Title:
Sump overflow protection system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
Methods and apparatus are provided for mechanically preventing overflow of a sump pit into a basement. A cap with a removable cover is placed over a sump pump with a watertight seal. A tall pipe is connected to the cover of the cap, and several auxiliary devices (e.g. egress pipe, faucet, accessory tree, sight tube, and/or alarm apparatus) can be attached to the side of the cap. The volume under the cap and in the pipe may fill with water to provide pressure to prevent further water from entering the sump pit. Water can then be drained the cover removed and the sump pump repaired. In this way, basement flooding through sump pit overflow is inhibited or prevented.



Inventors:
Allen, Ronald K. (Fortville, IN, US)
Application Number:
10/640186
Publication Date:
02/17/2005
Filing Date:
08/13/2003
Assignee:
ALLEN RONALD K.
Primary Class:
International Classes:
E03F5/22; (IPC1-7): E04B7/18
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
EDELL, JOSEPH F
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Woodard, Emhardt, Moriarty, McNett & Henry LLP (Indianapolis, IN, US)
Claims:
1. An apparatus comprising: a cap for a sump pit in a floor, said cap and said sump pit defining a watertight volume, said cap having a side wall and a top portion, said side wall having a plurality of openings; and a pipe connected to said cap and extending upward from said top portion, said pipe having an open lower end at or below said top portion of said cap, and an open upper end.

2. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said cap comprises a shell portion including said side wall and an upper hole and a cover for said upper hole, said shell portion being attached to said floor.

3. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising an accessory connection connected to one of said openings, said accessory connection adapted for attachment of one or more conduits to allow water to flow from said one or more conduits through said accessory connection and into said volume.

4. The apparatus of claim 3, wherein said accessory connection has a tubular portion and a float valve associated with said tubular portion to prevent water from flowing from said volume through said tubular portion.

5. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising a sight tube having two open ends, a first open end being connected to a first of said openings, and a second open end being connected to a second of said openings, at least a portion of said sight tube being transparent.

6. The apparatus of claim 5, further comprising a float within said sight tube.

7. The apparatus of claim 2, further comprising a conduit connected to one of said openings and having an end within said volume, a float switch connected to said end of said conduit, and one or more wires connected to said float switch and extending through said conduit.

8. The apparatus of claim 7, further comprising an alarm connected to said wires, said alarm comprising at least one component from the group consisting of a buzzer, a bell, a light, a telephone dialer, and a transmitter.

9. The apparatus of claim 7 further comprising means for alerting a person when said float switch is closed.

10. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein said pipe extends at least 6 feet above said cap.

11. The apparatus of claim 1, wherein at least one of said openings includes a bulkhead fitting.

12. The apparatus of claim 1, further comprising a conduit through one of said openings in said side wall for conducting water out of said sump pit.

13. A method, comprising: creating an enclosure over a sump pit in a floor, said enclosure defining a volume and being open at the top and otherwise watertight, whereby water rising in said sump pit will enter said enclosure instead of flowing out of said sump pit.

14. The method of claim 13, further comprising connecting a drain having a normally closed condition and an open condition in fluid communication to said enclosure, whereby said drain can be opened to allow water to flow out of said enclosure.

15. The method of claim 14, further comprising connecting one or more devices from the group consisting of a sight tube and an accessory tube to said enclosure.

16. The method of claim 14, further comprising: placing a float switch in said sump pit; extending at least one wire from said float switch to a point external of said enclosure; and connecting said at least one wire to an alarm.

17. The method of claim 16, wherein said connecting step includes connecting one of said at least one wire to an apparatus from the group consisting of a telephone dialer and a transmitter.

18. The method of claim 13, wherein said creating step includes anchoring a cap around said sump pit and connecting an upwardly extending pipe to said cap.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said cap includes a shell portion and a cover portion, said anchoring step includes anchoring said shell portion around said sump pit, and said attaching step includes connecting said pipe to said cover.

20. The method of claim 13, further comprising: opening said enclosure; draining water from at least one of said enclosure and said sump pit; and performing maintenance on apparatus within said sump pit.

