When the builder excavated for my home, the hole filled in with a half foot of water. (They said I have a "perched water table".)

To "Fix" this the builder put rocks under my house and put in piping for a pump at the lower side of the house.

For the first few years my pump would turn on during the spring. Then, 3 years ago, it started running in the summer and fall.

For the last two years it has been running off and on in about 5 minute spurts. (It is on for about 5 mins then off for about 4.) It is pumping out a two inch pipe. Though I have not measured it, it is a lot of water!

I have tried moving up the bubble switch that controls the pump, but it seemed to have little effect.

If my pump is off for 30 minutes, then my basement starts to get wet!

Is there anything that can be done for this? A kind of company to call, or ... anything?

I don't even know where to start.

NOTE: If this does not count as "Home Improvement" I apologize. Let me know and I will delete my post.

  • Can you see where the discharge pipe from pump is going? I would first look to see if it is discharging with alot of power and that the water is not draining back towards house.
    – Justin K
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:36
  • @JustinK - I have it discharging into the gutter.
    – Vaccano
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:43
  • So it comes out of the house and into your down spout? where does the downspout go? check where ever the water is going to for good flow. Some houses have gutters and sump pump going into under ground drain field this or the pipe going to it could be clogged
    – Justin K
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:55
  • @JustinK - I have a hole on the west (lower) side of my house. The water fills the hole (from the ground water), and I pump it (via pipe) to the sidewalk gutter at the edge of my property. That runs down the road to the storm drain. (When I said gutter, I did not mean the gutters around my roof, but rather the ones by the roads.)
    – Vaccano
    Mar 2 '14 at 0:03
  • First you want to make sure your sumb pump is operating properly. So you have 20+ gpm going down street? That is about 2-4 times the water coming from an outside spigot?
    – Justin K
    Mar 2 '14 at 1:09

Contact three or four local drainage contractors and ask if they will come out and give you a quote to solve the problem. You'll learn what methods they would employ, their guarantee, and cost. Then you can make an informed decision.


Yes, this is definitely home improvement material.

What's the terrain like around your house? Could you dig a trench sloping downhill from the low point in your basement to "daylight" (ie, somewhere, like a ditch the water could drain away to without a pump?)

As for it getting worse, could something have clogged up to cause more water to come in - your gutter drains, or a leak from the pipe from the pump itself (so it's pumping the same water in circles, not away from the house) or something like that? And, in general, does the ground around your house slope away from the house, at least for the first 12 ft / 4m away from the walls?

Of course, if you are in/near Salt Lake, you could probably just connect your pipe to a water truck and make money off the leaky basement....it's a heck of a nice problem to have in a desert climate, looked at the right way.

Edit: What you appear to think you want (per comments) is called a "curtain drain" and consists of an intercepting drain (free draining material and a perforated pipe) on the uphill side, perhaps with an impervious barrier sheet towards the house (not really needed if the drain is constructed properly.) As stated in my comments, I don't think you have a real need for that, though you could confirm with a local civil engineer if that helps to settle your concerns. Due to the depth and extent of excavation required, hiring a contractor is generally the best way to install one of those. My concern in your situation would be the cost of constantly running the pump, not the water it's pumping passing under the house, since rock and pipes were placed there to direct it. Would you happen to have any construction photos? - We can evaluate the rock/pipe/drain setup if you have a picture of it. Depending how it was done, you might well be able to speak with the civil engineer that designed it, if it was done in a typical urban fashion.

  • My house has slopes running away from it on the front and back. The east side is flat and is the highest point. The west is also flat and is the lowest point (that is where my pump is).
    – Vaccano
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:47
  • I am not sure what kind of trench I can dig, but I will think on it and see if I can... It would have to be very deep. There is at least 6 feet of dirt from ground level to the bottom of my house on the East (uphill) side.
    – Vaccano
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:48
  • My area of Salt Lake City had secondary water for very cheep. I sadly I doubt I would make much off a water truck.
    – Vaccano
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:50
  • I doubt I am pumping in circles. It goes to my gutter that is excellent repair and that feeds into a storm drain.
    – Vaccano
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:51
  • You'd want to dig on the low side - the question being, is the slope such that when you dig down on the west side you can dig outwards (north or south, I guess, since they slope away) and the water will drain, or is there nowhere that's lower than the basement to dig towards in a reasonable distance?
    – Ecnerwal
    Mar 1 '14 at 23:52

I apologize for the length of this response.

I share your concerns with water under the house. In summer of 2009 I added to the back of my house which was built slab-on-grade in other words no basement, just a small crawl space. The addition was 20 x 22 and I put in an 8ft basement. During excavation, there was water at the 7ft level and we dug 9ft to the clay. We filled with 6" crushed stone over all plus inside the footings. During the footing install we had some water and used a transfer pump every 2 days for 15mins to empty. Drainage 4" Big O was installed inside and outside the footings draining to drainable aggregate away from the house. During the fall and winter, sump pump only ran a few times for a bout 3-4 sessions.

In January of 2010 the pump ran much more often and I had a 2nd pump just in case. In the spring thaw it was heavier again but never posed a threat. January 2011, the flow was greater and 2nd pump kicked in and out with primary running full time. Spring 2011, same thing with except that not only primary running full time, but 2nd began running full time but didn't over flow the pit. When 2nd began to run intermittently, I went away for a day and a half and came home to 52" water in my basement with one pump still running. It appears that the flow was too much for the two pumps, floated some wood which kicked off the pump switch at 45" off the floor and shut off the primary pump.

I had to start up the gas transfer pump and get the water down below 12", power off the hydro panel so I could trip the breakers for 2 freezers, dehumidifier and the line to the secondary pump, plug in an extension cord to outside and re-start both pumps. (The freezers in the water did not trip the breaker plus an extension cord was under water at the time of discovery so I couldn't enter the water until I could power off the panel running the pumps.) Flood loss - $12,000. Insurance covered only $9000.

Following that, I purchased a larger pump as primary(3800gph) to run with a secondary at 2250gph. I then had a contractor dig a trench on the low side and installed a catch basin and 3 - 100ft Big O pipes, two solid and one perforated. I perforated the solids along the 20ft part of the basement so all 3 would gather water and send it away.

Not trusting the secondary pump for much longer, I purchased another larger pump, this time a 4200gph and installed it as primary with 3800gph as secondary in Spring 2012. January and Spring 2012 and 2013 have been okay with the exception of 2013 spring, we had a 12min power failure and flooded 2" in the basement before I could get the gas pump primed and running. I have since acquired and set up a manual generator back up that will take about 4 minutes to operation(as long as I am home).

So, in summary, the drain lines are adequate all year round except the January and Spring thaws. The pumps are only activated for the excess and January 2014 the secondary pump never came on. Just when I thought I was getting ahead of Mother Nature, she keeps me on my toes. I live at the base of an escarpment that rises 400ft behind me. This year was extremely heavy for snow and as I write this, I am hoping that the peak run-off is behind me. My primary pump is currently back to running 4.5 minutes and off for 1.5 minutes as the flow has settled down. My pump started running 09Apr14 with the primary(4200gph) running full time from 10Apr through today 13Apr at 7am. The cost for the 3 drain lines was $2500 a premium for where I live in the bush with trees all around. So, depending on your area you may or may not experience as high a cost. Another time I would rent a bobcat to do the job myself and if it took me a week, my cost would be $1400 at current rates.

All the best with yours. Feel free to respond if you have any further questions.

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