Completely sealed sump has me worried

neilwMarch 15, 2010

My sump is completely sealed (covered and caulked.) I believe it was probably done as part of a Radon remediation system installed by a previous owner.

Right now, as we speak, the crazy northeastern storm has the water level about 4" from the top of the sump hole; to my knowledge, my sump pump had never even turned on before this past weekend. It's fighting gamely to keep up, having run continuously for the last four days, and it just might squeak through, but it has me very nervous.

What's most bothersome is that the sealed sump:

(a) makes it impossible to toss in a secondary pump just in an emergency situation, like now. I bought a little submersible pump at HD that I was going to throw in just to give the sump pump a little help if the water levels got any higher, but I'd have to cut a ton of caulk to get in there, and wouldn't be confident I could do the whole thing without disturbing the existing pump, and right now that is the last thing I'd want to do.

(b) If my pump fails, it's going to be hard to effect any sort of quick repair. I mean, it's possible obviously, but it's going to be a lot harder than I would like.

Is there a reasonable way to deal with a totally sealed sump hole? Should I get the cover removed and replaced with something less draconian? In a Radon-remediated basement, is it hopeless to ever really have easy access to the sump pump? Should I just install a back-up pump, re-install the cover, and hope that's good enough?

I'm trying to figure out a reasonable approach here; even if I make it through this particular storm intact, I'd like to be in a better position to deal with future situations. Any input would be appreciated.

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homebound

It should not take long to empty the sump pit - sounds like you need a new pump asap.

Sewage ejectors are usually sealed (but not with caulk), but not sump lids. One should check and test them yearly.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 9:49AM
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neilw

From what I've gathered online, sealed sump lids are not uncommon when radon remediation is applied. Whether they're all as fully caulked up as mine, I don't know.

I'm not sure I know how to tell if my pump is working at full capacity or not. It certainly is pumping water. If the ground water is really rising up, is it fair to assume that the pump will always be able to keep up?

I guess I'll have to find out who installed the radon system and talk to them about the sump cover. I'm afraid to mess with it on my own.

In the meantime, the water level in the sump hole is definitely dropping, so it looks as though trouble is averted for now.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2010 at 10:27AM
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brickeyee

If the pit is completely sealed it needs a vent.

Sewage ejector pits are required to be vented.
Part is for sewer gases, but the other purpose is so that air can move into the pit as the water is removed.

If the pit ids very well sealed against air entry the pum,p may run until it removes enough water to create a vacuum the pump can no longer overcome.

The pump then just operates at stall with the water in the pump's rotor cavity whirring around in circles but not exiting.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2010 at 8:45PM
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