21. An apparatus for containing a sump pit in a floor, said sump pit having a sump pump therein for removing water, comprising: a cap over the sump pit and forming a watertight seal with the floor so that said cap and said sump pit define an internal volume, said cap having a side wall portion and a removable cover, said side wall portion having an egress aperture, a drain aperture, an accessory aperture, a pair of sight tube apertures and an alarm aperture, and said cover having a hole; a conduit extending from said sump pump through said egress aperture for conducting water away from said sump pit, said conduit having a watertight seal with said cap; a drain apparatus extending through said drain aperture and including a drain tube at least partially within said cap and a faucet at least partially outside said cap, said drain apparatus having a watertight seal with said cap; an accessory tube extending through said accessory aperture and having a float valve to prevent flow from said sump pit through said accessory tube, said accessory tube having a watertight seal with said cap; a sight tube external to said cap having at least a portion that is transparent, said sight tube having watertight seals with said cap at said sight tube apertures; an alarm conduit having a watertight seal with said cap at said alarm aperture, said alarm conduit being adapted to conduct at least one wire from a float switch in said sump pit to a point outside said cap; and a pipe connected to said cover at said hole and extending upward, said pipe having a watertight seal with said cover at said hole, said pipe defining an internal volume that is in fluid communication with said internal volume of said cap and said sump pit.

Description:

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention generally concerns protection from overflow of sump pits in the basement of a building. In particular, the present invention concerns methods and apparatus for providing containment of water in a sump pit when a sump pump installed therein is non-operational.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

In buildings having underground levels or basements, it is common to place a sump pit in the floor of such basement or underground level to collect water that flows down and/or around the foundation of the building. For example, in stand-alone residential housing, a basement is provided through digging a hole, preparing the base of the hole by placing drainage channels (for example, plastic tubes with holes in the sides to let water in) that lead toward one part of the hole. A second, smaller hole is provided as a sump pit, and the drainage channels empty into the sump pit. The house's foundation, which also functions as the sidewalls of the basement, and the basement floor may then be poured into the hole, taking adequate precaution to maintain the channels and the sump pit open and relatively free of concrete. The house is then built atop the foundation.

When water seeps along the outside of the foundation walls, as when rain falls or when the water table in the locality is relatively high, such water flows along the foundation and accumulates in the channels and runs into the sump pit. A pump is generally provided in the sump pit to remove water from the pit, sending it through a pipe or conduit and out of the house, preferably approximately at ground level. Most such pumps are electrical, and operate by means of a float switch, i.e. a switch connected to a body that floats atop the level of the water in the sump pit. When the water in the sump pit reaches a certain depth, the switch on the sump pump closes, completing an electrical circuit and activating the pump. The pump operates to force water to a height of as much as 8 to 10 feet or more over the sump pit and out to the ground level. A ball or other appropriate valve is generally provided at the exhaust of the pump, i.e., that opening in the pump through which water is propelled into the conduit, or may additionally or alternatively be provided in the conduit or pipe itself. In this way, water is prevented from flowing back into the sump pit through the conduit or pipe and/or the sump pump.

It is also well known that sump pumps can malfunction due to wear, defect, or other problem, or may not function due to lack of electrical power. When a sump pump malfunctions or is otherwise non-operable, water can accumulate in the sump pit without being removed by the pump, which may result in an overflow of the sump pit. For example, during a long or severe storm in which significant ice, rain, or other precipitation falls, electrical service to residential or other buildings may be interrupted. In such a case, when the sump pump is inoperable and substantial amounts of rain, snowmelt or other water are adjacent the foundation, the water level in the sump pit rises and may overflow. Of course, a sump pit overflow means an accumulation of water on a basement floor, which may result in damage to walls, carpet, furniture, personal belonging, or other items that may be stored or placed in a basement.

