Apr 252012

In some cold weather installations where the drainage sump pump pumps the water out to grade (your yard) or into an open site drain like your gutter or down spouts a plumber or installer may not use a check valve due to the possibility of the discharge line freezing the trapped water in the pipe during the winter. Even with the possibility of freezing there are some drainage installations that incorporate horizontal discharge pipes where you would want a check valve installed to prevent the lengthy discharge pipe from siphoning back into your basin after the pump shuts off.

We suggest consulting a licenced plumber or foundation specialist familiar with local plumbing codes when routing or connecting your sump pump discharge line. We also suggest that when you replace your sump or sewage pump you also replace the check valve, flappers have been known to break at the hinge and if your pump has failed, your check valve is soon to follow.

If you have a lengthy discharge pipe system we recommend a ball valve to be installed above the check valve to isolate the long column of water when servicing the check valve or the pump. There are some check valves that screw right into the discharge of the sump pump. If you use this type keep in mind that you will have the whole column of water to deal with when you change or services this pump. We also suggest using a separate check valve and ball valve for any two pump (duplex) system. This prevents one pump from back feeding to the other pump.

We also suggest bracing or clamping your pumps discharge pipe securely to the wall or structure to prevent any torque or movement of the pump when it starts or stops. We have heard of poorly installed pump discharge pipes coming apart at the check valve. Again, check you local plumbing codes, some areas do not allow rubber connections in the discharge pipe of any sump or sewage pumps.

Finally, there is a lot of discussion about whether a check valve should be installed horizontally or vertically. This too may be covered in the local plumbing codes. Most check valve manufacturers will emboss arrows on the valve for either method of installation. Some pump manufacturers feel that a check valve installed horizontally will open better if there is a build up of solids, sediment, or waste resting on the flapper. Others feel that the flapper closes better in the vertical position. I personally prefer the vertical installation.

Check out our online catalog for our full line of check valves, from 1-1/4″ thru 4″, including silent check valves and clear check valves, a selection second to none.

Apr 172012

An integral part of most sump pumps and especially sewage pump installations is a check valve installed in the discharge pipe of the pump. In most plumbing codes there is a requirement for a full flow check valve to be installed in any application where a sump or sewage pump is installed. This prevents the back flow from the sanitary or storm sewer siphoning back into your basin or sump pit after the pump shuts off. (See typical installation below)

The check valve is a fitting that has a flapper that acts as a one way trap door by allowing the water flowing out to open the flapper while the pump is running. When the pump stops the water in the discharge line forces the flapper or trap door closed.

There is a secondary benefit to having a check valve, it helps prevent the constant recycling and re-pumping of the same water left in the discharge pipe when the pump shuts off.

Below is a drawing of a typical sump or sewage pump installation. Note the need for a 3/16″ diameter bleed hole in the discharge pipe. We suggest that it be located below the “On” point of the pump being installed. The bleed hole is to prevent an air lock and in essence it would allow water to fill the pump base with water, rather than air.

Typical Installation

Typical Installation

Mar 162011

When I was in college I moved my study room into my parents basement. Yes, I lived at home, I was a “commuter” student. The study room was in an area located right next to the sump pump, which may have been the inspiration for my life’s work.

Late one night in March, I think it was around St. Patrick’s Day, I came home to finish some reading only to find the window well above my desk full of water and leaking around the sash and water running down my cork board wall drenching my desk. Fortunately no electrical devices were on my desk to get wet or damaged. In 1973 the only things that were at risk were my eight track tapes, and they were safe.

The sump pump was running continuously, so I ran outside and found the discharge pipe was un-attached and a huge pond was forming right outside that corner of the house in the flower bed. I think the discharge pipe must have broken apart due to the small diameter pipe being clogged or frozen.

Once a larger down spout pipe was attached the water started to flow away from the house. The next morning the window well was baled out and I was able to drag my cork board and desk out to dry.

Fortunately the basement was sparsely furnished. It was just concrete block walls, old furniture and a few throw rugs. Back then a finished lower level was rare and even then is was referred to as a rec room that may have included a ping pong table, a pool table, laundry room or a bar.

Remembering that event reminds me that by this time of the year, the beginning of spring, you need to take a long hard look at your sump pump discharge and make sure the water you are pumping has a place to go, other than in your flower beds.

So far in Wisconsin we have had a pretty good melt down, but there still may be some drifts and piles of snow that can block the natural drainage from around your home. In addition, you should take a walk around your home and make sure your down spouts and gutters are free and clear because in the event of a heavy spring rain you want the water from your roof to have a place to go.

If your sump basin is dry it would be a good time to carefully add water with a hose or a 5 gallon pail to “test run” your pump. You want to make sure that it runs several times so you know it is ready for the spring rains.

In closing, remember if you have a finished lower level you need protection. Consider a high water alarm or a battery back up system to protect your property.