Sump Pits and Sump Pumps - All You Need to Know

hi my name is Martin Newmark at house no

how come I'm here to talk about some

pits and sump pumps and tell me a little

bit of an inking story that you hear and

goin at the end and it was really yeah

especially for me cuz I experienced it

alright the contents of this video are

what is a sump it

what homes have some pits and why what

is a sump pump how water gets into some

pit when is a sump pump needed how sump

pumps are turned on and off where some

pumps should discharge water

how often sump pumps run how to test a

sump pump when a sump pump fails some

pits and radon and then my Achy sump

pump story what is a sump pit a sump it

is essentially a pit or a hole in the

basement or crawlspace floor

so what homes have some pits some pits

are installed in homes that might have a

high water table and homes that might

have groundwater problems around the

home as well so water coming up from

below and down from above what is a sump

pump well a sump pump is is a pump that

gets placed down into a sump pit that

can suck up the water that's in the pit

and discharge it out to the lawn around

how does water get into a sump pit

there's essentially a couple ways one is

through a French drain which is a pipe

that runs around the perimeter of the

foundation and drains water into the pit

this way so water would essentially run

down this pipe and then drip or in some

cases run into the pit itself another

way water gets can get into a sump pit

these are more of a retrofit style sump

pit a retrofit style might have holes

drilled in the side because there's been

no French drain installed around the

perimeter of the foundation so these are

retrofit because of some water problems

that are discovered after the home was

built during a flood during really bad

rains or snow melts things like that and

so they'll have holes and water just

seeps into the pit and then of course

there'd be a pump installed to pump that

water out as well one problem I rarely

see but I have seen before

with some pits and the French drain that

runs into them is I'll notice that the

the pipe is running uphill into the pit

well this is a problem because if water

in order for water to get through the

pipe and into the pit if the water level

in the pipe has to essentially fill the

pipe that runs around the foundation and

then drip into the the pit once the

ground around the home and around the

foundation or alder already saturated so

this is not a very good situation the

the challenges is to fix this you have

to essentially tear up the basement

floor and

tear back to as far as the the pipe is

running uphill because you need that

pipe to run downhill into the pit

should this be fixed it's that's a good

question it's tough it's gonna cost

several thousand dollars and is it ever

is it ever gonna be a problem so that's

a real hard decision point for that one

in particular unless you're already

seeing structural damage because of the


would that need to be fixed it's


when is a sump pump needed a sump pump

is needed well let me let me back up

from it many new homes are required to

have some pits installed but they're not

necessarily required to have some pumps

installed now the reason for this is

that sometimes the home ends up not

having any water in the sump pit at all

and so you don't need a pump and

sometimes the pit does end up with water

in it in which case you want to install

a pump if the water level gets to within

about one inch that's my number within

one inch at the bottom of the lowest

pipe that enters the pit sometimes

you'll have a pipe entering low a pipe

entering high and it's the lowest point

on the lowest pipe that we're concerned

about if it's within an inch of that I'd

say go ahead and add a pump just to be

safe now if there isn't water in the pit

and you still want to you're still

trying to decide should I put a pump in

or not you can look at the size of the

wall around here at least in Colorado

you'll you'll often see water marks on

the side of a dry sump pit pit as to

where the water has been in the past so

I would go to that high-water mark to


whether I should install a sump pump or

not how sump pumps are turned on and off

by a switch but it's an automatic switch

it's essentially a float switch so as

water rises in the pit when it gets to a

certain level we want the pump to turn

on pump the water out and the water

level down and then turn off so it's an

on/off on/off as water comes in and out

of the pit itself there's essentially

two types this I this type I think of as

a bulb on a wire switch where as this

bulb pivots up it will there's a switch

inside it that will turn the pump on and

as the float comes down it will turn off

now this the length of this farm here is

adjustable at this spot you can loosen

this screw here make this longer and

shorter and that will change the throw

of when the pump turns on and off

the other thing is this particular type

of pump needs to be adjusted so that

this float doesn't get hung up on the

walls of the pit or piping for the pump

or wires for the pump

or debris that's in the pit things like

that another style of pump activation is

this where you have a float that's on a

lever arm and the switch is actually

inside this housing as the water goes up

this float is gonna come up turn it on

and as it goes down it'll turn off same

as the other one but the action here is

more contained it's just up and down up

and down it's not swinging like that

previous sump pump switch I like these a

little better because I don't worry

about that bulb getting hung up and not

turning the pump on or preventing the

pump from actually turning off and

running itself out however the throw on

this the distance this is going to move

is going to be only a couple inches

whereas this can be several inches okay

the the other thing to think about is

that since we want this pump to turn on

before water gets to the bottom of the

lowest pipe in the pit we may need a

pump that has a very short throw and so

in this type of a pit this pump may not

work because that water is going to get

pretty deep before that pump comes on

and we don't want that

so we put this type of the pump in there

where it turns on much more well lower

in the in the pit where should some

pumps discharge water the answer is to

grade and what I mean by to grade is to

the lawn outside the home the water that

comes into us some pit is essentially

groundwater and that's we're sure it

should be returned to is the ground once

in a great while I'll see some pumps

discharging water into the sanitary

sewer the regular drain of the home

where the toilet water and sink water

shower water goes that's wrong because

they mean to the municipal water

treatment plant is not capable of

treating all the water that comes out of

some pits around the town so that's

that's a big problem and it should be

fixed in any home where water is being

dumped to the sanitary sewer

how often do some pumps run it depends

