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Sump pump got me down... I think I got ripped off

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Sump pump got me down... I think I got ripped off

Old 02-18-08, 08:33 AM
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Sump pump got me down... I think I got ripped off

Sorry about this, need to whine...

So, we here in Chicago have been suffering through the snowiest winter in 80 years with about twice the annual average amount of snow already. We had over a foot of snow pack on the ground yesterday when suddenly the weather became over 50 degrees ambient and torrential rain moved in. By the afternoon, we'd already had an inch of rain and about two thirds of the snow had melted... so we had the equvalent of about three inches of rain on the ground. Huge floods everywhere.

Of course, at about 6PM on a Sunday night, my sump pump decided to fail. I have a battery-operated back-up but the battery quickly wore out. I tested the main pump by plugging it directly into the socket (circumventing the switch) and it works, so apparently the float-activated switch was broken. I call my plumber: he broke his leg and can't come. I call a plumber a friend recommended, he doesn't answer the phone. Knowing I'm tempting fate, I turn to the Yellow Pages... a true sign of desperation.

At 9:15 PM, after nursing my backup-pump along by periodically plugging the main pump directly in, an extremely shifty guy wearing the worst sweater I've ever seen and reeking of bourbon shows up. I demonstrate the pump, he agrees that the switch is broken but the pump is working. He says he doesn't have a switch (which is probably true as each manufacturer uses different switch) but can replace the whole damned pump. Bracing myself, I ask for the damage... $685.

Fuck.

It's 9:30 on a Sunday night, I've got a disaster waiting to happen in my basement and here's a guy who's able to fix it, but wants me to take out a second mortgage for him to do so. What can I do? I agree to pay him, even though I know that a good sump pump costs about $100 and I'm in effect paying him $500-600 for about half an hour of labor.

Moral of the story 1: buy a spare sump pump and leave it in your basement. Ideally, learn to replace it yourself.

Moral of the story 2: send your kids to plumbing school. It's a great job.
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Old 02-18-08, 08:46 AM
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Yup, you got hosed. Your float is probably a black canister with a ball rolling around. I replaced min with one from Menards for less than $20. If you sump plugs into that, then the float is universal, since it controls power to the pump.



You should have probably posted here for help before calling. Hell, for $700 I would have manually ran my pump until my plumber's leg healed.

At least you can easily repair your existing pump to have, and write it off as a lesson learned.

http://www.cshincorporated.com/index.php/cPath/112_21
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Old 02-18-08, 08:48 AM
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Originally Posted by jonw9
Yup, you got hosed. Your float is probably a black canister with a ball rolling around. I replaced min with one from Menards for less than $20. If you sump plugs into that, then the float is universal, since it controls power to the pump.



You should have probably posted here for help before calling. Hell, for $700 I would have manually ran my pump until my plumber's leg healed.
First, thanks for making me feel better . Secondly, on closer inspection I was wrong, it's actually a diaphram (however the hell you spell that)-operated switch that's built into the pump.
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Old 02-18-08, 08:51 AM
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Why didn't you just replace it yourself? They are so easy.... You could of just taken a ride to the 24hour home depot and bought the pump for $150.00 and had it done in an hour.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:03 AM
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Originally Posted by ANDREMIKE
Why didn't you just replace it yourself? They are so easy.... You could of just taken a ride to the 24hour home depot and bought the pump for $150.00 and had it done in an hour.
Yeah, you've got a point. As I said, I've got to learn how to do it. In my defense, trying to put in a sump pump alone when you've never done it, don't have any tools or spare pipe and water is absolutely flooding in is not an ideal situation.

I hate being the idiotic/know-nothing homeowner of a plumber's dream.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:08 AM
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I spent the night waking up every 30-45 minutes going outside to manually run a sump-pump in a window well that's under the back deck. It's a drain hole, but the pipes were put together poorly and it leaks into the basement. Soaked the carpet in about a 10 foot radius from the wall before we noticed and started running the pump. It has a float, but it's activate level is way above the drainage hole and wouldn't have helped.

Good thing I already had today off, our office is half staff on President's Day, and I got lucky this year.