Currently, proposed solutions to the problem of a malfunctioning or non-operative sump pump rely on a backup sump pump. Specifically, a secondary or backup sump pump may be provided within or connected to the sump pit and connected to a pipe that leads out of the house. If the first sump pump malfunctions, the backup pump can operate on an emergency basis or as otherwise necessary to remove water from the sump pit. This solution is not effective in cases where electrical service is disrupted, since the backup pump will also be without power and unable to operate and prevent overflow. It has been suggested that such a backup sump pump may be battery-operated, rather than connected to the building's electrical service. While such a battery-operated pump will operate when electrical service is interrupted, generally the battery for such a pump is capable of operating the pump for only 6 to 12 hours or less. If an electrical outage lasts longer than that, then the backup will cease operation. Furthermore, such batteries are generally relatively expensive as well as being heavy and/or bulky, and like all batteries have a limited shelf-life. Thus, while battery-operated backup sump pumps provide a solution to electrical outages, that solution is temporally limited, and presents additional problems and disadvantages.

Accordingly, there remains a need for a system that limits or prevents sump pit overflow without reliance on a backup sump pump.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In one embodiment, an apparatus includes a cap for a sump pit in a floor, with the cap and the sump pit defining a watertight volume, and the cap having a side wall with a plurality of openings and a top portion. The apparatus further includes a pipe connected to the cap and extending upward from its top portion, with the pipe having an open lower end at or below the top portion of the cap and an open upper end. The cap may have a shell portion for attachment to the floor that includes the side wall and an upper hole and a cover for the upper hole. One or more connections, such as an accessory connection for attachment of conduits to allow water to flow through the accessory connection, a sight tube having two open ends and a transparent portion, a conduit with a float switch and one or more wires extending through the conduit and connecting to an alarm, and/or a pipe for conducting water out of the sump pit, may be connected to openings in the cap. The pipe may extend at least 6 to 8 feet or more above the cap.

In another embodiment, a method includes creating an enclosure over a sump pit in a floor, such that the enclosure defines a volume and is open at the top and otherwise watertight. That can be accomplished by anchoring a cap around the sump pit and connecting an upwardly extending pipe to the cap. The cap can include a shell portion and a cover portion, and the anchoring step can includes anchoring the shell portion around the sump pit, and the attaching step can include connecting the pipe to the cover. The method may further comprise connecting a drain having a normally closed condition and an open condition in fluid communication to the enclosure, whereby said drain can be opened to allow water to flow out of said enclosure. One or more devices from the group consisting of a sight tube and an accessory tube can also be connected to said enclosure. Further steps could include placing a float switch in the sump pit, extending at least one wire from the float switch to a point external of the enclosure, and connecting the at least one wire to an alarm. Also, the enclosure can be opened, water from at least one of the enclosure and the sump pit can be drained, and maintenance on apparatus within the sump pit can be performed.

A further embodiment may be an apparatus for containing a sump pit in a floor and having a sump pump therein for removing water, including a cap over the sump pit and forming a watertight seal with the floor so that the cap and the sump pit define an internal volume, the cap having a side wall portion and a removable cover, the side wall portion having an egress aperture, a drain aperture, an accessory aperture, a pair of sight tube apertures and an alarm aperture, and the cover having a hole. A conduit having a watertight seal with the cap extends from the sump pump through the egress aperture for conducting water away from the sump pit. A drain apparatus having a watertight seal with the cap extends through the drain aperture and include a drain tube at least partially within the cap and a faucet at least partially outside the cap. An accessory tube having a watertight seal with the cap extends through the accessory aperture and have a float valve to prevent flow from the sump pit through the accessory tube. A sight tube having watertight seals with the cap and at least a portion that is transparent is external to the cap. An alarm conduit having a watertight seal with the cap and adapted to conduct at least one wire from a float switch in the sump pit to a point outside the cap is connected to the cap. A pipe having a watertight seal with the cover at its hole and defining an internal volume in fluid communication with the internal volume of the cap and sump pit is connected to the cover at the hole and extends upward.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a side view of an apparatus according to one embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 1A is a side view of the embodiment shown in FIG. 1, rotated 90 degrees.

FIG. 2 is a top view of the embodiment shown in FIGS. 1 FIG. 3 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 3-3 in FIG. 2, and viewed in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 3A is a partial cross-sectional view as shown in FIG. 3, with the addition of exemplary apparatus.

FIG. 4 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 4-1 in FIG. 3, and viewed in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 4A is a partial cross-sectional view as shown in FIG. 4, with the addition of exemplary apparatus.

