Show & Tell Mechanical Sump Pump

I’ve never seen a mechanical sump pump before. This appears to be a one of a kind unit most probably made by an inventive homeowner many years ago. The float contains a rubber ball that covers a hole in the sewer drain. Obviously this represents a handful of concerns that would be included in an inspection report. I found this during a “walk and talk” with one of my investor clients where no written report is provided.

Anyone else have something for show & tell?

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That ought to have worked good, Daniel.

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that is unique !

The “WTF” thread is generally for that.

Pretty interesting. I have several questions.

So why would you need to cover a hole up to drain unless it drains into the sanitary system and the plug stops sewer gases?

Is it draining ground water/rain water? Is that allowed to be combined with sanitary in your area?

Where is the pump?

It looks like there is no pump when the crawl space floods. The float lifts the ball off the hole, and the water drains to the top of the pipe, but it still leaves standing water in the crawl space.


Right, so why not just have a floor drain? Why the “float”? I suspect it is connected to sanitary drain to stop gases (no p-trap). In some areas, this connection to the sanitary may not be allowed. Of course, the whole set-up is antiquated.

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In some ways this setup is superior to a floor drain.

During dry periods, the floor drain P trap would dry out, letting
sewer gases (and rats) escape.

With this arrangement the rats will bump their heads on the rubber ball, and if the ball sealed property, the sewer would remain closed off during dry periods.

Note many areas prohibit all storm water from a sewer, and the only option would be a sump to the outside. The sump pit itself never drains fully, so there would be standing water longer than with a floor drain.

Kudos to the DIY’er who managed to punch a hole in cast iron pipe without cracking it…

I don’t see one in your photograph. What I see is a what you described as a sewer line with a hole in it. So where is the sump pump?

I hope you mentioned in your walk-through that tapped sewer lines are not approved.



I wish someone would invent something like this:

In my area, rats would destroy the rubber ball.

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No moving parts in a floor drain and yes a grate over the floor drain is required in every jurisdiction I’m aware of.


Perhaps you missed the deliberate sarcasm inherent in “rats bumping their heads”. The serious difference between this DIY solution and the current practice is in dry weather.

The DIY attempts to close the sewer hole mechanically.
A floor drain relies on a water seal.

The two approaches have different tradeoffs. Oh, and in my area the rats chew through the plastic grate if motivated enough. And come up through toilets.

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I stand corrected…a better word for this would be a sump drain. It was placed in a 3’ by 4’ hole in the basement slab floor that looks to have been created using a sledgehammer. The cast iron pipe is actually the waste line from the house where it exits the foundation. The rubber ball I assume is to prevent sewer gas from entering the house. There was a metal grate over the hole.

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It is not in a sump (when referring to plumbing components) that would be a purpose constructed pit. The best way to describe this is a cast-iron pipe that was exposed in the basement and it has a hole in the pipe.

It’s your call but if you call it a sump a buyer will be expecting something very different than a defective pipe in a broken concrete slab. Either way I would call this defect out for replacement.


Blah, Blah, Blah, It’s a poor man’s solution to a problem.

So what is the poor man’s solution when the sewer backs up? :rofl:

Then it would be time for a new leach field. :upside_down_face:

That’s not easy on a city sewer. The poop just keep coming and coming.

Well Scott I gotta disagree with you on this one. It is absolutely a sump (a pit or hollow in which liquid collects, especially one in the floor of a mine or basement)

And I would describe it to my clients the same way as I showed them during the inspection or inspection review.

This “gadget” is a product of days gone by when guys made stuff instead of going to the local hardware store. I really posted this for everyone’s amusement. Obviously it would have to be replaced with an approved sump pump and pit. The sewer line gets repaired or replaced.


a pit or hollow in which liquid collects, especially one in the floor of a mine or basement.