Sump pump is running too often?

Topic: 
Basements and Crawl Spaces
Question: 

We moved into our home(10 yrs old) last fall. We have 5 acres in the suburbs of minneapolis. We have a finished basement and a sump pump system. As far as I know our basement has always been dry (no strange smells/stains/ etc). Our front yard slopes toward the house with an external tile at the base of the hill that drains to the back of the property.

During the spring thaw our sump pump ran 15-20 times a day for 20 seconds at a time. Now mid-June it still comes on 3-4 times a day. There is a one drop/5 seconds constant drip into the sump pit. The back of our property is considered a wetland-however it is grass without standing water and is 10 down in elevation from the basement.

The frequency of the sump operation concerns me. Is this ?normal or a red flag? Are there external things I should consider. Did they put the house on a spot it shouldn't be on? Is this a ?common scenerio? Please advise.

Regards, MNP

Answer: 

MNP,

Without more information it is impossible to tell if what you are looking at is normal in your case and your area. Let me give you some important factors to consider:

(1) Was this an unusually wet year in your area and if so, are you looking at a situation that may not occur all the time, every year.

(2) Have you been looking at the sump pump on a regular basis or is this one of the first times that you have monitored the situation. If so, consider the possibility that the sump pump system is working in a normal manner.

(3) Have you cleaned out the sump pump well and drain lines? If not, you maybe looking at the simple maintenance issues. For example, the sump well is full of silt and the pump is not working as designed.

(4) It is also possible that the footing drains at the house have deteriorated and/or are full of silt.

(5) Is the gutter system working properly? Maybe this should be question #1 ? it is the most common reason for wet crawl spaces and basement.

(6) It is also possible that the water is coming from your water main or waste water system.

(7) Yes, it is possible that the house was built in the ?wrong place? I hear a lot of complaining about wetland regulations and restrictions in area of wet soils but that?s past history for you. If you are in an area with such conditions you will have to deal with these condition and do the best job of diverting storm water away from the foundation and maintaining your sump pump system.

George