Tuesday, January 15, 2013

I Gotta Clean That Sump Pump Pit Out. . . . .

Why?  I don't know. The only time the pump has run in the previous two years is when I emptied water into the pit to make sure the pump still worked (and to make sure the rubber gaskets were not drying out)! The two years before this winter, the pump was pumping water out every 90 to 120 seconds - and I was going to panic if it should quit on me. The two years before that it was pumping water out of the pit about every 30 minutes in the winter.  It starts working towards the end of October and ends around mid/late March.

I live on the very edge of a Zone A flood plain - yup have that expensive FEMA flood insurance. We are just 2 blocks from the main stream channel of Big Creek - i.e. in our location the city's lake that has a very old dam.

In the past the lake has been relatively full - 3 and 4 years ago the lake was extremely full; now its virtually empty, except down by the dam. Three/four years ago, out west experienced a lot of rain as well as the watershed between WaKeeney and here resulting in an over-abundance of water.

Fortunately, I had a new sump pump installed when I purchased this house 7 years ago.  During the winter months, I learned that when the vegetation - mainly trees - cease to need water, the water from the fullish lake seeps somewhere as the ground is porous and it is usually not frozen down that far. So anyone that has a basement/cellar in the vicinity of the lake, needs a sump pump.
Trap door to get down to the cellar.

In the spring, when the trees and vegetation with deep roots start their annual "wake-up", they start soaking up the water that is seeping through the ground from the lake; and, this continues all summer in to the fall time. Once again the water has to go somewhere.

If one has a basement/cellar, unless you have put waterproofing means around your walls, the water is going to come in through those walls - mine are large limestone rock squares that has had cement applied to the surface.
Stairs down to cellar w/sump pump pit.
My cellar, is just that - a cellar that probably many decades ago was a root cellar, a storm shelter as it use to have an outside entrance (the house was built in 1919 and we are in Kansas and we have tornadoes). Now just the water heater and furnace are down there and up on blocks.

Three and four years ago, I experienced a constantly flooded cellar in the winter months.  I could see the water coming through the walls and bubbling up through cracks in the floor. If those 2 appliances hadn't been up on blocks, they would have had 1-2 inches of water inside them. And, since they were up on blocks when I bought the house, the cellar has obviously been flooded in the past too.

Cleaned out and checked - it works! Isn't this exciting?
For the past two winters, the sump pump has not come on and suddenly I wake up Saturday morning with the thought I needed to get down there and clean the pebbles, sand, dead crickets out of that sump pump's pit so it won't get stopped up? I did clean it out, but I'd rather not listen to that thing coming on at all.

Yes, there have been two major floodings - the last one in 1993 and one in 1957. Do you suppose . . . .


  1. As the old boy scout motto says, Be prepared.
    Where we live, no one has a basement due to the groundwater. The telephone co. central office I worked in for years is the only building I know of with a basement. It was equiped with three sump pumps and they ran almost continously all year long.

    1. Know what you mean about high groundwater - one year, stuck a finger in the ground and it immediately filled with water. That was a "squishy" summer. Ours groundwater is around 6 feet, why sump pumps are necessary with these old houses built in the "valley".

  2. I've also never had a basement or cellar due to groundwater, so am intrigued by them. If you got a sudden urge to make sure your pump was in good shape, I would expect you will need it sometime soon. Will be interesting to see if that's the case.

    1. I have only lived in one house with a basement and that house wasn't anywhere near water or had a high groundwater; so, having a sump pump has been an experience. Thank heavens this one is on the quiet side. Yes, it will be interesting to see if the "urge" pans out. In fact, this is the first time I have cleaned it out. But, I listen when a gut feeling, or urge, comes along.

  3. Hi, our sump pump is not draining properly and half of our basement was flooded. Any ideas of what could be wrong? Any responses are very much appreciated.