They are honestly very easy to replace, the first time I did it, I was actually a little nervous, a sump-pump virgin if you will. But, I just reached down into that cold, wet hole, grabbed the long pole, and yanked off that hard metal thing off the end of it, slapped another one on, and stuck it back in the hole. I've done it a couple more since, but I did have my dad help me install a battery backup one last fall since it involved creating a y-junction.
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Old 02-18-08, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Yeah, you've got a point. As I said, I've got to learn how to do it. In my defense, trying to put in a sump pump alone when you've never done it, don't have any tools or spare pipe and water is absolutely flooding in is not an ideal situation.

I hate being the idiotic/know-nothing homeowner of a plumber's dream.

You know you could of turned to the internet or this forum on how to replace the pump...
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Old 02-18-08, 09:31 AM
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Yeah, all the folks that come here for medical advice (should I have this festering, open wound looked at?), I think we could have helped with a sump pump.


And as long as we're on the subject, can anyone recommend a "basement doctor" type company in the Chicago suburbs that could help with my problem above? We also have a sump well with no pump in it that always has a bit of water in it I'd like to have filled in.

thanks
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Old 02-18-08, 09:40 AM
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Not sure I understand your problem or what you are doing. But it sounds like you just need to adjust your float so the pump comes on sooner. If your pit is real shallow then maybe you can put the pump lower in the pit. Can you dig it out?
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Old 02-18-08, 09:57 AM
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It's right up against the foundation and I'm honestly a little concerned about structural issues. I'd be far happier finding some way to have it filled in.
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Old 02-18-08, 10:05 AM
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So you have a pump in a basement window well? Your window well drain should be attached to your pit in the basement. Have you looked to see if the drain is clogged? If there is truely no drain in your window well then I would dig out the window well so you can bury a pump in the window well. The other thing you could do is to run a drain tile from the window well to your other drain tiles under the house..

Does your basement have a regular sump pump?
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Old 02-18-08, 10:09 AM
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Y dont u just buy a new pump you can get them for about $150 brand new
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Old 02-18-08, 10:38 AM
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Originally Posted by ANDREMIKE
So you have a pump in a basement window well? Your window well drain should be attached to your pit in the basement. Have you looked to see if the drain is clogged? If there is truely no drain in your window well then I would dig out the window well so you can bury a pump in the window well. The other thing you could do is to run a drain tile from the window well to your other drain tiles under the house..

Does your basement have a regular sump pump?

Technically it does drain into the regular sump well, but when it flash-floods, it comes through the window into the basement, and even when it's just a little extra water, the rocket scientists that installed it, put the female end of one of the drain pipe facing down over the male end, and due to settling or something, any amount of water going in that drain trickles down that wall and soaks the carpet.
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Old 02-18-08, 10:59 AM
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Please turn in your man/husband/father/homeowner card.

I have two pumps in the house I bought in '05, and before that I had never seen a sump pump in my life. I had one go out on me last year. First thing I did...reach in and take it out. Gross, but necessary. Took a look at it, then went to Menard's and got another one. Maybe $150. Dropped the new one in, stuck the pipe on top, tightened the clamp and presto, new working pump. Ten minutes labor, thirty minutes shopping/driving time. All done alone, at night. I think the only tool used was a screwdriver. You do have a screwdriver, don't you?
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Old 02-18-08, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by Numanoid
Please turn in your man/husband/father/homeowner card.

I have two pumps in the house I bought in '05, and before that I had never seen a sump pump in my life. I had one go out on me last year. First thing I did...reach in and take it out. Gross, but necessary. Took a look at it, then went to Menard's and got another one. Maybe $150. Dropped the new one in, stuck the pipe on top, tightened the clamp and presto, new working pump. Ten minutes labor, thirty minutes shopping/driving time. All done alone, at night. I think the only tool used was a screwdriver. You do have a screwdriver, don't you?
I can only dream of attaining your level of awesomeness.
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Old 02-18-08, 11:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
I can only dream of attaining your level of awesomeness.
Your lack of awesomeness cost you an extra $535 and a case of the surprise buttsecks from a gypsy plumber.
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Old 02-18-08, 12:17 PM
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I highly recommend the float-type switches similar to post #2. You secure the float's wire with a cable clamp to something in the sump well. (the pipe in my case), run the wire up to the outlet. It has a piggyback plug on the back of its plug. Plug in your sump pump; done.

