Help please. Issue with basement sink pumps.

Discussion in 'General Plumbing Help' started by Btseagle98, Aug 16, 2019.

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  1. Aug 16, 2019 #1

    Btseagle98

    Btseagle98

    Btseagle98

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    I have two sinks in my basement. Each of them are plumbed into separate pumps which send waste into the homes main drain.

    The hallway kitchenette sink is connected to its own pump located in the adjacent closet. That closet smells HORRIBLE and is actually causing the entire basement to stink.

    Across the hallway I have a restroom. The fixtures in that restroom are connected to their own, larger, submersed pump in another closet.

    When you turn on the water to the hallway kitchenette sink you hear the pump turn on as it’s working, but then, within a minute or less, the restroom sink across the hall turns into a geyser and some very foul smelling water is being splashed out onto the floor/wall. The water quickly drains from that sink with no further issue once you turn the kitchenette sink off across the hall.

    No other sinks/showers in the house seem to be affected.

    I can run the restroom sink and shower as long as I want with no issues at all. The geyser only occurs in the restroom sink (not shower) when you turn the kitchenette sink across the hallway on.

    Any thoughts or suggestions?

    I made a video and took photos to try and attach to this post but I cannot figure out how I get that feature to work.
     
  2. Aug 16, 2019 #2

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    I think you need lots of pics.
    And you probably need to tell this story again, with a better, more precise description of your issues, current plumbing layout, and cause and effect.
    I could not follow all of it in my head, it seems too rambling of a tale.
    Maybe the sink that is shooting water needs a check valve, somewhere in its drain line, but I can’t picture your whole arrangement with your current description.
     
  3. Aug 16, 2019 #3

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    There should be a button at the bottom of the frame, under your post, to “upload a file”, which you can select from your phone.
     
  4. Aug 17, 2019 #4

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Agree that a clearer depiction of exactly what is going on and how things are piped(to the best of your knowledge) would be necessary to help solve the potential problem(s).

    Did these problems just start recently and did they start together?

    It kind of sounds like maybe a partial blockage and/or a pump discharge rate too great for pipe sizes. But if you're getting a restroom sink that turns into a geyser that relies on it drainage to be pumped to the sanitary, it would imply that there is no check valve on the pump discharge.
    Also, in the case of the kitchenette sink causing a HORRIBLE smell. Again, this relies on a pump that is connected to the sanitary system, so something is obviously wrong here. Please indicate if sink is trapped or just flows to a sump with a pump. Is the pump operation controlled with a float and is the sump vented?
    In other words you should try to describe and take pictures of everything you are aware of with the piping and pumps related to both locations and if these pumps are separately connected to the gravity drainage system or are piped together prior to connecting to the gravity system.
     
  5. Aug 17, 2019 #5

    Btseagle98

    Btseagle98

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    Ok, attached are a bunch of photos.
    1. Hall/kitchenette sink
    2. The kitchenette sink pump in adjacent closet.
    3 & 4 Photos of where that pumps discharge and vent go up into basement ceiling and across hallway.
    5. Restroom sink across hallway. This sink, toilet and shower sre plumbed into the foundation which then drain into the main basement sump pump pictured in photo number 6.
    6. Main basement sump pump.
    7. Main sump pump discharge and vent.
    8. Photo of main pumps discharge set up.

    Issue:
    When you turn on the kitchenette sink in photo 1, and subsequently when the pump in photo 2 turns on, water then gurgles/shoots up into the sink pictured in photo number 5.

    Independently, the sink in photo number 5 can run as long as you want with zero issues. It drains into the main pump then gets pumped out with no issue.

    The restroom in photo 5, is connected to the basement plumbing that was studded when the house was built.

    Best I can determine is that the dishcharge line from the kitchenette/pump, installed after the House was finished when the basement was finished, is being fed into the drainage line for the sink in the restroom instead of being tapped into the main drain.

    The gurgling/geyser in the restroom sink only occurs once the kitchenette pump activates. The water fills up the restroom sink and then drains with no issue.

    I think it’s just being pumped way to hard/fast for the current configuration so the discharge water is taking the path of least resistance into the restroom sink. Then draining once the kitchennte pump turns off.

    So, Ive determined that I have two options:
    Live with it and not use the kitchenette sink or use it and cleaning up the mess across the hall.

    Option 2...redirect the kitchenette pump discharge into the main drain.

    Your thoughts?


