Author Topic: How do I handle basement water issues  (Read 1712 times)

CowboyAndIndian

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How do I handle basement water issues
« on: February 16, 2021, 11:10:11 AM »
I downsized and bought a house nearby. The house is great except for one problem. The sump pump is going on regularly. Anywhere between once in 30 seconds to once in a couple of minutes.

The house is at the bottom of the intersection of two gentle slopes, one from the right side and one from the back, and this seems to be funneling water towards my home. I have attached three pictures, one from the right, one from the back, and one from the left.

The house is relatively new (1993), so the basement has pipes under the floor which directs water to a sump pump. I see that the pipe from the left side of the house collects more water to the sump than from the right side of the house. As you can see from the picture to the left, the snowmelt is collecting on the left side of the house.

As far as the interior of the basement goes, I have a new electric sump pump installed and a new water-power-based backup pump (basepump available at home depot). So, if I lose electricity, I have a backup based on water pressure which does not need electricity. I also plan to keep a new electric sump pump so that I can replace it immediately in case of failure of the electric sump pump.

My thinking is that the water must be stopped on the outside before it comes up against the basement walls.
Any ideas on how to handle it?
 


« Last Edit: February 16, 2021, 11:12:53 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #1 on: February 16, 2021, 12:39:55 PM »
You are correct that, ideally, you want to keep the water from getting to your foundation in the first place.  You mention that your house is at the bottom of two slopes, which means you'll be getting a lot of people's runoff.  Is there a 'downhill' from your house to anywhere?  The general rule is to redirect the water away from your foundation as much as possible, usually by doing one or more of the following:

1) regrade the yard so that the water drains around your house and out to the street or storm drain
2) make sure your downspouts drain well away from the house.
3) install a french drain if the first two options are insufficient or impossible.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #2 on: February 16, 2021, 01:18:24 PM »
Thank you @zolotiyeruki.

You are correct that, ideally, you want to keep the water from getting to your foundation in the first place.  You mention that your house is at the bottom of two slopes, which means you'll be getting a lot of people's runoff.  Is there a 'downhill' from your house to anywhere? 
Yes, I have a gentle slope away from the house at the front of the house.


Quote
The general rule is to redirect the water away from your foundation as much as possible, usually by doing one or more of the following:

1) regrade the yard so that the water drains around your house and out to the street or storm drain
2) make sure your downspouts drain well away from the house.
3) install a french drain if the first two options are insufficient or impossible.

I am planning on doing the following
  • Gutter discharge at least 10-15 feet away from the house
  • There are a few low spots around the house, especially one beneath the deck on the back of the house. Grading is really going to be a high priority
  • I think I still might have to install a french drain. If I can get the water from the back of the house to the front storm drain, it will reduce the water at the foundation

Is it possible that there is a high water table? How do I find out if I do? Would a french drain help reduce the high water table level?

Papa bear

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #3 on: February 16, 2021, 01:25:13 PM »
The advice above and your proposed solutions are where Id start. 

As to a high water table, dig a hole. See if it fill with water. 


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CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #4 on: February 16, 2021, 01:32:57 PM »
The advice above and your proposed solutions are where I’d start. 

As to a high water table, dig a hole. See if it fill with water. 


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Thank you Papa bear.

Sometimes, I do not see the obvious. Yes, I will dig a hole and check if it fills with water!
« Last Edit: February 16, 2021, 01:34:40 PM by CowboyAndIndian »

Tigerpine

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #5 on: February 16, 2021, 02:34:47 PM »
The advice above and your proposed solutions are where Id start. 

As to a high water table, dig a hole. See if it fill with water. 


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Thank you Papa bear.

Sometimes, I do not see the obvious. Yes, I will dig a hole and check if it fills with water!

Make sure to call the Digger's Hotline in your area before you dig.  You don't want to chance upon a buried gas line, etc.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #6 on: February 16, 2021, 02:45:38 PM »
The advice above and your proposed solutions are where Id start. 

As to a high water table, dig a hole. See if it fill with water. 


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thank you Papa bear.

Sometimes, I do not see the obvious. Yes, I will dig a hole and check if it fills with water!

Make sure to call the Digger's Hotline in your area before you dig.  You don't want to chance upon a buried gas line, etc.

Good point! I believe it is 811 in my area.

