Q: Why are my walls damp looking in some areas?
A: The most common reason for damp looking blocks is the wicking of moisture from the damp/wet soil on the exterior of the basement wall. The bottom of the wall may be affected more since the greatest concentration of moisture exists there. This is not an indication of water sitting inside the cavities of the block. Another possibility is high humidity causing condensation on the cool surface of the foundation wall. There are a few things that can help solve this.
1. Remove humidity from the basement with a dehumidifier to control condensation. You may want to consider a sub-slab ventilation/radon system to help reduce humidity. This helps circulate air through the drain tile system and blocks. Call Standard Water for details.
2. Make improvements to grade, draining as much surface water as possible away from your foundation.
3. Maintain gutters and lengthen downspouts. See U of M Extension Environment report Moisture in Basements: Causes and Solutions at standardwater.com/resources
4. Seal the foundation walls. See U of M report Moisture in Basements: Causes and Solutions at standardwater.com/resources
5. Apply a vapor barrier directly to inside of your foundation wall and tuck into our Diamond Drainage Board™ prior to finishing (Code Requirement). Our solution to this problem may include Diamond Brite Vapor GuardSM which we also use for crawl space encapsulation. More info at standardwater.com. For more information visit the Minnesota Department of Commerce (www.commerce.state.mn.us). View the Energy Info Center’s Home Energy Guide.
Q: I have black stuff – or brown stuff – or white fuzzy powdery stuff on my foundation wall. What is it and how do I get rid of it? Could it be mold?
A: In most cases this is efflorescence. If you are concerned that there may be mold present, you can have it tested by a mold testing/removal contractor. Efflorescence is excess minerals and salts which form as blotchy, powdery or crystalline deposits on the surface of the masonry walls and other concrete surfaces. Over time efflorescence loses its transparency and eventually will turn black, especially when it finally works its way out from behind certain paints. One recommended way to remove efflorescence is to use a wire brush. First, wash the area with water, then scrub with a solution of one part vinegar and five parts water. Elbow grease may be required. Immediately wash again with an alkaline solution of diluted household ammonia.
It is strongly recommended that you become familiar with your pump by reviewing your owners’ manual completely. We also recommend having the pump checked every two years.
Q: I need an owners’ manual for my pump.
A: You should have received the owners’ manual along with other documentation in the mail shortly after the work was completed. If you didn’t receive one or it has been misplaced go to the resources section of our website at standardwater.com/resources where you can print off a copy or call Standard Water Control to have another one mailed to you. If you experience problems that the manual doesn’t address you can set up a service call by calling Standard Water Control at 1-800-978-7867. Service fees may apply.
Q: My pump is running and won’t shut off. There is very little or no water in the basin.
A: This may indicate the pump needs to be serviced or replaced. One or both of the floats is obstructed and cannot drop down. Check the floats. Call our office for service if needed.
Q: Does the pump have a check valve?
A: Yes. The check valve is attached to the pump. It prevents the backflow of water from the discharge pipe.
Q: My pump is running, no water is pumping out and the cover is hot.
A: Unplug your pump immediately. Check the discharge pipe for obstructions such as ice. If frozen, thaw using a hair dryer. You may need to remove the cover to see that the clamps didn’t come loose and disconnect or the check valve might have failed. If so reconnect and tighten the clamps. Test the pump. If no water goes out then the check valve may be defective and/or failed. You can call us for service.
Q: Should the pump remain plugged in year round?
A: Yes. Check to make sure the pump is plugged in when the job is completed.
Q: What type of electrical outlet is needed for the pump?
A: The pump draws about 4 amps. A grounded outlet on a 15-amp circuit should be adequate. It’s a good idea to check with your municipality regarding electrical codes.
Q: How high should the water get in the sump basin before the pump turns on?
A: The pump has a dual float switch and controller and is set up at the time of installation to come on when the water reaches a level in your sump basin of 9 to 12 inches. It will shut off at 2 to 4 inches deep. You may notice a small spray of water at the base of the check valve just before the pump shuts off. This is normal. There is a small breather hole drilled there to help prevent air lock.
Q: How can I test the pump?
A: Remove the bolts and slide the basin over a few inches or remove the rubber plug around the pump’s power cord and wires from control box and start adding water. You can pour the water in or insert a garden hose. The pump will come on when the water gets deep enough to activate the pump which would be around 9 to 12 inches deep.
