View Full Version : Questions about my basement system.

11-15-2009, 02:12 PM
Earlier this year my sump pump stopped working. Since I was already behind in my mortgage and had a shutoff notice from the electric company I just did not have the money to get the system serviced. However, even with snow melt, heavy rains, and a combination of both, my basement never flooded and the sump alarm never sounded. I can hear gurgling which sounds like water entering the sump liner at several gallons per minute, but there has never been an overflow out the top. I am assuming the water is exiting the liner area through the ground (the water table/ground water flow around here changes constantly; several years ago a new brook began forming between my house and the neighbor's) or possibly I have a layer of drain tile installed under my house.

Yesterday I checked out Ebay for Zoeller pumps (Mighty Mate M53) and found one I was going to bid on. However, I decided I better check out the existing one first. I took off the cover (one-piece), removed 2 dead mice floating in the water (the level of which was maybe 4-5 inches above the top of the pump and the float appeared to be at its' upper position), and pulled the pump out. Of course the float returned to the bottom position and when I plugged the pump back in and raised the float by hand, the pump came on. So I checked the liner for debris (my previous pump failed because of "rocks" in the liner; so the tech told me), reinstalled the pump, reconnected the discharge pipe and plugged the pump in. The pump came on and pumped out the liner. So thankfully no new pump needed. One thing I noticed is that there is a 1 1/2" or 2" PVC pipe entering the side of the liner which I assume comes from the Waterguard channel. Although the entire time I could hear gurgling as if there was a constant flow of water running, not one drop of water came from the PVC pipe, so the water my system pumps out once every minute or so, is not coming from the Waterguard but from around the liner from ground water.

So anyways here are my questions:
1) What may have been the reason(s) for the pump to stop working? Although the float looked to be fully raised, could it have been stuck at a position just shy of turning the switch on? Can plugs accumulate some sort of film so that when I unplugged the pump and plugged it back in I re-established a good connection?
2) I did not have a CleanPump pedestal in my liner. Was this never installed or did Basement Systems begin installing them after my system installation date ('99 or '00)?
3) My one-piece cover has a hole for the discharge pipe, a hole for the power cord, a hole for the WaterWatch alarm, and another unused hole (3/4" to 1") that is open and most likely the entryway for the mice who met their fate in the liner. Is there a purpose for this hole? Was it the hole for the original alarm cord (my system used to have an alarm with a transmitter and a receiver I kept upstairs)? The hole is located not far from the discharge pipe so I am wondering if the hole for the WaterWatch alarm was created when the alarm was installed because of the inability to fit in the unused hole due to its' proximity to the discharge. Can this hole be plugged up to prevent rodents and insects from entering the liner (there were also quite a few spiders and wood lice in the liner)?
4) After the pump completes the pumping cycle, a jet of water comes from the side of the discharge pipe near the pump base, stops, jets again, and stops again (sometimes the water jets out twice, sometimes 3 times). Is this jetting of water normal? Since the water level is down the sound of the jetting water is quite obvious and I would have to say that I have always heard this sound after a pumping cycle. It does not appear to be the water in the discharge riser flowing back into the tank because the flow is just too forceful.
5) Can someone explain how the new liner covers are "airtight?" First, the alarm unit just sits loosely in the hole with no rubber grommeting, so this penetration is not airtight. Second, the photo clearly shows the cover having a floor drain to allow water to enter the liner from floor level. How is this airtight?

Thanks in advance for your replies/answers.

Charlene Bieber
11-16-2009, 11:02 AM
Hi Divelucaya,

Your first assumption was right...CleanPump Stand (http://www.basementsystems.com/sump-pump/cleanpump-sump-pump-pedestal.html) originally came out at the end of 2000, and a newer version has been in use since 2004. One can certainly be installed in your exisitng system to prevent any of that silt & sediment from being sucked up by the pump.

While it's rare on the Zoeller pumps, sometimes a switch can go bad over the years or just become tempermental. It is probably a good idea to have it replaced soon. It's tough to say why the pump did not work and now does. It could have been that when you lifted the pump out of the liner, whatever was stuck became dislodged.

The other hole in the lid was either for the alarm probe on the old alarm or it's the knockout hole for a dehumidifier hose. You can certainly cover it with a piece of duct tape or better yet, the right sized rubber grommet. I'm sure this is where, over the past 4 years since they changed your alarm out, debris & mice entered the liner.

