(Topic ID: 249315)

Basement Gameroom Question: Floor Drains to Sump Pit


By merccat

10 days ago



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    #1 10 days ago

    Sorry for being pretty off topic but haven’t been able to find too much for my issue searching and basements are a very foreign thing around here making so there are no local experts. Since I know a lot of guys here have basement game rooms thought someone here might have some experience in this dept.

    Our house has a semi-finished basement which I am prepping to more fully finish into our game room. The basement houses our two downstairs hvac units and water heaters (hydronic heat ugh) and right by these are floor drains. Our basement is fully underground and below any city sewer so the floor drains lead to the sump pit where it gets pumped... well not yet sure where it goes in the end.

    Anyway... recently I noticed water filling one of the floor drains and draining very slow. Upon removing the grate and shop vacing out some water I saw a very small side hole and a large plug in the bottom. The plug was not on tight and removing it the rest of the water drained away right away.

    From my research the side hole is typically a cleanout but its the one that should have a plug and this has no threads so I’m super confused. A. Why would there be a plug on the main drain and B why would anyone plug it? C. Could that side hole actually be an auxiliary inlet? The AC condensation line goes into the wall that side inlet is also pointing towards.

    My theory at the moment is that the previous homeowner had no idea what they were doing and plugged the drains?

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    #2 10 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    Sorry for being pretty off topic

    Should have been posted in the OT forum, not All Pinball.

    I don't have an answer for your drains. I would recommend consulting a professional to look at everything and figure it all out as a complete system. In my experiences with plumbing its hard to give solid advice until the entire system is examined. Personally, I have two sump pumps in my basement, and I would never consider fully finishing a basement with sump pumps.

    #3 10 days ago

    This is in the right place: “all gameroom talk”

    OP... you’re talking water in your basement... I’d call a plumber and have him/her assess those pipes.

    I’ve owned two homes with basements - one had crazy water issues and the other (knock on wood) doesn’t. But water in finished spaces is a huge pain to deal with. Paying someone a few hundred dollars to assess your drains would be a good idea!

    #4 10 days ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    Paying someone a few hundred dollars to assess your drains would be a good idea!

    Get someone with a camera. They can push it down the line and get an idea of where it goes.

    #5 10 days ago

    Interesting how this stuff changes from state to state. Anyway without the big picture of how your house is designed and how big of a problem water is in your area this is difficult to answer. How high is the water table as an example? Living in the Midwest I have two large deep sump crocks in an 8ft basement. The pits are several feet deep as an example. Both have main pumps with backups. One directs water outside into a drainage system that essentially empty’s into a creek not far away. If we get a lot of rain this one gets a lot of water flowing into it. The other is for drainage from the ac and humidifier on the furnace. Very little water drains and pumps out of this one. Basically an overflow pit. From what I can see with those two small drains water isn’t a huge issue otherwise you would have bigger pits with large pumps in them. How deep is your basement btw? As far as one being plugged that may have been to prevent sewer gas from leaking into your basement and making it smell. As others have said it may help to get an assessment by a local plumber that knows your area. The money spent would help with piece of mind at least. Do they seem to fill up with more rain? Wish I could be more helpful. To be honest you’re ahead of the curve as most don’t even think about this stuff until after they have a problem. Usually a flood lol.

    #6 10 days ago
    Quoted from Luckydogg420:

    Get someone with a camera. They can push it down the line and get an idea of where it goes.

    Excellent idea. Someone should be able to scope that and figure out where it ends up.

    Also, in my area, you can go to the municipality and purchase the original plans for your house. That should show you exactly how the drains were engineered.

    #7 10 days ago

    Disclaimer: I don't know anything about plumbing.

    Couple of my houses in NJ has sump pits and sump pumps (I don't see a pump in your pics). Water in the pit was normal, and when it exceeded a certain level the sump pump would kick on to drive the water out. After installing flooring, we had a lot of rain and the pump blew the circuit and flooded the basement and I had to replace the flooring again. Resolution:
    1) Replaced original pump
    2) Replaced circuit
    3) Added secondary pump with battery backup
    4) Eventually added house generator that kicked on automatically with loss of power

    Don't fool around with water in your basement, luck!