Q: How long is the warranty on the pump?
A: The pump is warranted against defects for 3 years from the date of installation. It is recommended that you check with your homeowner’s insurance agent to obtain a rider to cover damages should the pump malfunction. Not all insurance companies have this available, so you may want to shop around.
Q: How long will my pump last?
A: This depends on how much it runs. Most pumps last 5 to 7 years.
Q: Who should I call for service?
A: You can call Standard Water Control for service on pumps at 1-800-978-7867.
It is strongly recommended that you become familiar with your backup pump by reviewing your owner’s manual completely. We also recommend having the pump checked every two years.
Q: I need an owners’ manual for my backup pump.
A: If you purchased the optional Battery Backup Sump Pump System, an instruction manual should have been provided with it. If the manual is missing go to the resources section of our web site standardwater.com/resources where you can print off a copy. If you experience problems that the manual doesn’t address you can set up a service call by calling Standard Water Control at 1-800-978-7867. Service fees may apply.
Q: The alarm on my backup pump is going off.
A: Look at the front of the control module that features a series of warning lights pinpointing potential problems. Read the text next to the warning light that is on and follow the instructions. You can silence the alarm by firmly pressing the gray button for 7 to 10 seconds. Refer to your instruction manual.
Q: How long will the battery last on my system?
A: Generally batteries last about 3-5 years. Check battery at least once a year (every 6 months is best) to check fluid. If the fluid is low use pitcher provided to refill with distilled water. You can call Standard Water Control for a pump system check and our service tech can do this for you and perform a load test on your battery.
Q: How often do I have to charge the battery?
A: The battery is hooked up to the computerized control box which monitors the battery and charges as needed.
Q: What do I need to do to maintain the system?
A: The only regular maintenance needed is for the battery. Every six months you need to check the water level in the battery and add distilled water, as needed, using the pitcher provided. Refer to your owners’ manual for other maintenance tips.
Q: It sounds like my backup pump is running but it’s not pumping out anything. What am I hearing?
A: What you may be hearing is the cooling fan in the computerized control box. It will come on frequently to keep the circuit boards cool.
Q: Why did my back up pump come on for no apparent reason.
A: Your backup control box will run the pump weekly for a short period of time to test for proper operation.
Q: Can I leave my discharge pipe extension on all year round?
A: We recommend removing the extension and leaving it off during the winter months and reattaching in the spring. If the extension is plugged or blocked with ice, the pump will not be able to get rid of accumulated water. Follow us on Twitter for seasonal reminders.
Q: Can I insulate around the discharge pipes on the inside of my basement wall?
A: You really shouldn’t. You want some heat to penetrate that section of the wall to prevent freezing.
Q: Can I bury my discharge pipe?
A: We do not recommend you doing this, due to the possibility of water freezing and cracking the pipe during the winter months. We do offer installation of buried discharge systems when applicable. Our FreeFlowSM discharge system has an option for heat cable to keep the pipe clear of ice. If you have this make sure the heat cable is plugged in for the winter. To find out more about it visit standardwater.com and check out our discharge section or give us a call.
Q: Can I pump the water into the sanitary sewer?
A: In most municipalities this is a code violation. We recommend calling your local official to ask.
Q: Can my discharge pipe be moved, extended or repaired if it gets broken?
A: Yes, there will be a service charge for us to do this or you may choose to repair it yourself. Call for details
Q: What can I use to lengthen or extend my discharge line?
A: Use 1½“or larger pvc pipe for maximum pumping capacity. Do not use the 1¼” or 1½“, corrugated flexible tubing found at Home Improvement Centers and Hardware Stores. It restricts the water too much and causes back pressure. This creates hardship for the pump and cuts into the pumping capacity.
Q: Why are there two pipes coming out of my house?
A: One is the primary pump discharge and the other one is for the optional emergency backup pump discharge.
Q: Why is water coming out of my back up pump discharge line when there is no reason for it to be running right now.
A: Your backup control box will run the pump weekly for a short period of time to test for proper operation.
Q: Why is my backup pump discharge pipe so short? Shouldn’t it have an extension?