Sibley

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #7 on: February 16, 2021, 03:35:45 PM »
Re the water table, this might be helpful? No idea how to read it, didn't spend the time. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nj/nwis/gw

My guess is that you just have a drainage problem. Get the water rerouted, give things a couple weeks to normalize, then see how much the sump pump is running.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #8 on: February 16, 2021, 04:29:52 PM »
Re the water table, this might be helpful? No idea how to read it, didn't spend the time. https://waterdata.usgs.gov/nj/nwis/gw

My guess is that you just have a drainage problem. Get the water rerouted, give things a couple weeks to normalize, then see how much the sump pump is running.

Found a couple of wells within a mile or so. One had water level at 263 feet and the other around 60 feet. So, you may be right and it can be fixed by rerouting water.

I need to wait a couple of months for french drain. The soil is still frozen. But the downspouts can be fixed quite easily on the next non-freezing day.

draco44

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #9 on: February 16, 2021, 04:40:57 PM »
Good advice to far. Chiming in to note that especially since it may take a while to get this water intrusion issue fixed, you were wise to get a backup sump pump! Basement Watchdogs seem solid if you ever need another option. The only thing worse than having a sump pump running constantly is it not running at all when you need it. Sounds like you've got the situation under control for now and are doing a good job thinking through what might be the best long-term solution to your problem.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2021, 06:54:38 PM »
Good advice to far. Chiming in to note that especially since it may take a while to get this water intrusion issue fixed, you were wise to get a backup sump pump! Basement Watchdogs seem solid if you ever need another option. The only thing worse than having a sump pump running constantly is it not running at all when you need it. Sounds like you've got the situation under control for now and are doing a good job thinking through what might be the best long-term solution to your problem.
Thanks, @draco44.

I did initially plan for a battery-operated backup but my home inspector told me about the venturi pumps that run on water only. After going thru the east coast blackout and Hurricane Sandy, I wanted a solution that would work even with a power failure. A battery backup may only work for about 6-8 hours. So, the best option for me was the Basepump (Liberty also makes one called waterjet).


draco44

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2021, 07:04:14 PM »
Good advice to far. Chiming in to note that especially since it may take a while to get this water intrusion issue fixed, you were wise to get a backup sump pump! Basement Watchdogs seem solid if you ever need another option. The only thing worse than having a sump pump running constantly is it not running at all when you need it. Sounds like you've got the situation under control for now and are doing a good job thinking through what might be the best long-term solution to your problem.
Thanks, @draco44.

I did initially plan for a battery-operated backup but my home inspector told me about the venturi pumps that run on water only. After going thru the east coast blackout and Hurricane Sandy, I wanted a solution that would work even with a power failure. A battery backup may only work for about 6-8 hours. So, the best option for me was the Basepump (Liberty also makes one called waterjet).

Cool! Thanks for the additional detail. I'm not well-versed on water-powered sump pumps, but any day I learn something new is a good one. Glad to hear you found a brand that works for you.

fraylock

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #12 on: February 17, 2021, 02:51:18 PM »
We have recently struggled with a similar issue after having moved into a new house.

I'm curious where your downspouts are going right now.  Agree with directing this away from your house.  As others have said, french drain(s) should help in the front given it is down-sloping.  Tying into storm drain is ideal, but may not be to code, depending on your city.  Alternatively, if your front yard is down-sloping enough, you could run your downspouts to the street and install pop up drains.

Depending on your back yard slope and soil type, you could consider a dry well in the back.

In our case, we added a french drain in the front and problem was 90% solved, but still with leaking from the backyard about once per year with really heavy rainfall.  Added the dry well in the back yard and so far problem solved (fingers crossed).  We just dug a big hole and dropped in an old 250 gal IBC tote with holes drilled in the sides and ran the back downspouts to that.  We don't have a sump, but that's plan "C."

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #13 on: February 18, 2021, 08:26:12 AM »
Thanks @fraylock

The gutters right now dump near the foundation. So this should be an easy fix.

As far as the french drains go, I intend to install them starting at the highest corner of the back yard and then leading to the front ending up in a storm drain. In my older house, I installed a dry well, but from all I read, the french drain should be exited to daylight. Also, monitoring the output of the french drain will help me determine if the french drain is working or has issues.

I have been monitoring how long the interval is between sump pump operations and it looks like the interval decreases when there is a rain or snowmelt event. So, I am getting more convinced that this is surface water and not groundwater. Cannot wait for April/May when I can set up the french drain.