The jetting of the water is certainly normal, do not attempt to screw the check valve in tightly. This tiny hole in the check valve prevents the pump from becoming air locked and it is normal to have water jetting out of it while the pump is running.

The large top of the alarm should sufficiently cover the hole that the probe goes down into. The floor drain (http://www.basementsystems.com/sump-pump/floor-drain.html) has a ball in the bottom of it that keeps it airtight and will rise if water enters through the top of the floor drain.

As far as the gurgling goes, without seeing it in person I'm not sure what could be causing that. Is there a radon system in the home? The sump liner will let in water from under the floor, so most likely that is the noise you hear, but if there is a radon system it could be the pipe and fan causing the gurgling noise.

I hope this has helped! You can always call the service department and ask questions without making an appoinment, but of course I do recommend an annual service if you have not had one in the past year. Overall, it sounds like if you had a CleanPump Stand, a new 2 piece lid and a new pump installed, you'd be all set.

On a side note: You may want to look into a dehumdifier (http://www.basementsystems.com/dehumidifier.html) for the basement as well. Rodents and insects don't care much for basement & crawlspaces with DRY air...they much prefer the damp ones!

11-17-2009, 03:50 PM
Yesterday I checked the outside discharge pipe where the slotted piece (to prevent freezing) connects to the drain pipe and it was dry. Granted, when I listened near the liner I could not hear much gurgling so possibly not enough water had accumulated to have the pump turn on, but my guess is that the pump has stopped working again. This weekend I will pull the pump again and check out the switch. Maybe the contacts just need a good cleaning as there was some mud-like deposits accumulated here and there on the pump.

My house was built in the mid '70's so I doubt I have a radon system of any sort. Supposedly the house has a curtain drain so the gurgling most likely is ground water; why it makes the gurgling sound is a mystery. But as I said, even when the pump was not working I did not have a water intrusion problem in the basement (fingers crossed and knock on wood) so hopefully this will remain the case until I can get the pump working/replaced.

I still am behind on bills so the possibility of having the system serviced now is slim. And while it would be nice to have the CleanPump stand and 2-piece cover, they are at this point a low priority. If I had to I could always cut the cover in two where the discharge pipe passes through. As far as the open hole goes, I think I have a rubber cork that will fit just fine.

Thanks for your prompt reply.

Charlene Bieber
11-18-2009, 12:26 PM
I understand perfectly. The reason I asked if a radon system was installed in the home is because when installed, they cut a small hole through the floor and stick a PVC pipe in the floor, that goes up and out of the house. Then there is a fan higher up on the pipe outside...this runs and pulls the radon gas from under the home...if there is water under the floor it can cause a gurgling sound when the fan runs. It definitely could be an old drain from under the house. If it's not causing problems at this time, just remember to ask the service tech about it when you eventually do have the system serviced. It could even be the check valve (http://www.basementsystems.com/sump-pump/check-valve.html) on the pump...hard to say without troubleshooting the system in person.

I wouldn't bother cutting the lid in half. The one you have is fine, the main benefit of having the new one is that the liner is easily accessible with the 2 piece lid and it has the floor drain. They have a special design so that they are airtight, don't fall into the liner and are very strong. Just plug the open hole on your lid and you're set until you can replace the lid in the future.

If you have any other questions, we're always here to help! Thanks & good luck!

11-19-2009, 04:00 PM
The gurgling is not the check valve because the gurgling was continuous while I had the pump out of the liner. I have an aquarium and the flow of water from the filter assembly into the tank makes the same sound.

Getting back to the water jetting from the pump, you mentioned that this is normal while the pump runs. But it is actually occuring after the float shuts the pump off. However I can't remember if the pump comes back on momentarily at the time the jetting occurs. I still don't believe it is backflow from the discharge pipe, however, because the jetting is very forceful, more than what might be expected from a 6' head of water in a 1.5" pipe (0.6 gallons). Also the jetting is as forceful the second (and sometimes third) time which would not happen if it was coming from the discharge pipe; it would diminish as the head of water dropped. I just can't figure out what the purpose of this water jetting is, other than to possibly clean the check valve of any potential obstruction before it seats.

Zoeller has an inline check valve with compression fittings that is installed on the discharge pipe. Would it be worthwhile installing one of these as a backup should the pump check valve fail?