Author Topic: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter  (Read 970 times)

webguy

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Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« on: February 09, 2019, 03:47:59 PM »
Our sump pump has been running about every 10 minutes all winter, despite the freezing temps, and Iím concerned thereís an issue. It discharges water from the sump successfully and the water leaves the discharge pipe outside the house about 20 feet from the foundation. The discharge line is heated so it wonít freeze. The sump just continually refills and is pumped out every 10 mins. Weíre in Minnesota and itís been a cold winter, the ground has to be frozen solid. Weíve only lived in the house for a year and a half and I donít remember whether this happened last winter.

Does anyone have any insight into why this might be happening, and if itís something to be concerned about? We had a basement flood in our last house and thatís the last thing I want again. Iím considering contacting a basement company to come inspect things but figured Iíd try running it by my fellow mustachians first as Iím always amazed by how knowledgeable you lot are!

RetiredAt63

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2019, 04:37:09 PM »
How is the drainage at the foundation?  Water can run down the side of the house and drain into the basement, especially if you get days above freezing.

justchristine

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2019, 05:31:39 AM »
Is it a submersible pump or is it up above the pit?  We had problems with our last pedastal pump because the float was set too high.  It ran constantly but never for long so the pit was never emptying enough to let all the water drain into from the foundation.  We eventually replaced it with a submersible and it doesn't run nearly as much. Although it has been running multiple times each day all winter and we live in WI...so probably as cold as you.

mies

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2019, 06:11:30 AM »
Do you have a check valve on your discharge pipe? If you do, it's possible the check valve is worn out and letting the residual water in your discharge pipe drain back into your sump. That can be fixed pretty easily with $10, a trip to Home Depot, and a screw driver.

big_owl

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #4 on: February 10, 2019, 06:22:46 AM »
OP straight up says the pump is working properly and discharging water from the pipe external to the house...

Sounds to me like it's working just fine and the issue is water seeping into the basement. 

Reynolds531

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2019, 08:39:18 AM »
I blow all the snow away from my foundation. Less water  within 20 feet means fewer issues.

soccerluvof4

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2019, 11:18:50 AM »
Alot of precipitation over the last year in both Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin. Perhaps the water table has come up. Place a brick under the pump to raise it 3-4 inches and see if your on the edge of the height of the water table. What is the area around you made up of? marsh land? lakes? etc.. Are you on flat land or have a walkout? etc.. I had the same situation in a house where my pump never ran in the summer but only in the winter. That was my fix so worth a try. If your discharging 20' away from house and have enough pitch its far enough in my opinion to not be that.

MDM

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2019, 08:53:25 PM »
Weíve only lived in the house for a year and a half and I donít remember whether this happened last winter.

Does anyone have any insight into why this might be happening, and if itís something to be concerned about?
Do you know where it is refilling from?  E.g., do you have a constant flow furnace humidification unit that drains to the sump?

Have you looked into the bottom of the sump (using a flashlight if needed) to see where the water is coming from?

Have you ruled out a leak in your fresh water supply line to the house?

Prairie Stash

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2019, 08:13:30 AM »
The top layer of the ground is frozen; underneath that is just regular ground. At the level of your sump, the ground is definitely not frozen. It sounds to me like you had high amounts of rain last year. Something that would raise the water table up to the level of your sump pump.

There are more rivers and lakes under the ground then above. Do you or any of your neignbours have water wells? What depth do they go to, then adjust the neighbours depth to your elevation. For example where I grew up our house was approximately 30 feet higher in elevation than a neigbour 10 miles away. Our well had to go down 40 feet, theirs a mere 10. Since their basement went down 7' that meant they we're only 3' above the underground river/lake  connecting us. Their house was prone to flooding in wet years if the water table rose.

Water wells tell the story of underground water levels. In a city people don't have wells, but then you can just ask the neighbours if its normal.

Goldy

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2019, 12:33:09 PM »
Alot of precipitation over the last year in both Minnesota and Northern Wisconsin. Perhaps the water table has come up. Place a brick under the pump to raise it 3-4 inches and see if your on the edge of the height of the water table. What is the area around you made up of? marsh land? lakes? etc.. Are you on flat land or have a walkout? etc.. I had the same situation in a house where my pump never ran in the summer but only in the winter. That was my fix so worth a try. If your discharging 20' away from house and have enough pitch its far enough in my opinion to not be that.

