If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan but never the goal.”



-Try to stick to the budget and avoid overages whenever possible; however, spend the extra money on major items when necessary. These items would include anything structural or dealing with drainage for which you didn’t originally plan.

Our story…

With the basement walls finally poured, Michelle and I were feeling pleased with the progress and were ready to continue the momentum into the next steps. One of the biggest issues we have had to deal with since breaking ground was the excessive water in the area. Again, we knew there was a high water table in the area, but didn’t realize how significant it would be. Keith and I had been constantly fighting the water issue with the pump in a barrel off the back corner of the basement. The pump was continually getting clogged with pea gravel and dirt/silt. It was time for the sump pits to be set so that the water/clogging pump would be less of an issue going forward.

Originally, the plan was to have two sump pits. One sump pit would be in the basement and pump out any water from the drainage tile underneath the slab. The second pit would be on the exterior that would pump out all water from the drainage tile around the perimeter of the basement footers. The plan changed when we dug the basement and discovered the extent of the water in the area. At that point, Keith and Pete (the excavator) discussed that it would be better to have a larger exterior reservoir tank with two pumps to address all water from drainage tile and eliminate the interior sump pit all together. At first I was comfortable with this, but ultimately Michelle and I decided that we also wanted to have a sump pit inside the basement for emergency purposes, if something got clogged, or failed with the outside reservoir tank.

With the decision made, Keith began the process of ordering the reservoir tank, pumps, etc. The concrete tank would be 4′ in diameter and be 13′ feet deep. The reason for the depth was so that if the top of the tank would set a foot below the top of the basement walls (which are 9′ tall), the bottom of the tank would be 5′ below the basement floor. This will allow us to control the water level and keep it well-below the interior and exterior drainage tile. There will be a submersible pump in the bottom of the tank that will pump the water up and out. The pump will be equipped with an alarm that will sound inside the house if the pump ever fails.

You might be asking, “Isn’t this overkill?” or “Couldn’t the same thing be done with a regular-size sump pit on the exterior?” In theory, the answer to both questions is YES. However, this is one area where we felt it was best to plan for the worst. With the amount of water flowing into the current barrel, which would be the similar diameter to a normal sump pit, the pump was kicking on every 7-9 minutes. These smaller pumps are rated to cycle/pump no more than every 10 minutes or 6 times an hour. Our concern was that we would be burning out pumps frequently due to the excessive, continued use.

After several calls, Keith shared with us that the pump was going to cost us an additional few thousand dollars compared to our original plans. This wasn’t something we weren’t thrilled with, but we wanted to take the added precaution when it came to addressing the excessive water. We gave Keith the “green light” to order to reservoir/pump and schedule with the Pete. The reservoir had to be built in Terre Haute and was set to be delivered on Wednesday afternoon.

I finished up some appointments and headed out to the house around 1 on Wednesday. Prior to my arrival, Pete had dug a trench to the drainage ditch at the back of the lot. He had buried two lines of 4” pipe. One line was going to be for the reservoir pump drain. The other line would be used later when we tied all of the gutters/downspouts in to get all of the roof water away from the house.

Two 4″ drain lines buried to discharge at the back of the property.

Next, Pete dug the 13′ deep hole on the back corner of the basement where our previous water pump was located. Once the hole was dug, he had to dump approximately 8” of pea gravel in the bottom of the hole to provide a base for the reservoir tank.

13′ deep hole for reservoir tank with pea gravel base.

No sooner than he finished with the hole, the truck arrived with the tank. There were four pieces on the truck. My initial thought was that my tank was on the truck along with another tank for a different job site. I didn’t think there was any way that it would be that massive.

Four sections of reservoir tank arriving on site.

Sure enough though, the delivery driver started unloading the tank one piece at a time. Pete had to come and lift each individual piece with this excavator. His smaller excavator never would have been able to lift the heavy pieces. Pete took the first piece back to the hole. Another worker, Greg, was down in the hole to help guide its placement and unhook the chains. Pete continued to pick up and place the remaining three pieces. There is a metal ladder built-in to each piece so they had to be lined up when each piece was stacked on top of the others. By the end of the day, all of the pieces were stacked and the old pump was placed into the bottom to run over night.

First section of tank being moved.

Greg helping position the first section of tank in the hole. The grade of the basement is where the shovel is located.

Section 2….
Section 3….

Keith and Pete worked on Thursday morning to finish hooking up the permanent pump, drain line, and electric. Once finished, about 3/4” of water was continually running into the reservoir. At this rate, about three feet of water would enter the reservoir within an hour. The pump kicked on once a hour to maintain the desired water level. Another nice thing about this pump being in the reservoir tank outside is that we will never hear it kick on while in the basement.

Top section of tank with manhole lid. The top of the tank will be the finished grade of the yard in this area.
The view looking into the tank. The ladder can be seen on the bottom of this picture. The drainage line entering the tank from the basement tile can be seen just below the dark water line.

The next steps of the building process will be to have the exterior walls of the basement water-proofed/insulated, plumbing rough-ins installed and inspected in the basement, and the basement slab poured. Hopefully, the weather will cooperate!