    Also...I’ve noticed a slight difference in the way the two pumps are set up. See photo numbers 2 and 8. The main pump, and every other basement/laundry pump I’ve ever seen has a Ball Valve after the Check Valve.

    The kitchenette pump in photo 2 has no such valve.

    Is that the problem? Would installing the ball valve to slow down the discharge solve the issue? Is it really just an oversight of the installation and that easy of a fix?

    I’m now thinking the best solution would be doing both. Re-route the kitchenette drainage AND install the ball valve.
     

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    Last edited: Aug 17, 2019
  6. Aug 17, 2019 #6

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Your first pic looks to be a sewage or ejector pump setup. Not a sump pump intended to pump ground water or rain water.
    The discharge line is 2”, so this is normal for handling basement bathroom toilet, sink, shower.

    So there might be another regular sump pump down there someplace, but some houses occasionally don’t need one.

    Or they piped the foundation drain into the ejector pump pit, which would be a no-no in my experience.
     
  7. Aug 18, 2019 #7

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Just saw this before getting ready for bed.
    The problem seems pretty obvious to be, "the dishcharge line from the kitchenette/pump, installed after the House was finished when the basement was finished, is being fed into the drainage line for the sink in the restroom instead of being tapped into the main drain."

    As previously asked, "Did these problems just start recently and did they start together?"

    EDIT: If it had been working fine, and no changes were made to the pump capacities, you may have a slight blockage in that line that the Kitchenette pump connects to. And/or something has changed with the rest room sump pump being able to handle that sudden flow from the Kitchenette unit.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  8. Aug 18, 2019 #8

    Btseagle98

    Btseagle98

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    "Did these problems just start recently and did they start together?"

    Honestly...i don’t know.
    I’ve had the house for a year and I honestly think this is the second time I’ve run that sink long enough for the pump to kick in. It may have happened before but I don’t know.

    The only other time I’ve personally run the kitchenette sink is a couple of weeks ago when I turned off and subsequently turned on the main water supply to the house in order to sweat some pipes and install a couple of shut off valves in a separate part of the house. I chalked it up to an anomaly caused by the rush of water when I turned the water back on. I know now that was not correct.

    Then, a couple of nights ago, the smell of stagnant water/sewer gas coming from the kitchenette pump was horrible so i letbthe water run for a minute. That sink is NEVER used.

    That’s when I noticed the gurgling in the restroom sink.

    Then I realized something was not right.

    So, now that we have that out of the way...

    Do you think a ball valve on the kitchenette sink pump dishcharge, to lessen the flow of dishcharge, would help?

    I know tapping the discharge into the main drain will resolve it. That involves removing a lot of the drop ceiling, and aggravation. The actual monetary cost would be about the same.

    Should I do both?

    I’ve honestly never seen one of those pumps set up without a ball valve to regulate the flow of discharge or to shut off the backflow if water in the event of having to repair/replace the pump.
     
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2019
  9. Aug 18, 2019 #9

    wood4d

    wood4d

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    did they put a trap on the kitchenette sink? you shouldnt have any smell unless it went dry. The ball valves are not meant to regulate flow, they should be wide open. The gurgling in the bathroom sink could be because its not vented properly. Seen guys use the pump as the vent if its close enough to the lav.
     
  10. Aug 19, 2019 #10

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    As mention, although a ball valve isn't typically used for throttling purposes(due primarily to its lack of linear control), it could be used to reduce the flow.

    Is there any chance you could reroute that discharge line from the drainage line for the sink in the restroom directly into the restroom sump?

    Not knowing exactly where/how that discharge line is connected to that sink drain, it's hard to determine if a check valve(backwater valve) would be feasible to add. It would have to be added to the common discharge line from the rest room(after all fixtures) to the restroom sump. Sounds like it may not be visible or accessible to you.

    As you have already recognized, that sump should discharge to the portion of the gravity drain that is large enough to handle the flow rate of the sump. Or possibly connect to the other pump discharge prior to it's connection to the gravity line.

    Any idea how big that sump pump is? Sounds like quite a flow for just a sink drain.

    Throw a ball valve on that discharge line and throttle it way down. Should not hurt a centrifugal pump to pump against a higher head. You could double check with the manufacturer of the pump, if you know what it is.
     
  11. Aug 25, 2019 #11

    Maveric169

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    (Disclaimer: I am not a plumber or expert, just a DIY homeowner)

    I think you have 2 problems.

    1) Both ejector pumps shoud go to the main sewage line. It is just asking for issues if they tie together then go to the main line.