A: Backup pump discharge pipes should be kept as short as possible for maximum pumping capability. If you did not purchase a backup pump this pipe should be capped and ready for possible future installation of a backup pump. Keep in mind it is only used as an emergency backup.
Q: Can I have you come out and check my pump and discharge system?
A: Yes. However there will be a service charge to do this. We recommend having your system checked every two years. Please call for prices and details.
Q: Why are cracks appearing in the new concrete and is it normal?
A: Yes, this is normal. Concrete shrinks as it dries and shrinkage cracks appear.
Q: Will water come up through the cracks?
A: No. Standard Water installs a plastic vapor barrier between the drain tile system and the new concrete, which keeps water from coming up through the new concrete.
Q: The seam between the old cement and the new looks damp. Is there water coming up through there?
A: No. The plastic over the gravel below the concrete ends at that area. When the temperature and humidity in the basement relative to the temperature of the floor in that area are right, the floor will discolor from condensation. (Cold water/soil below floor vs. warm/humid air in basement.) The plastic adds a degree of insulation hence the seam being the most affected area. More intense conditions may cause more darkening or even sweating. Reduce humidity with a dehumidifier and promote more air exchange. Seal the new concrete.
Q: Should I seal the new concrete?
A: Yes, we recommend it although not absolutely necessary. We recommend sealing the seam and the new concrete with a water based, interior use concrete sealer. Sealing the concrete helps prevent condensation, discoloration and dusting. Some sealers can be applied while concrete is curing. Refer to product manufacturer’s specifications. TK Tri-Seal, available from Brock White Construction Supplies is one of many good products. 1-800-880-3210.
Q: Can I nail into the new concrete?
A: It is preferred you do not. The new concrete is a richer mix for strength, making it more brittle. Using a construction type adhesive on carpet tack strips and framing base plates is recommended. If you do nail into the concrete to help hold the material in place as the adhesive sets, use caution and stop if the concrete starts to break up. When using nails, pre drilled holes and limit penetration to less than 3/4 inch.
Q: How do I remove excess concrete off the sump basin cover and Diamond Drainage Board?
A: Use a putty knife and steel wool or similar items after concrete is dry. This is just residual concrete which should come off easily. Use mild soapy water to remove the rest.
Q: How long does it take for the concrete to dry before I can move things back?
A: Typically 2 – 3 days is sufficient for moving things back. It may take approximately 30 – 45 days for the concrete to cure before all the dark looking areas disappear, depending on conditions. If you are installing any floor covering it’s best to wait until concrete is completely dry.
DIAMOND DRAINAGE BOARD
Q: Why is there a black strip where the floor and the wall meet and around my fireplace?
A: What you are seeing is the top of the vertical part of the Diamond Drainage Board™. It allows water that comes from the block and/or bottom of the brick to get below the floor and drain to the drain tile. It also isolates the new concrete over the drain tile from the damp block and/or brick.
Q: Can we cut that strip off flush with the floor?
A: You do not want to do that as it would open up the large gap that may allow water in and also allow dirt and dust to get into that part of your drain tile system.
Q: Can we seal it off?
A: Yes. It may be necessary if you have a radon mitigation installed or you’re finishing off your basement. If you are eventually going to install a vapor/moisture barrier you may want to seal it after you install the vapor/moisture barrier. A urethane caulk is recommended.
Q: I’m finishing my basement off and I’m going to use spray foam. Is there anything I should do first?
A: You must seal off the top part of the Diamond Drainage Board™ first so the spray foam will not be able to spread down into the drain tile system and clog it up.
Q: How do I work around that black strip when I remodel?
A: Framed energy walls are recommended constructed of 2” x 4” wood or metal studs. The plate and framed wall should be placed and sit just in front of the top part of the Diamond Drainage Board™. About a ½” from the foundation wall. If you’re using closed cell foam for insulation, you must seal off the top part of the Diamond Drainage Board™ first, as mentioned above. If you’re using batting, first install a vapor/moisture barrier on the foundation wall. 8 mil poly is commonly used. You can attach it to the top foundation wall with ¼” anchors. Tuck the vapor/moisture barrier between the top part of the Diamond Drainage Board™ and the foundation wall. You can then seal it with a bead of caulking at this point if you wish. We offer this service using our Diamond Brite Vapor GuardSM.