FIG. 5 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 5-5 in FIG. 4, and viewed in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 5A is a partial cross-sectional view as shown in FIG. 5, with the addition of exemplary apparatus.

FIG. 6 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 6-6 in FIG. 5, and viewed in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 6A is a partial cross-sectional view as shown in FIG. 6, with the addition of exemplary apparatus.

FIG. 7 is a cross-sectional view taken along the lines 7-7 in FIG. 6, and viewed in the direction of the arrows.

FIG. 7A is a partial cross-sectional view as shown in FIG. 7, with the addition of exemplary apparatus.

DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

For the purposes of promoting an understanding of the principles of the invention, reference will now be made to the embodiment illustrated in the drawings and specific language will be used to describe the same. It will nevertheless be understood that no limitation of the scope of the invention is thereby intended, such alterations and further modifications in the illustrated device, and such further applications of the principles of the invention as illustrated therein, being contemplated as would normally occur to one skilled in the art to which the invention relates.

Referring now to FIGS. 1, 1A and 2, there is shown a sump pump system 20 incorporating features of one embodiment of the present invention. A sump pit 22 is shown formed in a floor 24. A sump pump 26 is shown schematically within sump pit 22, and a conduit or pipe 28 is shown extending upwardly from sump pump 26. As noted below and indicated in FIGS. 2-3A, conduit 28 extends out of sump pit 22. Conduit 28 is shown truncated in FIG. 1, but one of ordinary skill in the art will understand that conduit 28 leads to a location outside of the house in which system 20 is installed, at or around the ground level. Channels 29 connect to sump pit 22 below the level of the surface of floor 24, and conduct water into sump pit 22 from the outside of the house in which system 20 is installed. It is well known in this field to include a lining of plastic or other sturdy material within sump pit 22 and in fluid communication with channels 29 to hold the water. If such a lining is used, it generally extends from the bottom of sump pit 22 approximately to the level of floor 24, and if necessary a seal (as by caulk or other appropriate sealing method) is placed between the top of such lining and the floor 24.

Atop sump pit 22, there is placed a cap 30, which in one embodiment includes a shell 31 and a cover 32 (described further below), and a standing pipe 33 connected to cap 30. Cap 30 is attached to floor 24 to form a watertight seal between cap 30 and floor 24. In the illustrated embodiment, cap 30 is attached to floor 24 via bolts 34. It will be understood that other fasteners suitable for attaching an item to concrete can be additionally or alternatively be used. A seal between cap 30 and floor 24 can be attained by tight affixation of cap 30 to floor 24 via bolts 34 or other fasteners, but in a preferred embodiment caulk or another appropriate sealing agent is placed between cap 30 and floor 24 or around the interface between cap 30 and floor 24. Alternatively, a washer, gasket, or similar device (not shown) made of rubber, plastic or other appropriate sealing material may be placed between cap 30 and floor 24. Pipe 33 attaches to a top part of cap 30 (e.g., cover 32). Cap 30 defines a volume that is in fluid communication with the volume of sump pit 22, and pipe 33 defines a volume that is in fluid communication with the interior volume of cap 30 and sump pit 22.

In one specific embodiment, shell 31 of cap 30 includes a base portion 40, a side wall portion 42, and a top flange 44. Cover 32 sits atop flange 44, and in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 1, a gasket 48 is placed between cover 32 and flange 44. Gasket 48 is not shown in FIG. 2 for the sake of clarity.

Base 40 preferably includes a plurality of holes 50 for enabling attachment of shell 31 to floor 24. Bolts 34 or other fasteners, as noted above, may be placed through holes 50 and into floor 24 in order to secure shell 31 of cap 30 to floor 24.

