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 Water Backing up periodically
Author: cshults (NY)

Hello all, I have a problem that I could use some help diagnosing and have provided as much info as I can think of right now.

First things first:
I have owned the house for 13 years and have NOT had issues previously, everything has worked fine with no water backing up in the basement and I am aiming to get things back to that status, not change my plumbing set up, rather find and remedy the problem.

My plumbing system:
1) Kitchen sink and sump pump drains are separate but come together and are drained through the same 2" line which ultimately connects with the main house sewer line that exits to the street sewer. Venting for the Kitchen sink and sump is a loop vent located under the kitchen sink. With this venting method, a gurgling can be heard in the kitchen sink when the sump pump runs, annoying yes, but also a nice reminder that the sump pump is operational.
2) Toilet, shower, bathroom sink and basement level washing machine are connected to and drain directly into the house main sewer line which is 12" from the floor drain. These items are vented through a 3" vertical pipe up through the roof.

The problem:
1) Periodic water backing up from floor drain in basement (lowest point in the system).

What I've witnessed:
1) When sump pump has run, air has been pushed out of the kitchen sink drain while I was doing some dishes, causing water to bubble and splash.
2) When sump pump has run, air has been pushed out of the floor drain in the basement causing water to rise above the drain level and to bubble/splash out and onto the floor.
3) When the washing machine has drained, the water level in the floor drain rose and flooded over the brim of the drain and out onto the basement floor, would then slowly recede over the next few minutes and return to normal.
4) Random gurgling noise can sometimes be heard through the kitchen sink when the sump pump ISN'T running..previously a gurgling in the kitchen sink would only be heard when the sump pump ran.
5) NONE of the above symptoms are consistent and cannot be recreated at will.

What I've done:
1) I've had my plumber over to check things out. Told him all that was going on, however, he could not recreate the problem and said that the flow of water through the main sewer line was good and there did not appear to be any blockages and thus did not snake any of the lines. Plumber suggested that I have the sump pump, pump outside the house into the yard instead of into the sewer. (Not a desirable option, causes the yard to flood and I haven't had water backup issues previously so why change what has been working for years?)
2) Looked for a drain cap. I have looked for two types A) a cap with a one way valve to allow water to flow through from above but prevent water from backing up and B) normal type that simply seals the opening. ..I have had no luck, the drain opening is just over 3.25" and all caps I've found are either 3" or 3.5" and will not fit.

Where I'm at:
Frustrated that I don't know what the heck is going on and just want things back to normal. Although the water backup has been fairly minimal as of now, it is annoying.

Thanks for reading and for any help you can provide!

Edited 1 times.

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 Re: Water Backing up periodically
Author: stuckinlodi (MO)

I'm surprised your sump pump is connected to drain into your household sewer line, our city doesn't want any water coming back to them to get treated that wasn't delivered by them in the water supply. That's why storm sewers along streets are a different system than household sewers. Our sump pump drain line goes into the backyard and is considered rainwater runoff. Maybe different areas of the country allow your setup but it seems odd.

If you did find a plug for the basement floor drain (your plumber should be able to find one) are you worried the water would just back up somewhere else, or is that not a possibility? When you do laundry and the washer empties a full amount of water if the floor drain does not back up then I'd think your drain line is ok. Maybe what you have is a city sewer problem in your neighborhood. If the city sewer line near your house has a partial blockage you may be getting water backup from your various neighbors, depending on when and how much water they are putting down the drain. Have you asked the city to check the sewer line near your house?

[edited for spelling errors]

Edited 4 times.

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 Thanks for the reply :grin:
Author: cshults (NY)

Thanks for the reply. Yes, different rules for different areas..My plumber did warn me of some pending legislation from the town that would ban "clean" water from being drained into the sewer system, meaning no more sump pump/rain water will be allowed to be drained into the sewer,..no timetable on when/if that might actually happen though...

To your other point, no, I haven't contacted the town about a potential blockage in my area. Now that you mention it, though, the days I've caught water backing up through the floor drain, it has been raining.. So far I haven't noticed water backing up on days that it has not been raining.

Yesterday we had fairly light rain, but rain nonetheless and I was doing laundry; every time the washing machine would drain, the floor drain would back up and overflow. Now today, I tried to recreate that same problem and completely filled the washing machine tub with water and then drained it and there was absolutely no issue, the water level in the floor drain barely moved at all. This seems to fall in line with your thought that there may be a blockage in the street somewhere.. I will call the town tomorrow to report what's going on and see if they've gotten other similar reports or if they'll send someone out to check the street lines.