it depends on how much water is flowing

into them and after a snowmelt or during

a snowmelt or after a very big rain sump

pumps might run quite frequently if your

sump pump is running more frequently

than you would like or you think is

normal what you can do is check and see

how low the pump is down in the pit if

there's if if the pump activates before

that water line gets to the bottom of


lower input pipe into the pit you could

put the pump on a couple bricks or

something like that to raise it up so

that it activates at a little higher

level and this may stop your pit from

running more frequently how to test a

sump pump what I use when I'm doing my

inspections is a telescoping like

pointer but it's got a hook on the end

of it and I'll reach down and hook on to

I'll reach down and hook on to the hose

or wire going to the bulb and I'll just

pull it out that's most common when I

find when I find a pump like this I will

use the same tool and I'll just hook on

to this little arm here and pull it up

to test the pump

sometimes you can't test a sump pump

because there's a cover installed well

one way that you could test your pump

also if you can't reach the the switch

is to pour water into it or run water

into it from a garden hose until it

activates sometimes your sump it will

have a seal over the top of it as a part

of a radon mitigation system if that's

the case it's very difficult to actually

do a test unless you break that seal and

remove the cover or you could drill a

hole into the top of the seal run water

down through the hole and then seal that

hole when you're done what happens when

a sump pump fails

well ideally you want to fix it but how

do you know that it's failed in most

cases you won't know it other than not

hearing it it'd probably be a good idea

to install there they're actually

switches or alarms for when water comes

up to a certain level in the sump pit

and you could you could hang or put one

of those alarms just above where the

sump pump normally activates that'd be a

really good idea most sump pumps and

some pits don't have those alarms the

other thing to consider is what if this

pump is needed for just maintaining the

home the way it is like if they if the

pump fails then water's going to come

into the home well that's rare but in

some cases I've seen an actual backup

pump where the first pump is down inside

the pit and another pump a new pump is

installed above that with its own

switching mechanism so if the first pump

fails the second pump kicks in you can

also have battery backups you can have

another type of backup pump that is

actually operated by water pressure if

your power there's a power failure so

there are different ways to manage that

most of the time it's not managed and

those management those backup systems

are only put in usually once somebody's

already had a problem once before all

right some pits and radon radon is a gas

that comes out of our soils and in our

homes through our crawl spaces basement

slab floors and it's the second leading

cause of lung cancer after cigarette

smoking in the United States so we don't

want radon gas in our

what does a sump pump have to do with

radon gas entering our home well if you

look here the this pipe the French drain

that runs around the perimeter of our

Foundation has perforations in it to let

water in

well it's also letting radon gas in as

well if the concentrations are high in

the soil underneath the home so what

will have to be done is a cap is put on

when a radon mitigation system is

installed a cap is put on the pit and

hopefully there's a see hole so that you

can do it an inspection with a

flashlight afterwards but yeah those

pits need to be sealed so that radon

can't get into the home any longer all

right here we are we're at the end and

I'm gonna tell you a story had happened

to me it has got to be a couple years

ago now with a sump pit there's a brand

new home I goes in there and I was I was

testing this sump pump I'd reached down

my hook down pulled up on the bulb

turned on the pump and it worked there

was no problem then all of a sudden the

piping shuddered and it was curious

because I when you turn a a sump pump on

and off the just because of the water

starting and stopping in the pipes can

actually shutter the pipes okay so I so

I felt these pipe shudder and I was like

that's weird because I didn't do the

switch what's going on and so I tried

the switch again and I reached down and

I hooked the the switch and I pulled it

up and I got a shower water just sprayed

all over the place including me and it


water in that sump it apparently

somebody had an emergency and had to pee

in the sump pit without cleaning it out

and so I was actually showered with

stale pee and some pump water at an

inspection with no backup clothes and

yeah I was at a Brandon home so I didn't

wanna standing there dripping wet

smelling like a complete mess

and I didn't want to run around this

guy's house or try to clean up in this

house and my first thought was to go to

the to the sales office and use a shower

in there in the model home well I went

over there and for some reason that

bathrooms are disabled and so I couldn't

do that so I ran back to my car and I

thought oh my gosh I have a I have a

jumpsuit a white jumpsuit that I would

wear in crawl spaces or attics and I

grabbed that and I also carry a little

bottle of hand soap that I used to wash

my hands at the end of an inspection so

I took those and I have a towel a small

hand towel that I use to dry my hands

after inspecting sinks and faucets

things like that so I took my supplies I

went back into the house I went into the

bathroom and I I took a shower inside

this brand-new house using my hand soap

and I dried off with a towel and when I

was done in my birthday suit I put on

the jumpsuit the white jumpsuit zipped

it up and went about my inspection now

if you're wondering why the first time I

tested that sump pump it worked and the

second time I tested I got a bath here's

my explanation when I went outside to

inspect the exterior of the home I

notice the sump

pump pipe blowing water out to grade and

it was sticking out from the side of the


well there were tire tracks right down

the in the dirt right next to this sump

pump pipe and off in the distance I see

a guy driving around in a little bitty

Bobcat working on the foundation next

door so he must have driven his Bobcat

down the side of the house right as I

was testing it after I tested it the

first time he drove by hit it

that was the shudder in the pipe that I

noticed and the second time I tested it

he had broken it and I got a bath

that's my son pit story soaking wet with

stale urine it was not fun it wasn't

funny it was awful but I hope you might

be smiling and getting a kick out of it

because now I do too

enjoy that's my talk on some pits and

some bumps if you have questions feel

free to go to House know how calm and go

to the contact page and fill that page

out and send me any questions you like

thanks for watching