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while a sump pump is really not necessary in this house
because it didn't look like it was ever flooded (due to
weather a basement "sump pump" is a good thing to have in
case a pipe breaks while you're not home. If you have
furniture or electronics in the basement, it's a good idea
to have a sump pump
. This house came
with one, but it was only partially installed, and the hole
that it was in was full of rocks and sand (the plastic liner
didn't have a bottom). What happens when a sump pump starts
up and it's surrounded by rocks and debris? It tears itself
apart in short order; that's what happens!
first order of business was to get the debris out of the
hole. After that, I dug up (vacuumed up) approximately a
cubic yard of rocks and sand until I discovered that the
sump-pump liner didn't have a plastic bottom. I knew this
when the corrugated plastic sides ended, and dirt was all
that was there.
solution was to install a cement "floor" for the liner....
but how does one make a level "floor" 3 feet in a hole? You
can't use a trowel to make the cement level because you
can't get a trowel down that far, you have no point of
reference (nobody's depth perception is that accurate) and
the angle is wrong, and nobody's wrists bend backwards 90
most people don't know this, but my late father taught me
well.... cement "dries" under water. That's because cement
is not "glue"; what "sets" it is a
not air evaporating the water. Cement doesn't "dry"; it
So, I went to Lowe's and got a 50-pound bag of Quick-setting
cement. When I got back home, I poured the entire bag (dry)
into the hole, which gave me about 4 inches all around. I
then filled the hole with an equal volume of water, and
stirred it for a few minutes with a long stick. Then to mix
the cement really well, I used the exhaust hose on my wet /
dry vacuum cleaner to "stir-the-turd" so-to-speak;
blowing cement bubbles and splashing cement all over the
sides of the liner. I ended up with a very "loose" mixture
of cement, which, I figured, should settle evenly and level
with the bottom of the hole. If it wasn't for the 4-foot
deep hole, I would have had to jump in the shower
immediately; as you can see the plastic liner is completely
covered in cement. This will come off with a garden hose
once it's dry.
I "blew bubbles" into the cement mix with the vacuum cleaner
exhaust, there was enough water on top of the cement so that
anything that didn't get wet, would eventually get wet by
seepage. By using the Shop Vac® exhaust to
mix the cement and water, the cement became thoroughly mixed
with the underlying layer of rocks and sand that were loose, and flowed into
all the cracks and crevices between the liner and the dirt
floor. There was approximately an inch of water sitting on
top of the cement after I "stirred" it with the vacuum
cleaner exhaust. Now, I waited.
about an hour or so, the cement had leveled-out by itself, and set. The
surface of it was smooth and level. Good foundation for the
diagram at the left shows the difference between a sump pump
liner that has a plastic "bottom", and one that doesn't.
Functionally, they're identical, but the one that has no bottom is cheaper and easier to install. If the sump pump
liner is merely a corrugated plastic tube, as was the case
in the house I just bought, the pump would be sitting on a
layer of dirt. This poses two problems:
1) The pump is not
sitting on a stable base, and erosion of the dirt bottom
could possibly cause the pump to tip on its side.
time the pump activates, it would be pumping mud from the
floor of the sump pump hole, and could possibly be damaged
by small rocks and abrasive debris.
is the sump pump hole in my house after I dug out all the
loose rocks and debris, which amounted to about a cubic yard
before I was able to see that the liner had no bottom.
on the bottom in the photo is 50 pounds of quick-setting
cement, poured in dry, and wet with an equal volume of water.
It was "mixed" by initially stirring with a long stick, then
"bubbled" using the exhaust-end of a Shop-Vac®. The sides of
the liner are spattered with loose cement from the
water seeps into the ground below the cement, the cement
seeks its "level", distributing itself evenly across the
bottom of the liner. Since the mixture is loose, the cement
will seek to fill any small cracks in the liner, and will
conform itself perfectly to the un-even surface ("floor") of
sand and rocks it is sitting on. It will cure perfectly
level if the mixture had enough water in it to be very loose
when it was "mixed" in place.
Loosely-mixed cement will cure just as well as cement that
is mixed in the conventional manner, so long as the
components of the mixture are not permitted to wash away. In
this case, there is nowhere for the lighter components of
the cement mixture to go, and so the cement will cure
perfectly level without anyone doing any fancy
photo shows the pump installed on a dry cement floor inside
the "bilge hole".
pump should be placed off-center as much as possible (yellow
in order to allow the float switch (green
full movement from the floor of the sump to its fully
extended (floating) position. If the float switch gets
"hung-up" in either direction, the pump will not work
properly. If it gets caught on the side of the hole as the
hole fills, the pump might not turn on when the sump is
full. If the float switch gets caught as the water is being
pumped out, the pump might never turn off (run
continuously). The former scenario is a lot worse than the
latter if you should have a leak or a flood.
is a check valve (red
right at the pump outlet. This valve allows water to flow
only one way; away from the pump. This means that the output
hose will always be full of water once the pump is
shows the pump just after it finished pumping out the entire
sump ‒ which was filled to within 6 inches of the top. Some residual
water always remains in a sump-pump system. it will seep
into the concrete floor and evaporate.
shows an adapter that was originally installed on the pump.
In order not to misplace it, I used a tie-wrap to secure it
to the pump handle; just in case it is needed later.
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