We have a problem...

not good

A client called as her sump pump had stopped working.  As a result, the drainage water backed up in the sump, submerging the outlet where the pump plugged in on the wall of the sump basin.  Live conductors were underwater, the copper conductors were corroded far along the wiring due to wicking, and the years had not been kind to either this pump receptacle or the box.  I cut the wires and pried the box off the wall of the, otherwise, very nice custom-built concrete basin in the garden:

nice basin

Here, emerging from the end of buried grey PVC electrical conduit, an orange wire, the hot lead for the pump, is seen entering the late box along with a white neutral and green ground wire coming in to complete the circuit for the pump and going out somewhere, more on that later.  At the edge of the garden, on the corner of the garage, the PVC conduit and the wires within start from the electrical service entrance panel, as can be seen exiting at the bottom of the panel, far left in the picture:

start at panel

Three circuits, two 15A "House lights & plugs" and one 20A "Sump Pump" are fed through this conduit:

Three circuits

Tracing the wires, there are two orange and a blue, the hots, only two whites, and one green ground:

Tracing the wires

The ultimate far end of this conduit run comes out of the ground and connects to a weathertight box on the side of the house:

conduit run

Here, I've connected a replacement sump pump to the GFCI receptacle, on one of the house circuits.  For some reason, a switch for each of the "House LIghts & Plugs" circuits has been installed here, also.  I think, if I get the commission to repair this installation, I will remove those:

House LIghts & Plugs

Funny thing, counting wires at this end, we have only two whites, an orange, a blue, and a green.  The two switched house circuits continue on under the house in NMB cable:

counting wires

Deduction suggests the other orange was somehow split from the underground conduit run to power the sump pump.  Also, the ground and one neutral took the same detour but were spliced in the basin box in order to continue on to the house circuits.  A neutral is shared between the sump pump circuit and one house circuit.  I imagined this setup could be accomplished by installing a tee in the conduit underground.  That would not be according to Hoyle; tees need to be accessible.  Client found a picture of the original installation in progress that confirmed my guess:

original installation

Knowing this much and assuming the rest of the hidden conduit installation was done properly, I could provide a proposal for addressing the various problems.  Client was having trouble visualizing the design and no expense was spared to have an elevation drawing of the scheme drafted:

elevation drawing

I would dig up the area above the T-condulet, cut it out, then install new conduit fittings, hardware, and accessible box to pull new wires and install a new receptacle for the pump above ground:

dig
      up
T-condulet
accessible box

In order to get the cord for the sump pump out of the basin and plugged into the new receptacle, in order to provide for easy replacement of the pump when needs be, modifications to the basin and cover were performed.  Clearance is chipped out of the top of the concrete sidewall and a 1-1/2" hole drilled through the covers frame:

Clearance


Off-the-shelf computer desk plastic cable organizer goes into an 1-1/2" hole in the desk, ordinarily.  The top part has a small hole to keep dirt out and separates in order to pull the large plug through:

plastic cable organizer

plastic cable organizer

nothced screen

The ferrule is glued in and trimmed flush.  A little more chipping for clearance is done inside the frame and the gravel screen gets a notch to let the cord pass.

The final cover goes on without any interference.  An "in-use" weatherproof cover keeps rain out while pump is plugged in:

"in-use" weatherproof cover

A small excavation in order to very occasionally remove the pump for repair or replacement is reasonable design, I think.  A small LED path light is on order to mount on the back of the box with photocell on top to ameliorate the trip hazard, possibly aid in maintenance in the night.

reasonable design

Home