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The sump pump sucks!

 

Well, yes-- they do suck but more importantly they also push.  In this case however the setup resulted in washing my camera which also sucked.

Whenever I find a sump, I like to verify that the thing turns on and functions if possible.  In this case the sump was about half way full of water and the float looked like it was just about to turn the pump on and suck out all the water.  I reached down and lifted the float and the pump kicked on and immediately drenched me, and my camera.

Someone had drilled a hole in the side of the pipe.  The pump now had a much harder job opening the back flow valve and pushing all the water ahead of the valve out of the pipe to empty the sump.  Instead the water was forced out of the hole in the side of the pipe where it then splashed all over everything.

 

Can you see the water streaming out the side of the pipe?

This is not the way a sump pump should work.

It will not be a difficult fix but someone will need to properly patch the hole.

 

Yesterday's Post:  some important information on Smoke Alarms

 

Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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Seattle Home Inspector

 

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Comment balloon 45 commentsCharles Buell • December 12 2013 01:45PM

Comments

Hi Charles,

Why in the world would they drill a hole in the pipe? Makes no sense. Was it a rusted hole or a drilled hole?

Easy fix though.

Have a great weekend in Seattle my friend.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 4 years ago

Hi Charles - sorry about your camera. That is a really unusual place for someone to drill a hole. Perhaps they used a leftover piece of pipe and didn't notice. But still how could you install it and test it without noticing. Nothing a little gum and electrical tape won't fix 

Posted by Jeff Fritzson: Frisco Real Estate Pro, Your Success is My Focus! (Jeff Fritzson Real Estate, Ebby Halliday Realtors) over 4 years ago

One thing I always want to see in a home with a basement is a well working sump pump. 

Posted by Lenn Harley, Real Estate Broker - Virginia & Maryland (Lenn Harley, Homefinders.com, MD & VA Homes and Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Clint, I have no clue---this was a drilled 1/4" hole in PVC.  Almost certainly had to be intentional.

Jeff, it will be as simple as cutting the pipe off at the hole and putting it back together with a coupling.  I would love to know the thought process behind it--then again perhaps not

Lenn, a dang good idea

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Wow!  The things that you see!  I lte that one to my hubby...lol

Posted by Kristin Johnston - REALTOR®, Giving Back With Each Home Sold! (RE/MAX Realty Center ) over 4 years ago

Another masterpiece of engineering Clint.

Posted by Bill and MaryAnn Wagner, Jersey Shore and South Jersey Real Estate (Wagner Real Estate Group) over 4 years ago

Hi Charles,

You were there and you are the expert but I have to agree with comment #1 it looks like a rust caused hole ?   Kinda reminded me of, I once had an old van where the power steering gear box ( the part on frame) rusted thru some really thick metal and squirted like crazy.  Either way, sure needs to be fixed.

Posted by Bill Dean, William Dean - Broker, Salesperson (Haggerty Team St. Louis, Mo.) over 4 years ago

Can't you judt wrap it 20-30 times with duck (duct) tape?  

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 4 years ago

Kristin, I bet your hubby would not do that

Bill and MaryAnn, or de-engineering

Bill D, nope---plastic pipe

Than, I am sure someone would try that approach

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

For the sake of humanity, I hope the hole was there because of what Jeff #2 stated. Otherwise, we're all doomed.

Posted by Suzanne Otto, Your Montgomery County PA home stager (Six Twenty Designs) over 4 years ago

Suzanne, perhaps so, but it is hard to immagine any reason for drilling a hole in a piece of PVC pipe that is to be installed in residential construction.  That is a cool thing about the human brain, it will figure out a reason to do lots of things that make no sense

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Charles, I've seen this as well and have not figured out why these holes would be there in the first place. If you get a good answer, let me know please. Sorry about the shower. 

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 4 years ago

Oh, you're not going to believe this.  I had clients who were going to purchase a home; they had an inspection, and one of the things the inspector noted was a hole in the sump pump pipe.  The seller indicated his plumber put the hole there on purpose.  The explanation was that when the sump pump has been through a dry spell and is then turned on the pump is inoperable if there is no place for the air to get out, so the pin hole is needed.  Supposedly once it starts working, the splashing of water is supposed to stop.

 

Posted by Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat (Grand Lux Realty, 914-419-0270, kat@thehousekat.com) over 4 years ago

Giving thanks that we do not have basements here :-)

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 4 years ago

Scott, I will indeed

Kat, until convinced otherwise I will lean toward the plumber smoking the funny stuff   The fact that nearly all sump pumps go through dry spells and that most function just fine without the holes tells me that there is something strange with them being necessary.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Could be simple if it could be reached Charles!  :)

It is a strange location for a hole though.

Posted by Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366, General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage (Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366) over 4 years ago

Tom, my camera certainly did not appreciate the hole much

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Fred, how did you sneak in there?   This particular one was in a crawl space--but I don't think you have any more of those than you do basements.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Here in New England our inspector says that every basement gets water and termite...it's a room underground  ....lol

Posted by David Popoff, Realtor®,SRS, Green ~ Fairfield County, Ct (DMK Real Estate ) over 4 years ago

Good in the business post...I had a submersible that would just clog up often. it could not handle anything but tissue paper and of course tenants push the limit on this

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 4 years ago

Now why would someone drill a hole there? Sounds like something the seller will end up fixing.