    2) You have a partial blockage in the main line after where the ejector pump line ties into the main sewer line.

    Fixes:

    Start with the easier of the 2 problems, call a plumber to snake to main sewage line, preferably with a scraper/cutter. This will fully clear your main sewer line and get rid of any buildup on the inside of the pipes.
    Then test and see if you still have the problem.

    I have my doubts that the problem will still be present as it most likely worked correctly when it was installed.

    Then, when you can afford to have a plumbing pro run both ejector pumps directly to the main sewer line.

    Do this even if snaking fixes the problem as it will prevent future issues.

    The only other suggestion/ question is are do the ejector pumps have a emaciator on them? Basically a grinder. Some are just pumps, some are pumps with grinders (think garbage disposal).

    The grinders can really help prevent sewage line clogs especially from toilets and a heavy toilet paper user.
     
  12. Aug 25, 2019 #12

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    2 pumps can be connected together, before entering a gravity line, providing the are both equipped with check valves. Done all the time with dual sump pumps.

    I wouldn't bet any money that the system worked properly when first installed.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2019
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  13. Sep 1, 2019 #13

    Btseagle98

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    I think the smell was just because the pump and trap on the kitchenette sink had dried up from not being used. After using it and replenishing the water where it should be, the smell is gone.

    I honestly think the pump installed (see photo labeled 2) is just too much for a sink drain. All that was needed was a simple sink pump and the one installed is much larger and stronger than what is needed. It’s pushing the dishcharge our way too hard/fast and I think the pressure being shot into the lines is causing the water in the sink trap in the adjacent restroom (photo labeled 5) to come up/out.

    I’m going to put a ball valve on the dishcharge in photo 2 and throttle it way down to lessen the pressure of the dishcharge. If that doesn’t work...we’ll, back to the drawing board.
     

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  14. Sep 3, 2019 #14

    Btseagle98

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    Well, seems to have done the trick.

    Cut the discharge pipe, installed the ball valve, and then had to use a compression coupler to splice the remaining pipe back together.

    Had to crank the newly installed ball valve down to about 60% closed in order to slow the discharge down.

    Also discovered another issue which could have been contributing to the stench. The vent pipe coming off the pump wasn’t glued when originally installed and at some point had been knocked around and become separated at the joint illustrated by the arrow in the attached photo.
     

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  15. Sep 3, 2019 #15

    Diehard

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    Good to hear you've made some positive progress.

    Just as a point of interest, when throttled to about 60% closed(40% opened), flow would be about 13%+/- of full open flow. 60% opened = about 30% of flow.

    Valve Flow.jpg
     
  16. Sep 3, 2019 #16

    frodo

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    Your problem is not ''fixed'' all you have done is slow the flow
    you can now expect, within 6 months, the ball valve to be stopped up

    you need to reroute the drain piping,
     
  17. Sep 3, 2019 #17

    Diehard

    Diehard

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    Could be, but being an infrequently used kitchenette sink drain, I believe it has a good chance to last much longer.
     
  18. Sep 3, 2019 #18

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    Even though your fix was a quick and dirty one, it seems good enough for you, for now anyway.
    Your pump will likely have a shorter life, pushing harder through that tighter opening.
    But it must not run often, so pbly no biggie.
    Time will tell, but you can give it some help.

    You should try to keep that drain line, and partially closed valve, from clogging up even tighter.

    Use an enzyme cleaner such as “Drain Care” on a frequent basis, at least every few weeks.
    It takes about thirty seconds to mix it and dump it down the sink drain.

    Dirt cheap and effective stuff, safe for people and pipes, and better to use it than to have to tear stuff apart, or snake, or replace, when your weird setup gets more clogged than it is now.

    It might even gradually restore the drain line enough so that you can open the ball valve more, maybe even all the way.
     
  19. Sep 4, 2019 #19

    frodo

    frodo

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    maybe
    he took a 2'' drain and choked it by 60%
    that would be the equivalent of a 3/4 pipe
    dump anything in that sink except water and you will have problems

    the fix. is to re pipe the drains correctly
    choking it down and dumping drain cleaner in the pipe is a bandaid
    it is also against code to install an obstruction in the pipe

    obstructions.png
     
  20. Sep 4, 2019 #20

    Jeff Handy

    Jeff Handy

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    You are correct, he has chosen a lazy and goofy fix to an already F’d up drain problem.

    I just was suggesting that using frequent enzyme cleaner might keep his kludged Frankenstein arrangement running better, while it lasts.
     

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