My pump is over 30 years old (predates when I bought the house) and the float switch is at least 20. Together, they pump sump like a champ.
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Old 02-18-08, 01:21 PM
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Originally Posted by crazyronin
Your lack of awesomeness cost you an extra $535 and a case of the surprise buttsecks from a gypsy plumber.
He was kinda gypsy-ish. Didn't even have the common decency to offer me a reach-arround.
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Old 02-18-08, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
He was kinda gypsy-ish. Didn't even have the common decency to offer me a reach-arround.
Moving to the "2 Pumps and a Dump Sump" thread
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Old 02-18-08, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by Hiro11
Moral of the story 2: send your kids to plumbing school. It's a great job.
I was dating a girl who's parents were pretty well off. Since I wouldn't be seeing any of that cash until they died, I dropped her ass and started dating another girl. Well, that and she was a smoker.

Anyway, the new girl's father is a plumber/HVAC/construction kinda guy. I figured I could start cashing in on that right away, and he has saved me a lot of money, even in the first 6 months of owning a house.
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Old 02-19-08, 01:10 PM
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Same thing happened to me about a month ago. huge melt and lots of rain dealt a fatal blow to the sump pump and it flooded the basement. Had about a 1/2 of water everywhere. had to move everything out of the basement(finished) ourselves and then came the "no-grease" attack by the plumber ($700 for a new sump pump), $1500 to dry the basement and remove the carpet and base boards and $2900 for new carpet. Not too mention we had to buy new office furniture as the desk was of the pressed board variety. In all a very expensive lesson.
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Old 02-19-08, 01:25 PM
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Originally Posted by buckee1
Same thing happened to me about a month ago. huge melt and lots of rain dealt a fatal blow to the sump pump and it flooded the basement. Had about a 1/2 of water everywhere. had to move everything out of the basement(finished) ourselves and then came the "no-grease" attack by the plumber ($700 for a new sump pump), $1500 to dry the basement and remove the carpet and base boards and $2900 for new carpet. Not too mention we had to buy new office furniture as the desk was of the pressed board variety. In all a very expensive lesson.

Hopefully the lesson was to pay the $25/year on your homeowners insurance to get sump coverage.
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Old 02-19-08, 04:14 PM
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Originally Posted by jonw9
Hopefully the lesson was to pay the $25/year on your homeowners insurance to get sump coverage.
Water backup coverage saved our hides when we flooded last fall due to a power outage and needed work done, carpet replaced. We spent some of the money on a Basement Watchdog system.
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Old 02-19-08, 06:38 PM
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Originally Posted by PrincessT
Water backup coverage saved our hides when we flooded last fall due to a power outage and needed work done, carpet replaced. We spent some of the money on a Basement Watchdog system.
Us too. But, I swear that ever since that's happened, I never feel 100% comfortable that something won't happen again, even with a battery backup (the next house we buy will hopefully be somewhere that doesn't need a sump pump). I know that you can't go through life worrying about things that could very well not happen, but still....

What's a Basement Watchdog system?
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Old 10-14-08, 02:09 PM
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Thought I'd resurrect this thread.

My primary pump failed last month when he had our massive amounts of rain and I wound up with a few inches of water. I had a new one put in, but we want to have a backup pump installed before we re-furnish (paint, new carpet, setup HT gear, etc.).

Now, I am not a handyman by any stretch, and no matter how easy it might sound to those who have done it, I do not want to install the backup myself. I want a professional to do it so I have peace of mind knowing it was done right.

So my question is, if I go buy the pump system myself (The Basement Watchdog high end system), what is a reasonable amount of money I could expect to pay a plumber to install it?

Last edited by bunkaroo; 10-14-08 at 02:11 PM.
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