Q: My basement’s sump pump is so noisy that I have to move into the guest room to sleep during periods of heavy rain.
The pump has a vertical pipe connecting it to the main outtake pipe leading to the sewer. There is a brass check valve in the connector. When it starts up, I hear hmmmm, then HMMMMMMM, and then a bang (when the valve shuts down).
The noise is audible throughout the house but is worse on the side where my master bedroom is because the pipe runs through its wall on the way to the bathroom. I tried to find some insulation material but had no luck. What could I wrap around the valve and pipes to deaden the sound?
A: We find it curious that a relatively new pump is that noisy. Perhaps it’s defective or maybe it’s got some sediment in the impeller.
That the noise might come from the check valve in the connection to the sewer pipe is more understandable. This valve is necessary to prevent wastewater from your toilets and sinks from backflowing from the sewer system into the basement. When the valve closes, it creates a vibration in the pipe; that is the noise you hear. Still, we are surprised that it’s that loud.
The first thing we’d suggest is that you contact the pump’s manufacturer and ask if what you’re experiencing is normal for the product. If it’s not, ask about any warranty protections you might have and request that the company either replace the pump or send a representative to check it out and provide a solution.
If you get stonewalled, a call to the local Better Business Bureau will probably help you get some action.
To address the noisy check valve, consider rerouting the discharge pipe directly to the outside of the house rather than discharging the water into the sewer system. This should alleviate the need for a check valve.
If all this fails and the pump is operating as it should, here’s what we’d suggest to dampen the sound coming from the pump and the pipes. One of our suggestions uses standard material, and one smacks of Rube Goldberg.
To dampen the sound in the pipes, we suggest you wrap them with foam rubber insulation. In colder climates, foam rubber insulation is used to protect water pipes from freezing. We know you don’t have to worry about a freeze in many areas of the country, but the insulation does double duty as a sound suppressor.
The insulation comes in the shape and size of various pipes (1/2-inch, 3/4-inch, etc.) and is split for easy installation. A little duct tape to secure it and you’re good to go.
In areas of the country where freezing is possible, this insulation is readily available in home centers, hardware stores and plumbing supply houses. In areas where a freeze is unlikely, it may be a special-order item, although we have seen it tucked in out-of-the-way corners of hardware stores.
Another alternative is the fiberglass insulation used to insulate heater ducts. Again, wrap the pipe with the insulation and secure it with some duct tape. Pay special attention to the check valve and the waste pipe.
In terms of the pump itself here’s a suggestion of which we think Mr. Goldberg would be proud.
In order for the pump to work properly, water must freely drain into the sump. To accomplish this and get some sound dampening we’d suggest you build a wire cage around the pump covering the top and sides and wrap the cage with fiberglass or foam rubber insulation. Make sure to leave sufficient room at the bottom to allow the water to enter the sump. Also allow a 6-inch air gap between the cage and the pump so that the pump does not overheat. This should dampen the sound of the pump and the pipes enough so that you can get a good night’s sleep. Pleasant dreams!
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