Published on August 30th, 2012 | by Henri


Replacing sump pump with drain pipe?

Q.    I have a basement sump pump that operates during heavy prolonged rains. I have a steep slope in the front of my house and was wondering if a straight 4″ PVC open-ended gravity drain pipe would be just as effective and more reliable.

I would start the pipe close to the foundation (below the elevation of the basement floor) and slope it underground away from the house for about 30 feet. Would it have to originate near the existing sump, or would any location along the foundation drain away any rising groundwater?

A.    The fact that you have a sump pump that operates during heavy rains tells me that if there is a drain on the exterior of your foundation, it may be clogged and not functioning. Or it may be that there is no foundation drain. In either case, the pipe you propose to install may not be very effective.

However, if there is a functioning drain, where does it discharge now? It would be unusual for a builder to direct the discharge of an exterior drainpipe to a sump pump when there is a slope that would permit a daylight discharge. So there may be an existing drainpipe to daylight that became clogged over time. You may want to look for it on the slope. If your research fails to find an existing daylight drainpipe or you know that there is no foundation drain (or assume that it is clogged), you may want to try your idea of installing a pipe from the nearest corner of the house to the discharge point that you select.

If you do, I suggest that you follow these steps: dig out a 2-feet square and 2-feet deep area to form a pit at the base of the foundation with half of it below the footing, line its sides with geotextile fabric, fill it with egg-size stones, cover the stones with fabric and install the drain pipe at the bottom of the pit. This may work in catching water from a rising water table. I urge you not to get rid of the sump pump just in case the new pipe does not do the job or eventually silts up.

A final question to ask yourself: Is it really worth doing all this work and disturbing existing landscaping if the present system does the job?

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