Sidewall 42 includes a plurality of apertures for connecting devices to cap 30, as further described below. Referring generally to FIGS. 1A-3A, a pump egress aperture 52 is provided in sidewall 42 to allow conduit 28 to exit from the sump pit 22 through sidewall 42 of cap 30. That is, conduit 28 extends from sump pump 26, through egress aperture 52, and then to the exterior of the house for discharging water pumped out from sump pit 22. In one embodiment, a bulkhead fitting (such as that shown in FIG. 4A) is placed in or around egress aperture 52, to provide sufficient sealing and easy connectibility between the inside and outside of cap 30 around egress aperture 52. It will be appreciated that the size of a bulkhead fitting will depend on the size of the aperture in which it is to be fitted. Separate parts of conduit 28 can then be attached to an inside portion of such a bulkhead fitting and an outside portion of such a bulkhead fitting. Alternatively, conduit 28 can extend through egress aperture 52, with appropriate seals, gaskets, or other devices provided between conduit 28 and egress aperture 52 to insure a seal between them. Any other types of fittings, connections, seals, or other devices may be used, so long as conduit 28 extends through cap 30 so that water can be pumped out of sump pit 22, and a water tight seal is provided for egress aperture 52.

A drain aperture 54 (FIGS. 2 and 4-4A) is also provided in the illustrated embodiment of cap 30. Drain aperture 54 is intended to allow a drain pipe 56 to exit the volume within cap 30 and sump pit 22. Drain pipe 56 preferably connects to a faucet 58 or other valved drain fitting. A bulkhead fitting 59 may be used in or in connection with drain aperture 54 to provide a seal and easy connection between the inside and outside of cap 30, as is known in the art. If such a bulkhead fitting is used, pipe 56 may be connected to such a fitting on the inside of cap 30, and faucet 58 may be connected to such a fitting on the outside of cap 30. If a bulkhead fitting is not used, either pipe 56 or faucet 58 may extend through drain aperture 54 in order to connect with the other, and as indicated above with respect to egress aperture 52 an appropriate sealing agent or gasket is preferably provided in that case to insure a watertight seal between the interior and exterior of cap 30. Pipe 56 and faucet 58 are used to drain at least a portion of the volume inside cap 30 and/or sump pit 22. Accordingly, pipe 56 may be of any desired length, and in one specific embodiment has a length such that it ends approximately 4 inches from the bottom of sump pit 22.

An accessory aperture 60 (FIGS. 2 and 5-5A) is also provided in the illustrated embodiment of cap 30. Accessory aperture 60 is provided to allow drainage from sources other than channels 29 into sump pit 22. In one embodiment, shown in FIG. 5A, a branched accessory tree 62 connects to an accessory pipe 64 via accessory aperture 60. Accessory tree 62 includes a plurality of branches 66 that are connectable either directly or via a hose, pipe or other conduit to appliances or other devices or items that may require drainage. For example, a water heater drain may be connected to one branch 66, a conduit for condensation from an air conditioner may be connected to another branch 66, a humidifier drain may be connected to a third branch 66, and so on.

Accessory pipe 64 extends into sump pit 22, and in one specific embodiment it extends to a level approximately one foot from the bottom from sump pit 22. Accessory pipe 64 preferably includes a float valve (not shown) at or near the lower end of accessory pipe 64. The float valve is a known mechanical device that will close accessory pipe 64 when the water level rises beyond a given height within sump pit 22 and/or cap 30. In this way, back flow into accessory tree 62 via accessory pipe 64 is prevented when water rises in sump pit 22. As noted before with respect to apertures 52 and 54, a bulkhead fitting (e.g. fitting 59 in FIG. 4A) may be placed in or around accessory aperture 60 for a sealing connection of accessory tree 62 and accessory pipe 64. Also as described above, pipe 64 and accessory tree 62 may alternatively be connected to each other and a sealing agent may be used to provide a watertight seal between the interior and

Referring generally to FIGS. 2 and 6-6A, the illustrated embodiment of cap 30 further includes a pair of sight tube apertures 66 and 68. A sight tube 70 is connected to cap 30 in fluid communication with sight tube apertures 66 and 68. In one specific embodiment, sight tube 70 is a substantially U-shaped tube, at least a portion of which is transparent. As shown in the embodiment illustrated in FIG. 6a, a float 72 is provided within sight tube 70 so as to render the water level, if any, within sight tube 70 easily visible. The entirety of sight tube 70 may be transparent. As with apertures 52, 54 and 60 described above, sight tube apertures 66 and 68 may include bulkhead fittings (e.g. fitting 59 in FIG. 4A) within or around each of apertures 66 and 68. Alternatively, sight tube 70 may fit into apertures 66 and 68 directly, and alternative sealing devices or agents may be provided for a watertight seal around sight tube 70.

