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Education Question - Sumps & Pumps

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Okay, I grew up in central Ohio. We had a basement, but I never paid much attention to what was down there. For all of my adult life, I've lived in coastal areas that don't have basements, or even crawlspaces for that matter. Anyway, reading through the book and it's talking about foundation drainage systems. If I walk into a basement where do I begin to look for a sump drain? In all reality, I'll probably never see a basement, but still want to know all of the particulars. Like GI Joe says...knowing is half the battle.

Semper Fi - Mike

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Kurt and Terry are correct, however it is all about words when you are talking about sumps and pumps. For instance, Terry suggests "basement waterproofing systems" for search term. Sumps and pumps can be a part of basement waterproofing systems, however foundation drainage systems and moisture control systems are two other terms commonly used and they are not the same.

Most modern houses (40yrs)will have a footing drainage system and some will have a sump to collect the water and some will have a pump to discharge the water.

Kurt is showing you a sump with pump on the left and a sump with pump on the right, but they are very different; left handles ground water from footing drain and right one handles sewage (grinds it and ejects it). Left is an open system that should discharge to atmosphere and right is sealed and should discharge to sanitary sewer.

From inspection viewpoint, you need to know the proper configurations, safety features, components and what they are actually doing.

It is real simple - but can be very complicated and can certainly get you in a world of trouble as an inspector.

I review about a hundred+- inspections per year for litigation and the mis-use of terms and functions of these systems is quite common and frustrating.

Oh ya - throw in the fact some radon mitigation guys use the sump for a collection point and use same electrical circuit, piping, etc.. Seen several radon systems installed in ejector sumps.

Please do not take this response as a complete answer, just a little carping about our business. There is lots of stuff here on TIJ and the net.

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The guys that answered are the best in the business, but for folks like me a simpler explanation is sometinmes helpful.

1)Permeable layer (usually sone/gravel) under basement slab.

2)Drain tile in ditch around perimeter of basment, and exterior of foundation covered with stone and leading to the sump/crock/collection point. Drain tile is like flexible abs plastic that's been perforated..it creates an unobstructed conduit for water to flow.

3)All grading beneath stone pitches to crock/sump/collection point.

4) Water runs down hill. When the sump is full of water a pump kicks on and pumps it out of the basement...preferably to a neighbor's yard or other suitable area.

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Good answers all, but I can't get on board with those who say that all basements leak. And if 95% of basements have sumps in them in Terry's neck of the woods I'd say that either they have an extremely high water table or they have an issue with builder education and quality control. They don't build on slabs where I grew up in New York. My old man put in hundreds of foundations and I don't recall a single customer that ever complained about water infiltration back there.

I do think a lot of it has to do with where one lives and the local building customs though. Some places build foundations almost exclusively with CMU's and in my mind those have to be more prone to problems than a full-cast. Out here in Seattle, it's pretty rare that I find an absolutely dry basement. They don't seem to "get" basements here so much.



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Building bsmt's. that don't leak is easy; it just costs money. W/the range of subgrade waterproofing systems that are available, there is no good reason for bsmt's. to be wet.

The problem comes from builder's budgets, lack of education, & the continual choice of buyers for "luxury" components over underlying fundamentals of good construction.

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Here in my part of VA, we don't install sump pump's if the basement is a walkout, but almost always if the basement is an inground type. The difference being that the walkout will have daylighted foundation drains when it is built.

The problem comes in when over the years, or when the home is final graded they fill in or cover up the ends of the pipes. When it is a daylighted foundation, I always try and locate the ends of the pipes for my customer, if I can't I inform them of the importanace of these pipes and that they need to be opened up and kept that way.

I built my home and the only time I had any water in my basement was after one of the hurricanes hit my area and sure enough I had not done the very mainatnce that I inform my cutomers of.

Tom Barber in VA

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