Dry pit

Today I made the mistake of tripping the float mechanism before taking the cover off. The pedestal was rusted at the bottom and spun around catching my hand. It hurt pretty bad but fortunately the float arm caught the side of the pedestal and stopped it from spinning further.

When I removed the cover I noticed the pit was bone dry. There were no drain tiles at the walls to allow water to enter unless they were buried under the sand. Have any of you seen this and what are your thoughts?

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Yes have seen many dry pits water table will vary with rain fall amounts many do not have specific opening water just enters the pit from the soil. I quite often have to deal with under ground springs in my area they can be any where.

Here is what I found in the sump pit at my last inspection!


Looks like the pump is sitting in a mud bed. Also by the mud stains on the sump walls and discharge pipe there has been water before.

An empty paint bucket ,perforated ,will take care of it.

Is there any SOP that says you have to operate sump pumps? I normally do not.

Joe, the SOP reads that the inspector is NOT required to:

C. Operate sump pumps with inaccessible floats.

The way I read it, if the float is accessible, you should operate it. Just my interpritation of it.

Same here. If the pit is accessible and the pump rod does not extend to the top, I trip the float with my inspection mirror.

Beware of sticking your hand down into a pit particularly on new construction. Anyone who’s been in the building trades knows what those pits are use for by the crew.:-&

Not only that, but did you see my pic? Lots of nasty critters can be in the sump pit! That pic was from the basement of an upper end home that had sat vacant for about a year.

How do you “inspect” a sump pump? OK, you test the float. Do you follow the drain line to ensure it discharges to the exterior and does not leak? If the line is long, and the pump turns off, how do you know the water that is in the drain line won’t flow back into the pit and reactivate it? If the pit is dry, do you assume the drain line functions or do you put water in the pit and test the function of the pump? Because you hear the pump running, does that mean it functions? Do you ensure that the water flows toward and into the sump? What if it’s not plugged in? Do you plug it in? Too many variables!

The NC SOP states: “7.1 The home inspector shall observe:…sump pumps”. Note the word test is not there. It goes on to state in the plumbing section: “7.3 The home inspector is NOT required to: operate automatic safety controls.”

I’m not sticking my hand down in a pit. Sorry. I tell them, “The basement/crawl space could be subject to moisture intrusion, but is equipped with a float activated sump pump. Common sense dictates that moisture should be handled before it even enters a residence, but many residences do have sump pumps. Nevertheless, the area and the sump-pump should be periodically monitored, and particularly before each rainy season, and storage items should be isolated from the floor and walls.”

Do you check receptacles to ensure they are properly wired? If so do you also inspect the conductors behind the walls to ensure there are no issues? Components throughout are supposed to work together but not everything is visible for inspection.

In my opinion that does not mean we should not inspect part of that component just because we can’t inspect every aspect of it. That’s why a home inspection is a limited examination.