The illustrated embodiment of cap 30 further includes an alarm aperture 74, shown generally in FIGS. 2 and 7-7A. A conduit 76 is connected to cap 30 with a watertight seal, and extends within the interior of cap 30 and sump pit 22. As with apertures 52, 54, 60, 66 and 68, a bulkhead fitting (e.g. fitting 59 in FIG. 4A) may place in or around alarm aperture 74 to provide a seal between the interior and exterior of cap 30. Alternatively, other seals or sealing agents may be used to provide a watertight connection between cap 30 and conduit 76. A float switch 78 is schematically shown in FIG. 7a attached to the end of conduit 76 within sump pit 22. A float switch is a known device, and is briefly described above in the context of its use with a sump pump. Float switch 78 is a part of an electrical circuit including one or more wires 80. The circuit including wire(s) 80 and float switch 78 connects to an alarm system for notifying the homeowner or other individual of a problem with the operation of sump pump 26.

For example, as shown schematically in FIG. 7A, wire(s) 80 may be connected to an alarm box 82. Alarm box 82 has within or connected to it an indicator, such as a bell, buzzer, light, or other device to indicate that the circuit has been completed. Additionally or alternatively, alarm box 82 can send signals to other devices, such as a telephone dialer 84 or transmitter 86. For example, upon completion of the circuit, i.e. when the water level in sump pit 22 rises high enough to close float switch 78, alarm box 82 may send a signal to telephone dialer 84, which in turn causes telephone dialer 84 to dial one or more pre-programmed telephone numbers and transmit a voice message (for telephone) or text message (for pagers). As another example, upon completion of the circuit, alarm box 82 could send a signal to transmitter 86, which could send via telephone line, coaxial cable or other dedicated land line, or by electromagnetic waves a message or other signal to an alarm company, a plumber, or other person or service. Devices such as telephone dialer 84 and transmitter 86 are known, and it will further be appreciated that any known device for transmitting a signal or message upon completion of an electrical circuit could be used in connection with or in place of alarm box 82, telephone dialer 84 and/or transmitter 86.

Referring again generally to FIG. 2, cover 32 is a generally circular disk having a hole 90 sized to accommodate pipe 33. As noted above, cover 32 sits on top flange 44 of cap 30. A gasket 48 may be placed between cover 32 and top flange 44 to maintain a watertight seal between cap 30 and cover 32. In one particular embodiment, cover 32 and top flange 44 each include a plurality of holes therethrough for accommodating fasteners such as screws or bolts. As with the other apertures discussed above, hole 90 through cover 32 includes structure for insuring a watertight seal between pipe 33 and cover 32. Such structure may include a bulkhead fitting, or other known gaskets, washers, caulking, or other seals or sealing agents.

The assembly and use of the above-described apparatus will now be described in the context of placing such structure in a residential building under construction. It will be appreciated that the apparatus and methods described herein may be used with a variety of structures, and may be incorporated into a structure as a retrofit after initial construction has been completed.

Once the sump pit 22 has been formed in floor 24, and any sump pit liner (not shown) has been placed in sump pit 22, cap 30 is placed over sump pit 22 so that base 40 of cap 30 rests on floor 24 and entirely surrounds sump pit 22. At this point, cap 30 does not have cover 32 attached to top flange 44. Cap 30 is then attached to floor 24 so that a watertight seal exists between cap 30 and floor 24. In the example given above, this is done by placing threaded concrete anchors in floor 24, inserting bolts 34 through base 40 and into such concrete anchors, and tightening bolts 34. A sealing caulk may be placed between base 40 and floor 24, or around base 40 at its interface with floor 24. Cap 30 is thereby anchored with respect to floor 24 and sump pit 22. Sump pump 26 is lowered into sump pit 22 through cap 30 and is connected to an electrical supply. Alternatively, sump pump 26 could be placed in sump pit 22 prior to placing or fixing cap 30 on or to floor 24.