    #8 10 days ago
    Quoted from Rando:

    Disclaimer: I don't know anything about plumbing.
    Couple of my houses in NJ has sump pits and sump pumps (I don't see a pump in your pics). Water in the pit was normal, and when it exceeded a certain level the sump pump would kick on to drive the water out. After installing flooring, we had a lot of rain and the pump blew the circuit and flooded the basement and I had to replace the flooring again. Resolution:
    1) Replaced original pump
    2) Replaced circuit
    3) Added secondary pump with battery backup
    4) Eventually added house generator that kicked on automatically with loss of power
    Don't fool around with water in your basement, luck!

    I added a second battery backup pump in our old home outside of Philly... same reason. We had a massive storm, power got knocked out for more than a day, and the basement flooded.

    A whole-home generator makes sense. But, the battery back up is way more affordable... but, OP, if you're thinking about finishing your basement and there's evidence of water, definitely throw in some sort of secondary system. You might never need it, but if you do, you'll be REALLY glad you have it.

    #9 10 days ago
    Quoted from Rando:

    Disclaimer: I don't know anything about plumbing.
    Couple of my houses in NJ has sump pits and sump pumps (I don't see a pump in your pics). Water in the pit was normal, and when it exceeded a certain level the sump pump would kick on to drive the water out. After installing flooring, we had a lot of rain and the pump blew the circuit and flooded the basement and I had to replace the flooring again.
    Don't fool around with water in your basement, luck!

    I have been in my house 17 years. I replace the sump pump in the 'pit' every 3 years. Any proactive measure you can take is an investment in your piece of mind and possibly property. Just make sure you stick to a schedule. I mark the pump with the replacement date. And check it every year as I won't remember if I'm on the third year/replacement year. I'm not sure why I use it as a reminder, but I check every year the week of Pinball Expo.

    #10 9 days ago

    Thanks all! Yeah the pics were of just the drain, not the pump or pit. Here is a little more context. I’m going to have the pump put on it’s own line as well. Our basement is about 8-9 feet below grade. Water tables around here tend to be hundreds of feet down so its mostly capturing ac condensation and probably weeping tiles.

    I suspect the sump ejects into our yard drainage system where it goes out to the curb, i need to run it for a bit to make that determination. The floor drains lead to the pit as during a water heater replacement we drained the old tank into one of the floor drains and the sump pump kicked on.

    I’ll try to get ahold of the original plans as well to see if I can learn some more from that.

    Pics of AC: the pipe in front is the emergency drain with the primary going into the wall behind the unit. That is also where the small hole in the drain points towards.

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    #11 9 days ago

    Also, how do most people go about hiding the pump pit while still keeping it serviceable? I’m thinking about building a bar that can be slid out for service.

    #12 9 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    Also, how do most people go about hiding the pump pit while still keeping it serviceable? I’m thinking about building a bar that can be slid out for service.

    My two houses, one I framed into a closet where I kept my AV gear (it never went off a single time... No water issues at all, land was all sand). Current house, the pit is in the back by the rest of the HVAC/water heater stuff, so is basically just an unfinished storage area so no need to "hide" it.

    #13 9 days ago

    looks low enough that you could slide a game right over it.

    #14 9 days ago

    If necessary, start a GoFundMe account to cover the costs. It works. Pinsiders are good that way!

    #15 9 days ago
    Quoted from wdennie:

    looks low enough that you could slide a game right over it.

    I thought about that but wanting a more finished look... can still have rough edges (aesthetic patina) but not quite that rough. Still it’s space that a game could otherwise be in...

    Quoted from Fezmid:

    one I framed into a closet where I kept my AV gear

    Thats a good solution, but already working on wiring up an area under the stairwell for that. I’ll have a to think about this one some.

    Quoted from jrpinball:

    If necessary, start a GoFundMe account to cover the costs. It works. Pinsiders are good that way!

    LOL! That couldn’t possibly end in disaster at all. . I don’t really move that fast on things anyway so I don’t see myself outpacing funding.

    Fortunately I don’t have any sort of flooding, just that one drain was starting to fill up to the grate, probably from us running the AC nearly constantly in the August heat which led to my discovery that it had a plug installed at the bottom of the drain.

