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Question DetailsAsked on 6/22/2016

Why my basement sump pump tank has water all the time, even no rain

My house was build in 1995, ever since we moved in, we have issue with sump pump room. We asked city water and experienced plumber, they both think it's a nature phenomenon´╝îthere are high level of groundwater (aquifer) . Is there any way I could remove groundwater? I really need a dry sump pump tank. Anyone could help me?

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Don't know why you need a dry sump pump pit - if it being wet is causing moisture problems, you can put a cover over it - commonly regular exterior pluywood with good exterior paint is used, pressure-treated roof sheathing plywood even better for longer life. You just need to be sure it cannot cave into the pit, should be strong enough to walk on safely, and should not be totally airtight - a bit of air has to be able to get in to allow the pump to remove the water in the pit without creating a partial vacuum.

If your pump is cycling too often, one solution is to put in a deeper or larger diameter pit so it takes longer to refill between cycles - note the pit is very commonly connected to drain pipes under the basement slab so any modifications to the pit have to retain the drainage from them into the pit.

IF constantly has standing watear, almost certainly is a high groundwater issue at least right around your house - check with your neighbors and see if theirs (assuming they are about level with your house like in normal flat-land subdivision) is constantly wet - also ask if they have a french drain around their house, as that affects the meaning of the answer.

One thing you could do - but have to watch it closely - is turn off the power to the pump and see if the water rises significantly above its normal high-water mark before you turn the pump back on. IF you have an in-sump pump motor (as opposed to a motor on a standpipe above the pit, with the pump down in the pit) and that motor does not normally get wet, do not let the wataer rise to that level before powering the pump back up. If so, that means your sump pump is depressing the water table and that without the pump it might well rise to your floor level or above.

To determine definitively if it is naturally high water table or a leaking pipe the easy way is to turn off ALL water uses and all mechanical equipment connected to the water supply line (any circulating pump, boiler pump, hydronic heating system, etc) and hold your ear to the pipes indoors (and outdoors if you have an accessible meter box or such where you can access the pipe (or better use a $10-15 METAL HEAD stethoscope from pharmacy department) to listen for any sound of leakage through the pipes - you can commonly hear a VERY small leak. You can turn a faucet on to a fast drip and hear what that sounds like in the pipes around the house to determine if any noise you hear in the pipes is from leakage or not - interior wall or below-grade pipes are better to eliminate possible outdoor traffic noise being heard.

You can also, with ALL water uses turned off (and making sure there is no toilet "running" constantly) check the water meter at 1/2 or 1 hour interval to see if the dials have moved at all. If significant enough leak to cause sump pump to run a lot you would certainly see at least a good portion of a cubic foot (or several gallons) usage in that time frame, with all other water uses off.

Of course, the water could come from other sources - leach field if on septic (or a neighbor is), leaking pool, groundwater from lawn watering, replenishment from roof runoff if in a rainy area, etc.

If pump runs more often in rainy weather but goes back to normal quite quickly (in hours) could be roof runoff is gettingn in around and under foundation, elevating the water table. If after a good rain it runs more often for a day or more, general infiltration of the rainwater could be a main source.

To determine if natural source or not, would take a water sample and lab testing for a couple hundred $ range to determine if it is close to city water chemistry (assuming you are not on a chlorinated well) or if it likely sources from sewage or a swimming pool. Of copurse, the further your house is from the source, the closer the chemistry will look like groundwater, so that test is not always definitive, but commonly pesticide or fertilizer chemicals will indicate if from rainfall on your lawn, assuming you fertilize or weed-and-feed.

You can also google for groundwater and geology reports for your area - your local librarian or city/county engineer's office might have them for your area too, and many times they are on-line at state Geologist or Department of Environmnmental Conservation or similar named office. Areas where wells are used a lot and water is scarce also commonly have well reports on depth to groundwater and sometimes groundwater elevation maps for various areas. Might tell you if your area has high groundwater naturally.

If your house has nearby pretty much year-around wet drainage ditches or any canals or such, or any waterways (creek, river, etc) within say about 500-1000 feet distance (or within a mile or more if in a largish river valley) and within a few feet of your house elevation, most likely is high groundwater.

To permanently lower the water table might or might not be a major effort - and in some soils not a good idea because it could cause house settlement, so before trying that you should talk to a geotechnical engineer familiar with your area. A significantly deeper sump pump pit might do that, but might also require a larger pump to keep the water table down if your soil is fairly permeable. If your topography is suitable to provide exit drainage, you can put french drains (perforated drain pipe in gravel drain bedding material) around the base of your house foundation (typically 3-6 feet down to requires a moderate slope in your yard to be able to put the exit at ground surface), draining to a point where the water will exit to the ground surface at a sufficient distance from the house to not run back - but that is typically at least a couple to several thousands of $ to do that all around a house.

I guess the crux is if it is not flooding your basement, WHY do you really need a dry sump pump pit ? You can respond back using the Answer This Question link (yellow) right below your question, and perhaps I can give a more helpful answer.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD

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