Desired pipes, fittings, and accessories, such as one or more of those described above, are fitted to cap 30. Specifically, if cap 30 has bulkhead fittings already fitted to each of its apertures 52, 54, 60, 66, 68 and 74, then the structures described above can be fitted directly to the inside of such bulkhead fittings. Thus, a portion of conduit 28 can be fitted to the inside of a bulkhead fitting associated with egress aperture 52. Drain pipe 56 is connected to an interior portion of a bulkhead fitting associated with drain aperture 54, accessory pipe 64 is connected to a bulkhead fitting associated with accessory aperture 60, sight tube 70 is fitted to bulkhead fittings associated with the sight tube apertures 66 and 68, and conduit 76 with its associated float switch 78 and wire(s) 80 is attached to a bulkhead fitting associated with alarm aperture 74.

The connections and any necessary adjustments to or other work on the sump pump 26 or other devices or apparatuses in sump pit 22 are performed through the opening in the top of cap 30 inside top flange 44. Likewise, parts to be connected to the outside of cap 30 are attached. For example, the portion of conduit 28 extending from the exterior of cap 30 is fitted to the exterior of a bulkhead fitting associated with egress aperture 52. Faucet 58 is connected to a bulkhead fitting on the exterior of cap 30 associated with drain aperture 54. Accessory tree 62 is connected to a bulkhead fitting on the outside of cap 30 associated with accessory tree aperture 60. The structures on the exterior of cap 30 are then further connected via fluid connection to other inlets, outlets or devices, as described above and/or as is well known in the art.

Cover 32 and gasket 48, if it is used, are then placed atop and attached to top flange 44 of cap 30. As previously noted, cover 32 may be attached to top flange 44 by a plurality of screws or other fasteners. Other devices or methods for attaching cover 32 to top flange 44 are contemplated, as long as cover 32 is relatively easily removable from top flange 44. Cover 32 is removable from top flange 44 so that access to the interior of cap 30 and sump pit 22 can be easily obtained for replacement or maintenance of parts therein.

Pipe 33 may be fitted to cover 32 either before or after cover 32 is attached to top flange 44 of cap 30. In one embodiment, pipe 33 extends several inches through hole 90 in cover 32 into the interior of cap 30, and is relatively rigidly fixed to cover 32, as by a grooved rubber seal (not shown) or the like. For additional stability, brackets may attach to pipe 33 and cover 32, or an upper part of pipe 33 may be supported or guided by one or more brackets, clamps, or similar structures on a wall, ceiling, or other part of the basement in which sump pit 22 is located. In one particular embodiment, wires for conducting power to sump pump 26 exit sump pit 22 via at least a portion of pipe 33, and can exit pipe 33 through a sealed opening to connect to a power source.

During normal operation, i.e. when sump pump 26 is operating normally, water collects in sump pit 22 until it reaches a certain depth. At that time, sump pump 26 is activated by its float switch, and pumps a volume of water from sump pit 22 through conduit 28 to the exterior of the house in which sump pit 22 is located. However, when sump pump 26 malfunctions or is otherwise non-operational, water will continue collecting in sump pit 22 from channels 29. With sump pit 26 inoperative, the water level may continue to rise within sump pit 22. If there is sufficient water along the foundation to generate a pressure on channels 29 that is higher than the pressure on the channels 29 from within sump pit 22, then water will be forced into sump pit 22. At some point, water may rise into the volume inside cap 30. If water continues to flow into channels 29 and sump pit 22, for example during a series of heavy storms, prolonged snow or ice melt, or the like, water may fill the volume within cap 30 and begin to rise within pipe 33. However, because of the watertight seals between base 40 of cap 30 and floor 24, and the watertight seal around each of the apertures in sidewall 42 of cap 30 as well as the watertight seal between cover 32 and pipe 33, no water escapes into the basement from the volume within sump pit 22, cap 30 and pipe 33.