    My main concern is of course that it remains dry as I look to finishing things beyond painted brick, white tile and thin fiber board ceiling squares and having the mechanicals exposed.

    #16 9 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    Also, how do most people go about hiding the pump pit while still keeping it serviceable? I’m thinking about building a bar that can be slid out for service.

    You make it into a closet or cabinet. Something that has a door on it that gives it dedicated space and keeps it accessible. Don't put anything else into that space. You may want to check with your local code to make sure there are no issues. Goofy codes in many towns. Just go to your village/city office, ask to speak to a building inspector, and ask them about it. They are usually willing to talk to you as in the end, it makes their job easier. Don't tell them your address, in case you decide to circumvent code...

    #17 9 days ago

    Ok, I think I’m figuring this system out. Floor drains go to the sump pit, can’t figure out why they were plugged but they appear to have a trap on the other side of the plug and drain properly now opened. Pit has two pipes top side which lead up to ground level. One appears to be a vent while the other bends back into the house at the first level. Pouring a 5 gal bucket of water into the system produced no outside water, adding that to the evidence it seems to discharge into the sanitary system.

    The entire purpose of the system seems to be to handle AC condensation and emergency drainage in the event of a water line or heater break. There doesn’t seem to be any outside connection to the pit for runoff drainage... Maybe because our water tables here are way lower than our basement.... maybe because basements here are extremely rare so its not part of code or anything looked for... i don't know.

    Good things to know. Next time I get a day off I’ll be checking with the city on plans and whats allowed for hiding the pump. Then I can hopefully get started on transforming this into a proper game room.

    #18 9 days ago

    Can't say for sure in your area but in Chicago where basements are common whenever you see a plug in a drain as you have shown its usually an indicator that the storm drains in the street overfill and backup into the basement. Most will use a plug or typically a stand pipe (short pipe inserted or threaded in) about 3 foot tall to raise the water drain level above the city storm drain fill lines. You should technically Not plug or stand pipe a drain as it can crack the drain lines outside but many do as a flooded basement is a horrible problem no doubt. Minor observation on your photo, typically the check valve (bulbous white piece) is suppose to be installed vertically only not horizontal as your shows. This keeps the internal flap working and also keeps water at the flap to keep gas out so your pit does not become a bomb of sorts.

    Final assumptions based on your photos. As the top is screwed down I believe this is an ejector pit not a sump well so it is designed to capture gas hense the other PVC line which is your vent. The floor drain is more than likely going directly to the ejector pit by code. My guess is that pump went out at some time Or the check valve as mentioned not correct was letting gases in and they plugged the drain to try to prevent it. Not correct.

    #19 9 days ago

    The small hole is for a trap seal primer mostly used in commercial buildings so traps won't dry out and let sewer gas into the building, yours should be plugged off. Not sure if the previous owner would have plugged the drain due to sewer odor or maybe the pump quit and it was backing up? I would open the sump lid and pour a bucket of water into that drain to make sure it's draining to the sump.

    #20 9 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    Pit has two pipes top side which lead up to ground level. One appears to be a vent

    If I had to guess, the vent is probably to remove radon. When we sold our townhouse, the buyer did a radon test and it was every so slightly elevated, so they made us install a radon remediation system. The installers put a pipe in the sump pit and vented it to the roof. It was ugly (because they ran the pipe up, through the garage, through a closet on the second floor, and out the roof), and has a fan that could potentially fail, but whatever, not my house anymore.

    #21 9 days ago

    Off topic while still being in this topic..... Question- How come nobody puts in basements in Cali?

    It's weird. 85%+ homes in Sask. have one I bet

    #22 8 days ago
    Quoted from northerndude:

    Off topic while still being in this topic..... Question- How come nobody puts in basements in Cali?
    It's weird. 85%+ homes in Sask. have one I bet

    There are rock deposits all over and blasting/drilling is required to clear out. Too expensive to include in tract housing.

    #23 8 days ago
    Quoted from MrBally:

    There are rock deposits all over and blasting/drilling is required to clear out. Too expensive to include in tract housing.

