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Troubleshooting Tips

In this approach, a process is used to identify flood water sources. Once these sources are verified, the most cost-effective plan is devised to stop water from entering the basement.

Remember, you must obtain a City of Regina Building Permit if you intend to install a backflow valve so that the City of Regina can inspect the work to ensure that the job has been done according to the Plumbing Code. A permit is not required for adding a sump pump.

Problem #1: Water entering at the basement walls and concrete floor

Symptoms Wet carpets and floors along basement walls.
Probable causes and solutions

Cause: Downspouts are too short and water is percolating through the backfill zone Solution:   Extend downspouts so that they discharge rainwater at least 2 m from the foundation onto a splash pad. Also position a rain barrel to catch rooftop water, ensuring its overflow spout discharges water away at least 2 m away from the foundation 

Cause: Downspouts and/or eavestroughs are clogged and rainwater is spilling onto the ground around the foundation and percolating into the backfill zone Solution:Clean and leak proof eaves and downspouts each spring. If your underground yard pipe is buried, it may be blocked with roof debris. Disconnect your downspout the next time it rains. If there is a sudden, strong, steady flow that quickly slows after a few minutes, the underground yard pipe is plugged. You need to redirect the downspout to the surface. This will require adding an extension and splash pad.

Cause: Low spots on the backfill zone are allowing water to pool next to the foundation Solution: Add soil over the backfill zone, sloping it away from the foundation.

Problem #2: Water entering the basement from under the basement floor from the sump pit (no sump pump is installed)

Symptoms   Water flowing from sump pit onto basement floor or heaving basement floor
Probable causes and solutions

Cause: Water being collected by the weeping tile is accumulating in the sump pit with P-trap cap in place Solution: Remove the P-trap cap to drain water from the sump pit into the domestic sewer. If you are unable to remove the P-trap cap and weeping tile water is filling the sump pit, hand bailing is another way to dispose of the rainwater. Install a proper sump pump to move water outside the house and away from the foundation, as shown below. This is the recommended solution.

Cause: Sump pump failure Solution: Repair sump pump

Problem #3: Water enters the basement from the sump pit (sump pump in place)

Symptoms Water flowing onto the basement floor out of the sump pit.
Probable causes and solutions

Cause: The sump pump has failed Solution: Exercise extreme care when around the sump pump, as you will be working with electricity near water. Follow the instruction manual supplied with the sump pump. If in doubt, call a plumber.

Should you want to service the sump pump yourself, the following is a list of things to check:

  • Is there electricity to the pump?
  • Are the floats stuck? (submersible pumps don't have floats)

If your basement is flooding with weeping tile water, replace the sump pump as soon as possible. A call to a plumber may be the quickest answer. Replacing the failed pump with a new one is also an option. Meanwhile, if your basement is flooding, you may need to hand bail the sump pit to prevent overflow.

Another option is opening the P-trap by removing the cap. Remember, if the sewer is surcharged, there is a risk of sewer backup in addition to the weeping tile flooding.

Problem #4: Sewer backup entering at basement floor drains

Symptoms Sewage flowing from floor drains and basement plumbing such as toilets, showers and washing machine standpipes.
Cause and probable solutions

Cause: Too much storm water or snow melt in the domestic sewer is causing the sewer to back up Solution 1: Thread in all basement floor drain caps, including the P-trap. Also, close the gate valve (hand cranking).  A gate valve is usually a large, red handled valve that is sometimes recessed in the floor. In developed basements the gate valve is often hidden between walls or under a sink vanity.

If sewage is coming out of the floor drains, close the gate valve until the flow stops. The gate valve protects only the plumbing connected to that pipe. Remember to open the gate valve after the storm has passed. Solution 2: Install a sewer backflow valve which prevents sewer backup from the sanitary sewer, automatically preventing raw sewage from entering your home. A sump pump will automatically discharge weeping tile water from the sump pit to your yard. Together a sump pump and backflow valve combination offer a high level of basement flooding protection. 

Problem #5: Your sump pump operates continually, but doesn’t move much water

Symptoms Only small volumes of water are pumped and the sump pit water level hardly drops; but the sump pump works constantly.
Cause and probable solutions 

Cause: No check valve is in the sump pump discharge pipe. Without a check valve, water flows back down the discharge pipe into the sump pit, partially refilling it and initiating another pump cycle. Solution: Inspect the sump pump to see if there is a check valve in the pipe. If not install a check valve. (Check valves can be located just above the sump pump or near the basement ceiling where the pipe passes through the house wall.)

Cause: Downspouts are too short and water is percolating through the backfill zone and filling sump pit Solution:   Extend downspouts so that they discharge rainwater at least 2 m from the foundation onto a splash pad. Also position a rain barrel to catch rooftop water, ensuring its overflow spout discharges water away at least 2 m away from the foundation 

Cause: Downspouts and/or eavestroughs are clogged and rainwater is spilling onto the ground around the foundation and percolating into the backfill zone which fills sump pit Solution:Clean and leak proof eaves and downspouts each spring. If your underground yard pipe is buried, it may have become blocked with roof debris. Disconnect your downspout the next time it rains. If there is a sudden, strong, steady flow that quickly slows after a few minutes, the underground yard pipe is plugged. You may wish to redirect the downspout to the surface. This will require adding an extension and splash pad.

Cause: Sump pump not operating properly Solution: Service sump pump

Problem #6: The sump pit overflows quickly during a power outage

Symptom Water flowing onto the basement floor from sump pit.
Probable cause and solutions

Cause: The sump pit is too small to contain the weeping tile water until the power comes on again. Solution: Enlarge the sump pit to handle a 2-hour power outage. The sump pit should have a water storage capacity of 250 litres.  Recommended minimum dimensions are:
Length: 60 cm
Width: 60 cm
Depth: 30 cm