This would be my vote for a first pass test.  Like others have said itís possible that your water table has risen slightly so if you put the pump on a brick it should stop.  If it doesnít stop then you know the water table has not risen or it has risen more than the height of the brick which would be very unlikely to happen in the winter since there is little to no recharge.

I know you say the discharge line is heated but I would want to verify that you are getting total flow out to the curb or wherever the water vents to.  Heated pipes can still freeze if it is cold enough and I believe you had some pretty intense cold last week.  I could see a scenario where the discharge is blocked so as the pump runs the water pipes up in the pipe and backflows into the sump.

A running sump pump in winter is unusual for sure so you are right to try and get it sorted

Case

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #10 on: February 11, 2019, 07:51:23 PM »
Our sump pump has been running about every 10 minutes all winter, despite the freezing temps, and Iím concerned thereís an issue. It discharges water from the sump successfully and the water leaves the discharge pipe outside the house about 20 feet from the foundation. The discharge line is heated so it wonít freeze. The sump just continually refills and is pumped out every 10 mins. Weíre in Minnesota and itís been a cold winter, the ground has to be frozen solid. Weíve only lived in the house for a year and a half and I donít remember whether this happened last winter.

Does anyone have any insight into why this might be happening, and if itís something to be concerned about? We had a basement flood in our last house and thatís the last thing I want again. Iím considering contacting a basement company to come inspect things but figured Iíd try running it by my fellow mustachians first as Iím always amazed by how knowledgeable you lot are!

 Water tables tend to rise in the winter in comparison to the summer, due to lack of evaporation.  Of course , you are in Minneapolis where it is always winter.  Perhaps this is why it is the land of 10000 lakes.

ManBearPig

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #11 on: March 13, 2019, 08:56:38 PM »
Sounds like everything is working as it should.  I also live in MN and our sump pump runs every 10 minutes (or less) all year round.  It is likely due to a high water table as other have noted.  We've definitely had some wet years recently.

High quality pumps (i.e. Zoeller M53) are built for continuous operation as long as it's pumping water to keep it cool.  I bought a LevelGuard sensor because the mechanical switch on the pump would fail every couple years.

mies

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #12 on: March 14, 2019, 07:55:10 AM »
Sounds like everything is working as it should.  I also live in MN and our sump pump runs every 10 minutes (or less) all year round.  It is likely due to a high water table as other have noted.  We've definitely had some wet years recently.

High quality pumps (i.e. Zoeller M53) are built for continuous operation as long as it's pumping water to keep it cool.  I bought a LevelGuard sensor because the mechanical switch on the pump would fail every couple years.

I second the recommendation for Zoeller pumps. I have an N57 (cast iron, no built in switch). Also,make sure the pump is sized appropriately. If it is too powerful, it will run for 5 seconds at a time and cycle more frequently. I had 1/2 HP pump in my house initially and it burned itself out after a year. I switched to 1/3 HP Zoeller cast iron pump and it has been fine for over 11 years.

Lulee

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Re: Sump pump running every 10 mins through frigid Minnesota winter
« Reply #13 on: March 14, 2019, 02:37:51 PM »
The sump pump in my apartment house is directly below my bedroom so I was aware of it running multiple times per day for years all year round barring a prolonged severe drought.  First landlord said it didn't used to run that often and asked me to keep an eye on it so he could install a second one if need be.  Then it stopped being so frequent, just about as we hit March.  It was so quiet, I went down to see if it was broken and saw to my amazement that the basement was the driest it had been in a few years.

The local town Spring bulletin said they doing leak detection on the water system and had fixed three leaks "saving a total of 2,000,000 gallons of wasted water".  This reminded me that late Fall, someone was working up the hilly street from my place, and I watched gallons and gallons of water pour down the street for weeks until they were done.  I now suspect one or more of those fixed leaks was above my place, pumping huge amounts of water into the terrain, some of it making its way down to my little sump pump.

If my theory is right, the problem was totally outside the control of myself or the landlord.  We just paid for it in higher water costs and very high priced electricity to run the pump all the time.  Is that a possibility @webguy in your situation?