    True. Most homes built in the last 30 years here are just slab directly on top of the soil. Before that crawl spaces. You only see basements in custom homes and even then its rare. I also wondered if climate had something to do with it as we have no frost line to deal with.

    #24 8 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    From my research the side hole is typically a cleanout but its the one that should have a plug and this has no threads so I’m super confused.

    What some people do is drill the side of the floor drain. To allow for ground water to drain away from under the basement slab. This could be illegal in different jurisdictions as excessive water is now entering the sewer system. As apposed to having the sump pump sending the excess water to an outside area along with the run off from your roof.

    (Not a Plumber)

    #25 8 days ago

    Your sump looks like a sewage sump pit. The lid is fastened down and the vent, discharge and power to the pump are sealed to the lid. This is required if you have a bathroom or laundry in your basement, as the drains are lower than the main waste line that leaves the house. Makes sense that you would have a trap in your floor drains so the odors from the sump don't enter the basement. The discharge would go to the municipal sanitary sewer or septic tank, which is why you don't see anything outside when it pumps.

    If it was just a regular sump for ground water you wouldn't need a vent or the lid to be sealed and the sump could pump out onto your lawn. Given that your water table is so low you likely wouldn't need one of these.

    #26 8 days ago
    Quoted from Hammerhead:

    Your sump looks like a sewage sump pit. The lid is fastened down and the vent, discharge and power to the pump are sealed to the lid. This is required if you have a bathroom or laundry in your basement, as the drains are lower than the main waste line that leaves the house. Makes sense that you would have a trap in your floor drains so the odors from the sump don't enter the basement. The discharge would go to the municipal sanitary sewer or septic tank, which is why you don't see anything outside when it pumps.
    If it was just a regular sump for ground water you wouldn't need a vent or the lid to be sealed and the sump could pump out onto your lawn. Given that your water table is so low you likely wouldn't need one of these.

    Interesting.... that makes sense. Recalling talking to the original owners widow it was something not on the plans originally but they city required it to be added and they were never aware of it ever actually kicking on.

    There’s no laundry or restroom in the basement and the only water in the area is for the water heaters then back out. I’m guessing nobody really knew exactly what was proper here so they overbuilt the heck out of it. Although technically if any quantity of water ever did reach the sump it would be from a pipe or water heater break which would be fresh water they probably want fed back into the sewage system.

    I’ll do some more exploring and see if I can figure out what it’s capable of (and what the city will allow). If it is a sewage pump then that might open up a couple other options such as adding a small sink down there.

    #27 8 days ago

    So it looks like it is a sewage pit (no actual sewage involved in the pit itself thank goodness). Trying to get a model number off the pump to see spec there etc. The pit itself is completely enclosed (no gravel, etc and internally just has a 5” pipe which is where water from the floor drains flows into it from. If this sucker has the guts to move sewage then I’m definitely adding asking about draining a sink into it to my question list for the city.

    It’s gonna need a dedicated circuit tho (surprised it doesn’t) as if both Air handlers are running and my fridge is running when it kicks on the breaker trips. Actually with games probably going to need to add a few.

    #28 8 days ago

    Well good thing i watched it run while open... the discharge pipe wasn’t even fully connected to the output on the pump. Also good thing I still have reasonably quick reflexes. I guess water just sort of made it out by it producing enough pressure to push up through the pipe anyway. Finally the pump itself is labeled as a sump pump, the brand is Myers and its over 25 years old.

    Well buttoning this up right just shot up the priority list. No immediate water danger but need mechanicals solid before proceeding. At least I can be confident that there is no long term water issue to worry about and if for some reason water ever got in (ie broken pipe) there are sufficient means to keep the basement from flooding. Maybe even sufficient enough to support some downstairs plumbing fixtures with minimal modifications.

    #29 8 days ago

    Looking at the second picture you posted above- was this enclosed and you opened the area up? I mean you can see the ghost of a 'square' area on the wall where the pipes run in- look at the paint peel and color difference from the rest of the area. And the floor to the right where the tile starts and against the wall on the floor- is that wood? was is framed in? Kinda indicates some sort of recent activity.