JLee

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #14 on: February 18, 2021, 08:57:43 AM »
Thanks @fraylock

The gutters right now dump near the foundation. So this should be an easy fix.

As far as the french drains go, I intend to install them starting at the highest corner of the back yard and then leading to the front ending up in a storm drain. In my older house, I installed a dry well, but from all I read, the french drain should be exited to daylight. Also, monitoring the output of the french drain will help me determine if the french drain is working or has issues.

I have been monitoring how long the interval is between sump pump operations and it looks like the interval decreases when there is a rain or snowmelt event. So, I am getting more convinced that this is surface water and not groundwater. Cannot wait for April/May when I can set up the french drain.

I had water coming into my basement during heavy rain - I extended the gutters out about 8 feet from the house and it fixed it.

I need a more permanent solution instead of tubes over my lawn, lol, but at least my basement is dry while I figure it out.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #15 on: February 18, 2021, 10:45:24 AM »
Thanks @fraylock

The gutters right now dump near the foundation. So this should be an easy fix.

As far as the french drains go, I intend to install them starting at the highest corner of the back yard and then leading to the front ending up in a storm drain. In my older house, I installed a dry well, but from all I read, the french drain should be exited to daylight. Also, monitoring the output of the french drain will help me determine if the french drain is working or has issues.

I have been monitoring how long the interval is between sump pump operations and it looks like the interval decreases when there is a rain or snowmelt event. So, I am getting more convinced that this is surface water and not groundwater. Cannot wait for April/May when I can set up the french drain.

I had water coming into my basement during heavy rain - I extended the gutters out about 8 feet from the house and it fixed it.

I need a more permanent solution instead of tubes over my lawn, lol, but at least my basement is dry while I figure it out.
Just dig a shallow trench, bury some corrugated pipe, and install a pop-up drain 10-15 feet away from the house.  We don't deal with water in our basement (although we *do* hear the sump run more often when it rains), but to make sure, I installed a couple last year, and intend to install a couple more in the spring.

It's cheap and easy--$5 for the pipe and $10 for the pop-up drain.  With the side benefit that more of the water ends on our grass (because we don't water) than in the mulch beds.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #16 on: February 18, 2021, 11:32:00 AM »
Thanks @fraylock

The gutters right now dump near the foundation. So this should be an easy fix.

As far as the french drains go, I intend to install them starting at the highest corner of the back yard and then leading to the front ending up in a storm drain. In my older house, I installed a dry well, but from all I read, the french drain should be exited to daylight. Also, monitoring the output of the french drain will help me determine if the french drain is working or has issues.

I have been monitoring how long the interval is between sump pump operations and it looks like the interval decreases when there is a rain or snowmelt event. So, I am getting more convinced that this is surface water and not groundwater. Cannot wait for April/May when I can set up the french drain.

I had water coming into my basement during heavy rain - I extended the gutters out about 8 feet from the house and it fixed it.

I need a more permanent solution instead of tubes over my lawn, lol, but at least my basement is dry while I figure it out.
Just dig a shallow trench, bury some corrugated pipe, and install a pop-up drain 10-15 feet away from the house.  We don't deal with water in our basement (although we *do* hear the sump run more often when it rains), but to make sure, I installed a couple last year, and intend to install a couple more in the spring.

It's cheap and easy--$5 for the pipe and $10 for the pop-up drain.  With the side benefit that more of the water ends on our grass (because we don't water) than in the mulch beds.

+1

I did that in my old house. Make sure you put a cleanout (a Y at the start) so that you can clean out leaves in the buried pipe. J

JLee

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #17 on: February 18, 2021, 11:35:12 AM »
Thanks @fraylock

The gutters right now dump near the foundation. So this should be an easy fix.

As far as the french drains go, I intend to install them starting at the highest corner of the back yard and then leading to the front ending up in a storm drain. In my older house, I installed a dry well, but from all I read, the french drain should be exited to daylight. Also, monitoring the output of the french drain will help me determine if the french drain is working or has issues.

I have been monitoring how long the interval is between sump pump operations and it looks like the interval decreases when there is a rain or snowmelt event. So, I am getting more convinced that this is surface water and not groundwater. Cannot wait for April/May when I can set up the french drain.

I had water coming into my basement during heavy rain - I extended the gutters out about 8 feet from the house and it fixed it.

