More sump pump repair questions
Q. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my parents' emails. I am the daughter with the sump pump no longer filling with water. I have a few questions based on your recent answer in this column.
• I saw a video from the camera going through the foundation drain leading to the sump. Although some (blocked) areas were kind of bad, how would that prevent water from flowing through if it was open enough to get a camera through?
• Wouldn't you still replace the cracked sump pump pit as water pooling or flowing under the home could cause more damage to the foundation?
• I was told by one company that they could use a 2-inch connection to rod the line that was small enough to not cause damage. Would you agree with that or would you opt for the option of hydro jetting? Again, thank you for your time.
A. To your first question, water should be able to filter through even if the root mass were thicker than what you see. There is another reason for why you no longer see water filling the sump, and that needs to be determined if it is a problem. Is it possible there is a lot less water because of the dry weather experienced in many parts of the country? Neither you nor your parents have mentioned where you are located.
Second question: Has there been damage to the foundation? If so, what kind? If there is at least a 4-inch thick stone bed under the concrete slab, any water getting through the foundation that would go into the sump can spread throughout the stone bed and seep harmlessly into the soil below.
As long as water isn't leaking into the basement, it would indicate that there isn't a problem with serious hydrostatic pressure.
Depending on how badly cracked the sump crock (pit) is, it may be able to be sealed with an epoxy waterproof putty, such as Waterplug; there are many other brands.
Third question: Hydro jetting is usually more effective at removing tree roots than trying to ream them out with a snake-type apparatus, but the operator needs to use a camera to make sure the pipe is not damaged. Hydro jetting would aggravate the damage.
You may want to investigate both claims; it may be that the contractor offering to clear the roots with the company's 2-inch connection is the only option if the pipe is damaged.
Q. You are my last hope for a clear answer which has stumped many HVAC techs and others.
I live on the first floor of a two-story condominium. All was quiet until my upstairs neighbor had a new air conditioner installed. The A/C unit is located on the ground just outside the wall of our guest bedroom. The two pipes from the A/C unit go into our wall at ground level and go up though the wall to his upstairs condo. The outside wall is brick if that matters.
When his A/C is on, there is a vibration in the wall which sounds like a loud humming sound which is very disturbing. The upstairs unit is quiet, only my downstairs unit is noisy. When I place my hand on the wall I can feel the vibration. We had the wall opened up from floor to ceiling between the studs. The pipes seem to be free standing and are not attached to the studs.
My neighbor's installer replaced the compressor and installed rubber feet under the unit, which sits on a concrete slab. He checked and leveled the unit. Then someone else suggested that the compressor already sits on cork or rubber feet, suggesting removal of the feet from the A/C unit itself as both sets of feet are working against each other. That did not help.
I notice when I place my hand on the wall, the vibration is the width of two studs, and the 16 inches to the right of it. But, after that section, there is no more vibration. Is there a product, insulation or wall board we can buy that would soundproof this vibration? I would really like to avoid taking the entire wall down.
A. I am not clear about a few things. All was well until your neighbor's A/C condenser was replaced. The pipes to his unit were installed in your wall. You don't say, but I have to assume, that it is an exterior wall because you point out that the wall is brick -- most likely brick veneer. That famous wall must be insulated.
Did you remove the wall insulation to check on the pipes? What kind of insulation was it? The pipe carrying the refrigerant must be wrapped with a neoprene insulating sleeve.
Did anyone feel the pipes while the wall was open when the A/C unit was operating? What was found?
Did any HVAC contractor you consulted mention the possibility of vibration of the pipes or increased friction noise from a faster flowing refrigerant with the new condensing unit? And if this is the case, would they recommend reducing the pressure by adjusting the controls?
Not knowing the answers to these questions, the best that comes to mind is to wrap more neoprene insulation on the refrigerant pipe and put some on the non-insulated return pipe. Follow this by refilling the wall cavity with a Rockwool batt, which is denser than fiberglass and more sound absorbing while also providing good thermal insulation.
More on shower scum removal from readers
• "Shower door soap scum: Try Mr. Clean Eraser or a dampened fabric softener sheet."
• "In response to the writer looking to clean soap scum off shower doors: Nothing works as well as dryer sheets. I use them while in the shower because they need a thorough rinsing. Works amazingly well!"
• Here is a product I use for shower door scum. Spray Nine: I use this product also to clean my cooking range fan, auto tires, counter tops and any other greasy surfaces. I also use this product to remove any gum from my wood shop saw blades."
A. More endorsements on dryer sheets! Interesting also is the fact that dryer sheets, such as Bounce, have been recommended to keep mice out of the air filter in cars, which they love to inhabit and completely fill with their droppings. Both my wife's and my car have suffered such injury and our garages have recommend Bounce in the glove compartment and under the seats.
I have also been told that these sheets are helpful in keeping mice at bay in RVs and seasonal camps and that the postal service has recommended that carriers delivering mail to houses keep some of these sheets in their pockets to ward off yellow jackets (this one, I have no way to know if it is really accurate, but there it is as another possible endorsement).
• Henri de Marne, a former remodeling contractor turned columnist and consultant, is the author of "About the House with Henri de Marne" (Upper Access Publishing). He continues to take questions from readers for this column and his website, www.henridemarne.com. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.