    #30 8 days ago
    Quoted from Wmsfan:

    Looking at the second picture you posted above- was this enclosed and you opened the area up? I mean you can see the ghost of a 'square' area on the wall where the pipes run in- look at the paint peel and color difference from the rest of the area. And the floor to the right where the tile starts and against the wall on the floor- is that wood? was is framed in? Kinda indicates some sort of recent activity.

    Yeah, there was a flimsy plywood box with an open back and bottom covering it built by the original homeowner as his wife didn’t want to see it. They also tiled the basement although I don’t know why they opted to tile around the box. It slides in and out of place but is very bulky and doesn’t have any utility other than covering the mechanicals.

    Heres a photo with it back in place.
    image (resized).jpg

    The dumb thing is almost 3’ x 4’... thus my idea of having a cabinet shaped more similar to that of a bar that can be moved in and out in a similar manner.

    #31 8 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    Yeah, there was a flimsy plywood box with an open back and bottom covering it built by the original homeowner as his wife didn’t want to see it. They also tiled the basement although I don’t know why they opted to tile around the box. It slides in and out of place but is very bulky and doesn’t have any utility other than covering the mechanicals.
    Heres a photo with it back in place.[quoted image]

    Put a pinball machine Without legs on the box and problem solved! Lol

    #32 8 days ago
    Quoted from Yelobird:

    Put a pinball machine Without legs on the box and problem solved! Lol

    I wonder if you could hide it in one of those Arcade 1up risers? I don't know if they are hollow or even big enough, but it might be worth a look?

    #33 8 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    True. Most homes built in the last 30 years here are just slab directly on top of the soil. Before that crawl spaces. You only see basements in custom homes and even then its rare. I also wondered if climate had something to do with it as we have no frost line to deal with.

    Depends on the area too. Pretty much every single house in midtown Sacramento has a basement, to raise the house up high enough for when the river used to flood the area.

    #34 7 days ago
    Quoted from dsuperbee:

    Depends on the area too. Pretty much every single house in midtown Sacramento has a basement, to raise the house up high enough for when the river used to flood the area.

    Most of the Antique Victorians here do have them too as this area used to always flood but they are nothing that can be used as a game room. Outdoor access only and usually only about 5’ high... more like a tall crawl space than a basement. Also there aren’t too many left and they are in an area that can get a little rough.

    Quoted from Spyderturbo007:

    I wonder if you could hide it in one of those Arcade 1up risers? I don't know if they are hollow or even big enough, but it might be worth a look?

    Maybe... i think it would take about six of those little guys tho. Maybe some sort of modification of a pedestal arcade.

    #35 6 days ago

    Your going to want easy access to this no mater what it is draining. These pumps fail and the discharge comes apart as you found testing it. Makes a mighty big mess when it happens. No such things as it never happens it just a matter of when. Job site i was on a few months back sump pump discharge line broke and flung water everywhere only reason it was found is some not so bright individual had used sump pump closet as a wiring closet for all phone and av equipment racks. Well as you can guess pump soaked everything in room. Killing phones,phone system all audio video functions and internet switch/router functions in a 10 employee private investment firm. All stuffed in a room 6x5 under a stair case.

    #36 5 days ago

    Yes, no matter what maintaining serviceability will be the top priority. If the city will allow a bar shaped cabinet, i will be doing a custom design of my own to ensure easy access. I’m envisioning the side panels being secured to an inner/outer frame with powerful magnets with the seams concealed with molding. Otherwise i will remake something like the existing box but be much more compact until I can figure out something else.

    For now I redid the outflow so its connected again, replacing it all to the wall including a new check valve and lowering the profile of the plumbing. Might redo it again to get things even tighter once I decide on a new pump (existing works but is old). I’m not rushing to buy a new pump since the basin only collects condensation from our ac units and dehumidifier.

    An interesting thing I noticed is that the section of the old pipe down in the basin was swollen/flanged out. I had never seen that happen to pipe before, it looked very weird.

    #37 5 days ago
    Quoted from merccat:

    An interesting thing I noticed is that the section of the old pipe down in the basin was swollen/flanged out. I had never seen that happen to pipe before, it looked very weird.

    On closer examination, the pipe had burst. I’m guessing someone at some point in time had run it with the valve closed.

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