch on. Water is then drawn through an intake opening in the pump housing and pumped up through a discharge pipe and out to a drainage point. As the water is pumped out of the sump pit, the float drops down and switches the motor off. The water level in the sump pit should never go lower than 6 inches or the level of the intake screen. A dry-running pump could be seriously damaged. Always check the pump if you hear it running continuously. Submersible Sump Pumps. The submersible type of sump pump is usually more expensive than the upright, but cannot be damaged by flooding and requires little maintenance. The submersible type can also run for a long continuous period without damage to the motor.
This type has three different switch mechanisms. In one type, the pressure of a certain level of water in the sump pit forces a pressure-sensitive switch to click on. After enough water is pumped out, the switch turns the pump off. Another type of switch is a vertical-float operated switch. The switch works like the upright pump and is contained in its own watertight housing.
Other submersible pumps have a switch encased in the tank float. If you buy this type, be sure to keep the pump and the well clean. Sand, dirt, or gravel will interfere with the pump switch and may cause it to run too long, sucking the well dry. If this happens, the pump must be repaired by a professional.
When purchasing a sump pump, look for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) label or Canadian Standards Association (CSA) label. They will ensure that the pump is electrically safe and will handle the load of pumping water. The Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association (www.sspma.org) also provides a list of certified pumps that conform to SSPMA standards.

PREPARING THE SUMP PIT
Installation of a pump and its location will depend on the type of water problems you have and what the local plumbing and electrical codes require. If you install a pump only

as a safeguard against an unexpected flooding situation, and have only a slight amount of water under normal conditions, locate the sump pump in the lowest part of the basement near an outside wall. Locating the sump in a low spot will ensure that water will run to the sump.
If the water problem is really serious, you may need to cut out small channels in the floor to funnel the water into the sump. These channels should be more like depressions rather than trenches. Make them about 2 inches wide by about 1 inch deep. Draw the position of the channels on the floor at the same time you lay out the site for the sump system.
• The first step when installing a sump pump is to prepare the pit. To do this, it is necessary to make a hole in the basement concrete floor for a plastic, concrete, or terra-cotta pit liner. Make the hole in the floor approximately 2 inches larger than the liner diameter so the liner can be dropped into the hole and the top of the floor finished around the edges of the liner. The hole for the sump pump liner is made 3 to 4 inches deeper than the liner.


A sledgehammer and cold chisel can be used to break the concrete for the sump pit. But it is far better to rent a jackhammer (Fig. 2) or hire a contractor to do the job.
The secret to using a jackhammer is to let the jackhammer do all the work. You just steer. Hold the handles of the jackhammer lightly, guiding it into the concrete. You don't have to push down on the jackhammer or manhandle it. Always wear e e protection.
Once the concrete is broken away, remove it. Then with a small sledgehammer and cold chisel, dress the edge of the concrete, making it as smooth and even as you can.
CAUTION: When working with concrete and concrete removal tools, be sure to wear gloves and safety glasses. Pieces of concrete can fly when hit with a sledgehammer and cause injury.
• Fill the bottom of the hole with about 4 inches of fairly coarse gravel. The gravel will form a base for the bottom of the pump and, with open bottom liners, help prevent mud

and other debris from clogging the pump's action. The pump should be placed on bricks or a concrete pad on top of the ravel base when an open-bottom liner is used. Now set the liner in the hole and level it (Fig. 3). There should be a small space between the outside of the liner and the hole. Fill this space with the same rock as in the bottom. This will allow water to run under the floor to the sump bottom.
• Bring the level of the rock to about 2 inches from the top edge of the liner and level the rock around the liner as best you can. Then mix a batch of concrete to fill the space between the top of the rocks to the top of the concrete floor. An 80-pound bag of ready-mix concrete is enough for this job.
• Fill and pack the concrete mixture into the space, and then trowel the concrete smooth around the liner and edge of the concrete floor.
• If you have cut channels in the floor, smooth these channels as best as you can with a cold chisel and sledgehammer, clean out the debris, and wet down the concrete with water. Mix up a tub of concrete that contains a latex or epoxy bonder. You can buy this type of mortar already mixed, or you can buy the bonder and add it to the mix.
When the mix is fairly stiff, trowel it into the channels you cut, forming a smooth surface. Let all concrete and mortar set for several days before you continue with the project.