I need a more permanent solution instead of tubes over my lawn, lol, but at least my basement is dry while I figure it out.
Just dig a shallow trench, bury some corrugated pipe, and install a pop-up drain 10-15 feet away from the house.  We don't deal with water in our basement (although we *do* hear the sump run more often when it rains), but to make sure, I installed a couple last year, and intend to install a couple more in the spring.

It's cheap and easy--$5 for the pipe and $10 for the pop-up drain.  With the side benefit that more of the water ends on our grass (because we don't water) than in the mulch beds.

That was my plan, but the pipe I have is pretty beefy (perforated drain pipe) so a smaller pipe with a popup drain may work better.

My backyard gets EXTREMELY wet and soggy when it rains -- I have a huge hill at the back of my lot that seems to direct about 2 acres worth of water into my small backyard. I need to sort something out with that too, because if it's raining I can barely walk off of my deck without just sinking into muddy grass.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #18 on: February 18, 2021, 05:38:46 PM »
That was my plan, but the pipe I have is pretty beefy (perforated drain pipe) so a smaller pipe with a popup drain may work better.
Do not use perforated pipe for the gutter extender. You want the water as far away from the house before it hits the ground.

Quote
My backyard gets EXTREMELY wet and soggy when it rains -- I have a huge hill at the back of my lot that seems to direct about 2 acres worth of water into my small backyard. I need to sort something out with that too, because if it's raining I can barely walk off of my deck without just sinking into muddy grass.

Here you can use your perforated pipe to build a french drain to move water to the storm drain. This guy has an easy explanation on the DIY. Just remember, you need a slope for the french drain to work otherwise you have to set up pumps, sump, etc., which will make it more complex.
https://youtu.be/V17s91XeqvU

JLee

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #19 on: February 19, 2021, 10:24:59 AM »
That was my plan, but the pipe I have is pretty beefy (perforated drain pipe) so a smaller pipe with a popup drain may work better.
Do not use perforated pipe for the gutter extender. You want the water as far away from the house before it hits the ground.

Quote
My backyard gets EXTREMELY wet and soggy when it rains -- I have a huge hill at the back of my lot that seems to direct about 2 acres worth of water into my small backyard. I need to sort something out with that too, because if it's raining I can barely walk off of my deck without just sinking into muddy grass.

Here you can use your perforated pipe to build a french drain to move water to the storm drain. This guy has an easy explanation on the DIY. Just remember, you need a slope for the french drain to work otherwise you have to set up pumps, sump, etc., which will make it more complex.
https://youtu.be/V17s91XeqvU

Yeah that is kinda the problem, all of the available slope in the backyard is putting the water there. I don't really have any slope to get the water out of the backyard.  I may talk to a company that does this sort of thing...they'll probably have the best solution.  I might have to do something like this - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HtU8iJnW0U

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #20 on: February 19, 2021, 03:20:31 PM »
Yes, that guy, "French Drain Man" is really good. Another guy called Apple drains is also good. But they have long videos and very rambling. If you can sit thru their videos, you can glean a lot of great info.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2021, 07:51:48 AM »

I am planning on doing the following
  • Gutter discharge at least 10-15 feet away from the house
  • There are a few low spots around the house, especially one beneath the deck on the back of the house. Grading is really going to be a high priority
  • I think I still might have to install a french drain. If I can get the water from the back of the house to the front storm drain, it will reduce the water at the foundation

Is it possible that there is a high water table? How do I find out if I do? Would a french drain help reduce the high water table level?

I did all of the above including the french drain. It is handling the surface water very well and I have no wet spots in the yard.

But, the pump still runs once in 90 seconds or so, so it seems that there is some sub-surface water. I can see that when it rains, the pumps work more for about 12 hours and then are back to the pre-rain interval of running.

Besides trying some water divining and installing a well/pump outside the house, I am stumped on what to do.

As papabear suggested, I checked the trenches when the french drain was built and there was no water.

Any suggestions?
« Last Edit: May 21, 2021, 07:55:13 AM by CowboyAndIndian »

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2021, 07:56:37 AM »
I'd suggest you just give it several more months.  Get through the spring melts and rains, see how it fares during the summer and fall, before you take any more steps.  You might be draining a whole neighborhood's worth of ground water :)

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2021, 08:06:03 AM »
I'd suggest you just give it several more months.  Get through the spring melts and rains, see how it fares during the summer and fall, before you take any more steps.  You might be draining a whole neighborhood's worth of ground water :)

Thank you. That gives me some hope that maybe this will be fixed.

zolotiyeruki

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2021, 08:34:31 AM »
Another thing you might consider:  a lower-flow pump that can run in longer spurts with less starting and stopping.  Cycling every 90 seconds is bound to shorten the life of your sump pump significantly.  If instead you get a lower-power pump in addition to your current sump pump, it will cycle less frequently and run for longer each time, and will likely be more efficient as well.   Set the float switch for the small pump at a lower level than the big pump.