As the water level rises within sump pit 22, cap 30 and pipe 33, the water may enter a portion of drain pipe 56, but cannot run out of faucet 58 unless the valve on faucet 58 is opened. The water also cannot exit through the accessory tree due to the mechanical float valve that does not permit such outward flow from cap 30. The rising water level will fill sight tube 70, causing float 72 to rise with the water level. Thus, sight tube 70 and float 72 provide a visual indication that the water level has reached the inside of cap 30. Further, as the water level within sump pit 22 rises, float switch 78 will rise to close the alarm circuit. As described above, when the alarm circuit is closed, visual, audial, telephone, transmitted, or other alarms are given.

The sealed cap 30 and pipe 33 provide not only additional volume to contain rising water in the event of an inoperative sump pump, but also provide a column of water to counter the inward pressure on and around channels 29 from water around the foundation of the building in which the sump pit 22 is located. Thus, if the local water table is relatively high, or if a large amount of water is in the soil adjacent the foundation and is seeking to enter sump pit 22 via channels 29, the height of the water within cap 30 and pipe 33 provides a pressure on channels 29 that counters the pressure on channels 29 from outside the building. Theoretically, so long as the open upper end of pipe 33 is higher than the level of the water outside the foundation of the house, even for example during minor flooding, no water should enter the basement via sump pit 22. This is because when the water level inside pipe 33 reaches the level of the water outside the foundation, no further water can flow into sump pit 22, and the level in pipe 33 does not rise any further. While some water may seep through the walls of the basement, substantial basement flooding that occurs when a sump pit 22 overflows will be limited or prevented.

For ease of manufacture and installation, and for prevention of corrosion, it is currently preferred to manufacture shell 31 and cover 32 of cap 30 out of hard plastic material. The structures and apparatuses described above for attachment inside and/or outside of cap 30, including pipe 33, are generally commercially-available items, and are made of materials commonly used for such products. For example, pipe 33 is preferably standard polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe, and faucet 58 may be a standard metal faucet. One specific embodiment of shell 31 has an inner diameter of top flange 44 of similar or slightly larger size than the inner diameter of sump pit 22. While top flange 44 and base 40 of shell 31 are generally horizontal, sidewall 42 in this specific embodiment generally has an angle of approximately 100 degrees with respect to top flange 44 and base 40 (i.e. 10 degrees with respect to the vertical), except in the area immediately surrounding the above-described apertures through sidewall 42. Around these apertures (i.e. egress aperture 52, drain aperture 54, accessory tree aperture 60, sight tube apertures 66 and 68 and alarm aperture 74), sidewall 42 is generally vertical or at a generally right angle with respect to base 40 and top flange 44. The thickness of base 40, sidewall 42 and top flange 44 is in this specific embodiment about {fraction (1/4)} inch. Egress aperture 52 is sized for a 2-inch bulkhead fitting, and the remaining apertures in sidewall 42 are sized to fit one inch or ½ inch bulkhead fittings. Hole 90 in cover 32 is in one particular embodiment sized to accommodate a pipe 33 of four inches in diameter, and thus may have a diameter of four inches or slightly more, depending on the type of seal or sealing agent used to provide a watertight seal between pipe 33 and cover 32.

Once the homeowner or other person realizes that sump pump 26 is malfunctioning, either through an alarm alert, by recognizing that electrical power has been interrupted, by looking at sight tube 70 and float 72, or by other means, steps can be taken to remove the water from within sump pit 22, cap 30 and pipe 33. For example, faucet 58 can be opened to allow water to flow out and into a bucket, for example, which can then be transported out of the basement. The pressure in the system will allow a substantial amount of water to flow out of faucet 58, at least to drain enough water from within cap 30 and/or sump pit 22 to reduce the water level to below the level of cover 32. If a significant siphon effect is produced, it is possible that substantially more water may be drained through faucet 58. Once the water level is reduced below cover 32, cover 32 can be removed from shell 31, some or all of the remaining water in cap 30 and/or sump pit 22 can be drained, and maintenance of apparatus within sump pit 22 can be performed. Such maintenance can include repair or replacement of sump pump 26, repair or replacement of pipes or tubes within sump pit 22 and/or connected to cap 30, or other repair or replacement as may be known in the art. Once all appropriate maintenance is performed, cover 32 is reattached to shell 31.

While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all changes and modifications that come within the spirit of the invention are desired to be protected.