However, I'm still puzzled by the air backing up in my kitchen sink and in the floor drain in the basement...

Edited 3 times.

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 Re: Water Backing up periodically
Author: Wheelchair (IL)

Storm waters and Waste Waters, should never meet. Fed Law, State Law, County and Community Law'd.

Waste waters (sewerage) is metered by most communities and cities for MONEY. Waste Waters are treated with chemical and processing and returned pure back into the waterways. The cost of processing waste waters is not getting cheaper and actually getting more expensive. The community pays for it in taxes and fees.

When storm waters enter the waste water it MUST be processed the very same way as all waste and is metered as waste, when in fact, it is not waste, dirty or carries organic waste. For example: if you add 1 million gallons of storm water to 1 million gallons of waste water, the price/cost to process will double and may triple as it burdens the process of reducing waste waters.

This explains why so many communities are help to defray to cost of disconnecting the storm waters from the waste water system. Because it saves the community, that much money.

Now, as some may say, "what the Gov doesn't know........" You are paying for it, your community is paying for it, they county is paying for it.. as well as your State.

I mentioned this not to make you feel bad, but some of your issues may actually clear up with the disconnection of the storm waters, from your waste waters and the sewer line can then be inspected and power washed to be sure it is clear n clean.

Best Wishes

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 Re: Water Backing up periodically
Author: stuckinlodi (MO)

As to the kitchen sink gurgling you could have the plumber clean your drain vent for the kitchen, from the roof down (if that is how it is run), but from what I hear they don't often cause a problem. That vent loop you mentioned under the kitchen sink, can you tell us more about it? Depending on how much water your sump pump is pushing out it may be overloading that kitchen sink vent it is connected to, how large is that vent pipe? If you would vent the sump pump separately that would likely cure the kitchen sink gurgling.

Also, does your sump pump run often, even on days when it doesn't rain? If you live in a low lying area and have groundwater not far below ground your sump pump may be putting water into your main sewer drain pipe often, so if there is a partial blockage near the end of your sewer line or nearby in the city sewer it could be that the sump water is keeping your sewer line nearly loaded with water. Then when you shower or do laundry it adds more water and you get the backup. And on days that it does rain if your house foundation drainage system sends a lot of water to the sump pump it could keep your sewer line loaded with a lot of water if the line isn't completely open.

Since you said that the sump pump would flood your backyard if it drained outside that indicates it was like that at one time and got changed. Plus it sounds like it puts out a lot of water when it rains, I'm wondering if all that water going into your sewer drain that is not fully open could be your problem.

Do you have a cleanout plug outside that you can look down into and see if there is any standing water in your sewer line when you notice the basement floor drain has backed up? Can you connect a drain hose to the sump pump temporarily and discharge its water outside just to eliminate it as the source of your problem? If you have a next door neighbor with a basement floor drain, see if they are having backup problems too, that would be more evidence of a city sewer problem.

Another consideration about putting your sump pump groundwater into the municipal sewer is that groundwater often has chemicals from fertilizer and pesticides we put on our yards. Not good for that to go to the water treatment plant, no matter how well they filter it.

[edited to fix spelling errors]

Edited 9 times.

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 Re: Water Backing up periodically
Author: cshults (NY)

The kitchen sink isn't connected to a vent from the roof, it only has a loop vent. I'm not really sure how it could get clogged as it is a closed loop and no water/waste runs through it. I would post pictures but not sure how to do that/if I can do that here. But basically, the p-trap of the kitchen sink drain connects to a vertical T-pipe, one end of the T-pipe drains down into the basement, the other end of the T-pipe goes upward and makes a 90* right turn underneath the sink to the other side of the cabinet, then another 90* turn downward and "loops" down into the basement and meets up with the drain line. The sump pump also meets up with these lines right around this point in the basement as well.

The sump only runs often when it rains. When it's dry it seldom runs. The reason I know the yard floods when the sump discharges outdoors is because I do have a battery backup sump pump system with a separate discharge pipe which discharges outside and has been used on more than one occasion over the past 13 years and makes a mess of the yard in the process.

I do have a cleanout outside, the plumber observed the flow through the cleanout when he came and determined that the flow of water looked fine and talked me out of having the line snaked. We ran the sump, flushed the toilet, filled the sink and let it drain and he could not see the water level rise in the cleanout nor could we get the floor drain to overflow..of course it was not raining on the day we were doing this. As I mentioned in the first post, we had rain yesterday and the washing machine draining caused the floor drain to overflow repeatedly. Now today, no rain and the washer draining caused zero issues. I'm leaning more and more toward a slow moving street sewer line..

Edited 1 times.

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