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Old 08-17-2010, 06:08 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,738 posts, read 8,937,269 times
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Our home inspector said the sump pumps in the house we're about to buy were not working. He tested them by pouring about 3 gallons of water into each one. The pumps didn't come on when the water reached the drainage tiles.

The seller agreed in an addendum to have these fixed, among other things. She had a waterproofing contractor come out, but instead of fixing them, he inspected them and said they're operational. Then we protested that he wasn't a real plumber as required by the addendum--so they had John C. Flood come out--and they said the same thing.

The thing is, we really trust the home inspector. He's been doing it for probably 30 years, has tons of training, is ASHI certified--so we're inclined to believe him. But we settle Friday--and we don't want the seller to think we're trying to cheat them or be difficult.

Anyone here an expert on sump pumps or know if there's any room for interpretation on the water level at which they should come on?

As always, thanks much for any advice or information.
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Old 08-17-2010, 08:58 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
5,076 posts, read 5,342,803 times
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I don't know much about sump pumps other than the one in the house we are purchasing needs replacing as well. Since the seller has refused to pay for a replacement (they believe it works just fine), that is the first thing we will be upgrading when we move in. Fortunately, my Dad says it's pretty easy to replace and he can do it for us without us having to contract a plumber which will save us about $250. I can also hover over his shoulder and watch and learn for the next time.

Perhaps your Realtor can arrange with the Listing Agent/Sellers to have a third-opinion (or even bring back Joe C. Flood) and that YOU be there to see it for yourself. They can instruct you on why it's working for them but not for your home inspector. After all, you are purchasing the home and you need to know how to properly operate it.

Perhaps I'm on the cynical side, but Joe C. Flood is working on behalf of the seller and your home inspector is working on YOUR behalf. I don't mean to imply that the seller is doing anything shady, but if it were me and I didn't want the cost of replacement to fall on my shoulders, I would insist on being shown how to properly operate the sump pump before releasing the home inspection contingency.
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Old 08-17-2010, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Washington, DC & New York
10,830 posts, read 26,335,653 times
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You can request an escrow of the cost to fix/replace and then have your inspector meet with their plumber to discuss the issue, if you cannot get it done before settlement. You can then determine whether or not the pumps need to be replaced. You will have to pay your inspector for his time, but it would resolve the issue, as to whether or not it's a problem with the pumps. You should be there, the seller should be there, the inspector should be there, and the plumber should be there, just so that there is full disclosure and resolution.
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Old 08-17-2010, 10:18 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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HokieFan, BMWguy, thank you both for your thoughts.

We're doing the final walk-through Friday AM with our agent and our home inspector. Our agent seems to think the home inspector is wrong--but I think the agents are biased against anything that could imperil a sale, other than some major thing.

The seller has already paid well over $1000 to fix other electrical and plumbing stuff, so it's not like they're trying to weasel out of something. And I have to admit that JC Flood would have every motivation to fix the sumps if they needed it, rather than state in writing that they need no repairs.

BMWguy, my wife has a 318ti. We love it. If only they will bring the 1-series diesel hatchbacks over here!
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:53 PM
 
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Look into the sump pit with a flashlight. If it's bone dry, then I wouldn't lose much sleep over it. You'd have to put a whole lot of water in there to have it kick in. And, you probably have a dry foundation. If you see (even a little bit of) water down there, you better get a new pump in.
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Old 08-17-2010, 12:57 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
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Thanks, Coolio. So the assertion that they should come on when the water is as high as the drainage tiles is bunk?
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Old 08-17-2010, 02:42 PM
 
473 posts, read 986,149 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Thanks, Coolio. So the assertion that they should come on when the water is as high as the drainage tiles is bunk?
Yes. You've got to remember that there's all these cracks and gaps for the water to go. It's like thinking you can turn on the water hose and fill an empty small-sized swimming pool in 5-10 minutes. it's gonna take time. Hence, it's gonna take time for you to fill the sump pit with enough water to have the pump kick in.

We're due to have 1-2" of rain tomorrow. Maybe check again on Thursday?
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Old 08-17-2010, 02:48 PM
 
Location: In the woods
3,315 posts, read 8,772,060 times
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I wouldn't trust the Seller and their team of plumbers either. They're looking out for their best interests not yours. As mentioned, have them meet you at the house and "test" it since they think it's operational. Maybe there really is some kind of device or button that activates it. And yes, if the water is as high as the rim /flush with your floor, then it definitely should be kicking in. Mine kicks in when water is at least 8"-1' below the rim.

Something else: our sump pump is electric with a battery backup. This was done in case the electricity went out. We also asked the Seller to have the sump pump on a dedicated line. My house is old too -- 1930. The downstairs plumbing is a little strange: anything emptied into the utility sink and the washing machine goes into the sump pump first and then out of the house.

Also, where does the water empty into? Public sewage? I looked at a very old house one time (built in 1785) and the sump pump emptied into the backyard!
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:04 PM
 
106 posts, read 83,851 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Thanks, Coolio. So the assertion that they should come on when the water is as high as the drainage tiles is bunk?
There are two ways to check the sump pump.

1. Put a few gallons of water into the sump pit and then lift the float by hand all the way to the top to see if the pump activates and pumps the water out. Note the activation point relative to the drain tile height.

2. Pull the plug from the outlet, separate the two piece plug, and then insert that back plug into the outlet to see if the pump kicks in.

With the float, the pump will only come on once the water level reaches a height enough for the float to activate the pump. There's a metal ball inside the float that completes a circuit that activates the pump.

Sometimes, the tether on the float is long, and will activate the pump when the water goes above the drain tile. To remedy this scenario, you can swap out your sump pump with a model that has a vertical float.

For the Flotec models, activation for the tethered models is usually 14" while it is 8" for the vertical float.

http://www.sears.com/shc/s/p_10153_1...u=08330590000P

Flotec FP0S2450A Submer. Sump Pump w/ Vert. Float Sw., 1/3HP

BTW, I do not recommend the services of John C. Flood.
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Old 08-17-2010, 03:06 PM
 
106 posts, read 83,851 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by South Jersey Styx View Post
I wouldn't trust the Seller and their team of plumbers either. They're looking out for their best interests not yours. As mentioned, have them meet you at the house and "test" it since they think it's operational. Maybe there really is some kind of device or button that activates it. And yes, if the water is as high as the rim /flush with your floor, then it definitely should be kicking in. Mine kicks in when water is at least 8"-1' below the rim.

Something else: our sump pump is electric with a battery backup. This was done in case the electricity went out. We also asked the Seller to have the sump pump on a dedicated line. My house is old too -- 1930. The downstairs plumbing is a little strange: anything emptied into the utility sink and the washing machine goes into the sump pump first and then out of the house.

Also, where does the water empty into? Public sewage? I looked at a very old house one time (built in 1785) and the sump pump emptied into the backyard!
It's against code in NoVA for sumps to empty into the sewer system. Most sumps in this area empty outside of the house.
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