Posted by Bruce Swedal, Denver Real Estate over 4 years ago

Actually the hole is recommended in the absence of a back flow valve as I recall. It should be located lower so so nosy inspector does get a shower 

Posted by James Quarello, Connecticut Home Inspector (JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC) over 4 years ago

David, pretty much true

Richie, that sounds more like an ejector pump

Bruce, at least not a difficult fix

Jim, this had a back flow valve (visible at the top of the picture) and sumps typically require one to prevent short-cycling.  This thing had to work extra hard to open the valve and push the water out ahead of the valve all the while it was washing the inside of the sump and my camera

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

A sump pump splash back...on a camera no less...no fun! Owners will have to fix that.

Posted by Vanessa Saunders, From Manhattan to the Catskills of New York (Global Property Systems Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Hi Charles - I like the classy sump pump cover too - makes a lot of sense leaving a pool of water exposed in the basement, it could work well as a rodent trap.

Posted by Dick Greenberg, Northern Colorado Residential Real Estate (New Paradigm Partners LLC) over 4 years ago

Grwing up lived in a house that had a sump pump. Haven't seen one in Florida. Looks like an easy fix.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max Southern Realty) over 4 years ago

Vanessa, it won't be difficult

Dick, in this case it actually had a very nice cover which I had removed to get access to the float

Bill, without crawl spaces and basements the need for sump pumps probably goes way down.  Probably not too many door to door sump pump sales people in Florida

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

I had the same question as Clint. I couldn't understand the motivation for drilling the hole. It takes all kinds, huh?

Posted by Jason Crouch, Broker - Austin Texas Real Estate (512-796-7653) (Austin Texas Homes, LLC) over 4 years ago

Bummer... Can't imagine why someone would drill a whole in the pipe. I mean, knowing what the pump is supposed to do, why? Hope your camera is okay.

Posted by Rene Fabre, Marketing in the Digital Age (First American Title) over 4 years ago

Jason, I would love to know the motivation as well

René, yes---the camera is fine--it sure did pump, the picture does not do it justice

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

That drill hole doesn't make sense to me either.  Did you figure it out?

Posted by Evelyn Johnston, The People You Know, Like and Trust! (Friends & Neighbors Real Estate) over 4 years ago

Evelyn, not other than the hole should not be there

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Chewing gum.  Always an appropriate fix.  Since the water can get mucky, I recommend mint.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, that might make a good "spit-ball" when the pump turns on

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Charles, I think the reason is that he wanted to make sure that water was flowing. Just kidding, of course. There's no telling what a crazy homeowner might do I guess!

Posted by Tom White, Franklin Homes Realty LLC, Franklin TN (Franklin Homes Realty LLC (615) 495-0752 or www.FranklinHomesRealty.com) over 4 years ago

I can just imagine a couple guys sitting around drinking a few beers thinking of ways to fix the pump and somehow came upon getting the drill out and the it just led from there. Lesson of the story is never drink and drill.

Posted by Aaron Hofmann, aka Mr. Smyrna Vinings (Atlanta Communities) over 4 years ago

Well, if I remember my old Bic pen and 7th grade, what is better than a good spit ball?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

Tom, your guess is as good as mine I think

Aaron, wise words

Jay, I can still see the little dots of red all over the school bus roof from Twizzlers red licorice tubes

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Ahhh, childhood!  Funny, I remember the red Twizzlers in various hairdos in class or on the bus...

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 4 years ago

I have heard that the hole is drilled to prevent the pump from cavatitation and damage to the pump. It makes sense to me. 

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) over 4 years ago

Jay, there is nothing quite like a bee hive with red dots

Juan, I have heard that too and yet I think that cavitation is a difficult thing to achieve in a residential sump pump.  Really the only time air would get traped is during dry spells and most sumps are designed to flood the impella.  The slightest pressure agains the check valve should leak held back water into the sump as well.  Just seems too odd to me---or we would see it on every sump--even built into the pump mechanism somehow.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

Before home inspections, I was a hydraulics quality assurance tech for helicopters. If any pump ran for more than a few seconds with no hydraulic fluid in the system, it was toast.  This happens when after a sytem is worked on, and someone forgets to service it before testing.

Granted sump pumps are much different, if they don't have water in them when operating it make sense to me that damage can be caused.  It may not happen often, but the pricnciple is logical so personally, seeing a hole in the discharge pipe would not make me recommend repair.

Since it isn't required, I can also understand your argument.

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) over 4 years ago

I agree Juan that sump pumps should not be run when dry, but my thinking around this was that with it blowing so much water back into the sump that it will be more difficult for it to open the check valve and push the head of water out of the pipe---as well as make the pump run a good deal longer as it pumps the water twice or more.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

If the hole was too big I could see that as being an issue, but when the pump is pushing against the check valve, and the only place to for the water to go is the tiny hole, it is going to push through the valve.

I think both theories are sound which is why I don't recommend repair of the hole, or holes be added when there are none. It isn't required, but it isn't prohibited either, and both scenarios make sense. I tend to believe having the hole is the better method though.

Posted by Juan Jimenez, The Richmond Home Inspector (A House on a Rock Home Inspections LLC) over 4 years ago

Juan, yes, and why my report reads:  I recommend evaluation/repairs as deemed necessary by a licensed plumber or other qualified party.

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 4 years ago

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