As you may already know, the sump pit is a vital construction in your home or business space which ensures that excess water or any other spilled fluid outside your building does not leak back into your building.
Ideally, the sump pit collects water from outside your building, and then channels the water into an external drainage using the sump pump.
But there are times when water constantly flows into the sump pit or remains above normal levels in the pit, even though there is no visible or excess water outside your building.
Why does this happen, and how do you fix it? Read on to find out all you need to know in clear detail.
Why Is There A Constant Water Flow Into Sump Pit?
1. High Water Table
One of the most common reasons why your sump pit is constantly filled with water is because there is high water table in your building. In order to understand how a high water table can cause constant flow of water in your sump pit, it is important to first understand what Water Table is, and how it affects water levels in your building and by extension, water levels in your sump pit.
Water table can be a complex geographical concept but I have explained it in as simple terms as possible.
In architectural terms, water table is an underground boundary between the saturated zone and the unsaturated zone in the soil.
The saturated zone, which is also in the lower side of the boundary, has every space in the soil filled with water. Essentially, the saturated zone is below the water table (boundary) and is filled mostly with water and oxygen.
The unsaturated zone, which is above the water table (boundary), is mostly filled with oxygen rather than water. This is why it is also called the Aeration Zone.
The shape, and especially the height of this water table is determined mostly by the shape of the land that lies above it. So, if the land is hilly, the water table is higher. If it is a valley, the water table is a lot lower.
Also, if the building is close to springs or other sources of underground water, the water table will also be higher than average.
Water table and sump pit: Now, remember that the purpose of a sump pit is to collect excess water from around the building and channel them into an external drainage. So if the water table is higher than it should be, the underground water will seep into the sump pit as excess water from around the building.
This means that even though there is no visible excess water outside your building, the high water levels caused by the high water table will be seen by the sump pit as excess water.
Fix – Raise the sump pit position
The first, and probably most cost-effective solution for this water table issue, is to raise the position of the sump pit.
Raising the sump pit to be well above the water table around your building will stop the underground water from flowing into the pit.
Fix 2 – Upgrade to higher quality sump pump
The next best option is to upgrade the quality of the sump pump. As I explained earlier, the sump pump is responsible for pumping the excess water away from the sump pit into an external drainage. This happens when the water level in the sump pit reaches a point that is deemed dangerous for your building.
Getting a high-quality, high horsepower sump pump (view on Amazon) will pump most of the extra water away from the sump pit even in areas of high water table.
Recommendation: If you are living in an area with particularly-high water table levels or areas that are prone to flooding, then I recommend getting a powerful 3/4 HP sump pump or a 1 HP sump pump. This power of sump pump is also ideal for buildings with very low basements.
If you live in an area with above-average water table, I recommend a lower-power ½ HP sump pump.
The idea is to not over-provision or under-provision sump pumps for your bulding so as to avoid constant pump cycles and quick burnout of the sump pump.
Fix 3 – Install extra sump pump
If replacing your current sump pump with a higher-quality, high-horsepower pump does not fix the high water table issues for you, then I recommend installing an extra sump pump in another area of the building as a last resort.
It is true that this will inevitably mean extra electricity bills for you, but it may be a better inconvenience than the potential damage caused by flooding in your building.
2. Blocked Discharge Line
When your sump pit collect excess water from your building, the sump pump discharges the water into external drainage through discharge lines.
For this system to work properly, the discharge lines have to be completely free of any blockages.
I have found that a lot of the time, the reason for constant water in your sump pit is because the discharge lines are blocked, making it impossible for the collected water to be pumped away from the pit.
Common causes of blockages in discharge lines include:
- Mineral deposits
- Frozen water
Fix – Unblock the discharge lines
To clear the discharge lines, I recommend hiring the services of an expert. The expert will thoroughly examine the discharge lines with the right equipment, detect blockages, and eliminate them safely without damaging the lines.
When you rid the discharge lines of blockages, the sump pump will start to pump collected water in the pit away from your building and into the external drainage.
3. Issue With Sump Pump Float Sensor
In order for the sump pump to detect water levels in the pit and pump excess water away, it is often equipped with a float sensor.
When the level of water in the sump pit reaches a certain level, this sump pump float sensor automatically initiates the pump cycle to remove the excess water.
Therefore, if the float sensor in the sump pump is faulty, it will not detect high levels of water in the sump pit leading to the constant water you see in the pit.
Fix – Fix or replace the float sensor
When it comes to sump pump float sensors, I do not recommend a DIY. Contact the right professional to examine the sump pump and determine if the float sensor (view on Amazon) needs to be fixed or replaced completely.
If this cannot be done at the time, you can manually turn on the sump pump to pump the excess water away, especially during heavy rainfall or snow. Then, contact a professional as soon as you can.
It is important to note at this point that not all sump pumps come with a float sensor. If yours does not, then try the other fixes detailed below.
4. Malfunctioning Check Valve
Unlike the float sensor, all sump pumps do come with a check valve. The check valve is placed within the discharge line and is responsible for ensuring that water or any other fluid does not flow back into the pit even after the pump is turned off.
If the check valve malfunctions, water that was pumped away may flow back into the pit when the pump is turned off. This causes water to constantly remain in the sump pit.
Also, a malfunctioning check valve may also cause the pump to overheat and burn out as its tries to pump the returning water away all the time.
Fix – Fix or replace check valve (view on Amazon)
Get a service engineer to examine the check valve and either fix it or replace it entirely.
NOTE: Another important thing to check at this point is the positioning of the check valve. Ideally, the check valve should be located as close to the floor level as possible.
The reasons for this positioning are:
- It will reduce the chances of water flowing back into the sump pump after a pump cycle
- Provides ease of access for servicing
NOTE: When replacing your check valve, please bear the following in mind:
There are mainly two types of check valves namely
- Gravity check valve
- Spring-loaded clear valve.
Gravity check valves are generally cheaper and work very well with sump pump battery backup systems. They are also generally more energy efficient because they do not require a lot of water to initiate the system.
Spring-loaded clear valves allow visibility into the sump pump system so that you can see if the water is pumping out properly. And, if you’re worried about noise, then this kind of valve system is ideal because the spring ensures minimal noise during operation.
5. General Plumbing Issues
Burst pipes, broken sewer lines, and other plumbing issues are also a major cause of constant water in your sump pit.
The sump pit is supposed to collect excess water from around your building especially in the case of spillage, heavy rainfall and heavy snow. So, water should stop flowing into the pit when all the excess water has been pumped away. Well, ideally.
But, if you have plumbing issues such as broken pipes, broken sewer lines, faulty sprinkler systems and so on, the water flowing to the sump pit remains constant.
Therefore, when you are certain that none of the other factors listed above is the cause of the issue, it is time to examine your plumbing and make sure that there are no broken pipes anywhere.
Fix – Check and fix plumbing issues
Broken pipes may not always be immediately obvious because the damage may be internal or even underground.
Make sure to enlist the services of a competent plumber to thoroughly examine above-ground and underground plumbing systems, and fix any damages to your plumbing.