It doesn't have to be perfectly-sized, either.  If it's slightly undersized for the flow, it'll run continuously, and the sump will gradually fill up until the big pump kicks in and helps out.  If it's slightly oversized, it'll run most of the time, but not all the time. Either way, it's fine.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #25 on: May 21, 2021, 11:11:49 AM »
Another thing you might consider:  a lower-flow pump that can run in longer spurts with less starting and stopping.  Cycling every 90 seconds is bound to shorten the life of your sump pump significantly.  If instead you get a lower-power pump in addition to your current sump pump, it will cycle less frequently and run for longer each time, and will likely be more efficient as well.   Set the float switch for the small pump at a lower level than the big pump.

It doesn't have to be perfectly-sized, either.  If it's slightly undersized for the flow, it'll run continuously, and the sump will gradually fill up until the big pump kicks in and helps out.  If it's slightly oversized, it'll run most of the time, but not all the time. Either way, it's fine.

Presently, there is  a 1/3 horsepower pump, the cheapest possible from a big box store put in by the previous owner. It has a float switch that just moves about 4-5 inches. So, it does not pump a whole lot.

What I am thinking of is replacing the cheapo pump with another 1/3 horsepower pump where the float switch is separate from the pump and where I can set the delay to turn off the pump. Like this one https://www.sumppumpsdirect.com/PHCC-Pro-Series-S3033-Sump-Pump/p6566.html. If I can pump out more than 5 inches from the sump (maybe 10-12 inches) that should double the time between pumps. From what I hear, the first one to fail is the switch and not the pump. So, since the float switch is separate from the pump, I can replace it if it fails. 

There is not enough space in the sump to fit two electric pumps as well as the water-based pump. I'll have to explore whether there is a pump that can sit external to the sump.

Thanks, that is a lot of good ideas!



zolotiyeruki

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #26 on: May 21, 2021, 01:01:08 PM »
Yeah, I guess shoehorning three pumps in one sump might be a challenge :)  I agree that the float switches are more likely to fail than the pump itself (I've replaced three in our house in the last decade).  Finding one that has a larger range of adjustability, so your pump can drain the sump down to nearly the bottom, is a great idea.  However, you want to make sure you always leave a couple inches of water in the bottom--don't let the water level get so low that the pump starts sucking in air.

A pedestal pump might free up enough room in the sump to fit another pump in.  For the low-power pump, you don't have to get an official sump pump.  You could just get a higher-pressure pond pump, or perhaps a pump used for circulating hot water through radiant flooring.

CowboyAndIndian

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Re: How do I handle basement water issues
« Reply #27 on: December 09, 2021, 02:24:06 PM »
I'd suggest you just give it several more months.  Get through the spring melts and rains, see how it fares during the summer and fall, before you take any more steps.  You might be draining a whole neighborhood's worth of ground water :)

It has been almost 8 months since I put the french drain in. I have had no surface water issues. The water logged ground around the house is a thing of the past.

Unfortunately, the sump pump still runs consistently. Once in 2 minutes. If it rains, it goes to a quicker interval (say 90 secs) and then bounces back to 2 minutes within a couple of days. Even if it has not rained for a couple of weeks, it still stays around 2 minutes.

I'm attaching a google view of the house.
  • The red arrows are the slopes towards my house
  • The blue lines are catchment areas that are lower than my basement floor. They are dry except during rain storms.The land slopes away from my house towards the catchment areas
  • The yellow is an old grist mill which is used just for show with a fountain. There are 2 ponds, one lower and one higher. The higher one is about the level of my basement

Any idea why the catchments are dry but my basement is generating a couple of thousand gallons of water a day? The guy opposite my house (with 2 on the house) has the same issue. The house with 4 on it (diagonally opposite mine) does not have a basement.

Could the grist mill pond cause my water issues? If so, how to prove it?

We have dug 3 feet into the ground and there is no ground water at that level.

Really appreciate any help.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2021, 02:47:49 PM by CowboyAndIndian »