INSTALLING THE DISCHARGE PIPE
To drain the sump, a discharge pipe must be connected from the pump to a drainage point outside (Fig. 4). There are two "don'ts" to keep in mind:
• Never allow the sump to discharge in a septic tank. You don't want to fill your septic tank with groundwater or rainwater because it doesn't need to be treated.
• Never allow the sump discharge to flow into the sewer line; most plumbing codes don't permit it.
Note: In many cases you can simply discharge it on top of your lawn. Or, you can connect to the external drainage pipe as discussed later.
The most common practice for the sump discharge is to run a pipe through the foundation wall. Use a drill with a masonry bit or a cold chisel and a small sledgehammer to punch a 3-inch hole in the foundation so that it will open into the ground about 10 inches below the ground level outside. Be sure to follow the pump manufacturer's recommendations for pipe and choose a pipe that will be the same size as that needed

for the discharge opening on the pump. Although the discharge pipe can be copper or galvanized steel, use plastic pipe (PVC) for the piping system because plastic pipe is easy to assemble and is suited for this job.
• Dig a trench to expose the hole in the foundation and to lay in drain pipe-about 6 feet long. Insert a length of plastic pipe in the foundation hole-a 4-footer is about right-and position the pipe so 1 1/2 feet of it is outside the foundation wall and 1 1/2 feet inside the basement. Fill around the pipe with a concrete mixture packing it tightly in the hole. You may want to cut the hole at the same time you install the sump so you can complete all concrete work at the same time.
• Assemble the pipe outside in the trench and inser the pipe into a length of drainage pipe or clay pipe. Plastic drainage pipe is a good product for this; it has holes in the walls of the pipe so the water is distributed in the ground as it is pumped from the basement sump. The pipe should be sloped down and away from the foundation. If the soil doesn't have good drainage, you may want to run the outdoor drainage system into a dry well.
• Inside, connect the pipe to sump via a straight connector, 90-degree elbow, and check valve. The pipe is rigid enough to support itself in short runs. If a check valve is installed, a 3/16-inch diameter hole must be drilled in the discharge pipe below the floor line to prevent air lock. It is very important to install a check valve to stop the backflow of water into the sump. A check valve works with the water pressure and closes against the pressure. The valve should be installed in the horizontal pipe run. Again, follow the manufacturer's installation instructions.
• The drainage pipe goes approximately to the top of the floor at the sump liner. At this point it will be connected via a sleeve connector or union to another length of pipe that connects to the base of the pump.

Before the plastic pipe is solvent-cemented, assemble it without cementing the joints so you make sure that the lengths of pipe are correct. Once the connections are connected with solvent cement, you cannot pull them apart.
• Fit the discharge pipe onto the pump. It will require an adapter that usually is supplied by the pump manufacturer. But check the package before you leave the store. Cut the pipe so that it goes an inch or so above the sump liner when the pump is in position in the sump (hole). This pipe will be connected to the drainage pipe that goes outside.

ELECTRICAL POWER CAUTION: Water and electricity is a deadly combination. Be sure power is off at the main circuit breaker before working on or installing a sump pump.
Electric power for the pump is supplied usually by a simple cord with a male plug connected to an outlet (Fig. 5). It is recommended that you either create a new special circuit for the pump, or tap into an outlet or switch box in the basement and run a new power line into a new box, provided the box can handle the additional line.
Use No. 12 plastic-sheathed wire with ground for the connections-either new or from an outlet/switch. The connection must be grounded. If the power will be supplied by a brand new circuit, it is strongly recommended that you call in a professional electrician to make the connections. It is against code to splice wire outside a junction, switch, or outlet box. Codes now require No. 12 gauge wire for all residential wiring circuits of the type needed to power a sump pump.

SETTING THE SUMP PUMP
Carefully set the sump into the sump liner so it rests on the bricks or concrete pad in the bottom of the sump pit. Then, with a flexible plastic pipe connection or a short piece of rubber hose and alignment; the hose will take up any misfit, if the misfit is not severe. If it is, you may be able to reposition the sump pump in the bottom of the sump slightly to align the two pipes.
Building a Cover. Make a cover for the sump pit from 3/4-inch exterior grade plywood (Fig. 6). Drill three holes in the cover for an upright pump: one for the pedestal, one for the float rod, and one for the discharge pipe. Submersible pump covers need only a hole for the discharge pipe. Saw the cover in half, cutting through the middle of the hole or holes. Fit the halves around the projecting pieces. Hold the cover together with straps of aluminum or wood held with screws.
To test the installation, plug the pump cord in a power outlet. Then fill the pit with water via a bucket or garden hose. The first time the sump is filled will take extra water since the ground will absorb some of it. As you check the pump, also check the drainage pipe at the connections and outdoors. If you find leaks in glued connections, you will have to replace a section of pipe and the connections. If the system leaks at the hose connection, try tightening the hose clamps to stop the leak. Bury the drain pipe in the trench.

SUMP PUMP MAINTENANCE
A sump pump may sit idle for months and then suddenly be needed. Carry out these checks: Every 3 months:
• Make sure the pump inlet screen is clean.
• Check the electric cord and make certain the pump is plugged in.
• Operate the pump to be sure it runs. Once a year:
• Take the pump out of the sump and clean it. s Clean the sump.
• Examine the pump and the sump for wear or damage.
• Oil or grease the pump as specified in the owner's manual.
• Replace the pump and run it, and adjust the float level, if necessary.


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Updated: 07/2017   copyright 2012 U-Repair.com