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Basement/Garage Sumps and Construction

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Hey everyone!  I'll be starting my fish room hopefully at the beginning of the year but wanted to tap this community for advice.  Anyone have a basement sump?  @albertareef I'm sure you'll have some contributions here.  

Next question is what would you guys and gals advise I do for the construction end?  I'm sort of handy and have tools but am not any kind of carpenter.  The plan is to find a reputable GC and plan it out with them but my main concern is that they will likely have no experience with fish rooms.  I'd be willing to hire someone off here if they want work in Salem and are bonded/insured.  I need to clear the space out a little but I'll post pictures of the area.  Basically it'd be converting a Harry Potter understair room.  Knock the main wall out and extend it 3-4 feet, add a door, ventilation, wash tub, floor drain, reroute a cable run, add a socket or two etc.  I plan on heavy ventilation but don't trust my own lack of know-how around shutting up that much water in a closed area.  The sump is a 150g stock tank that will live down there full of rock.  Moisture barriers and such are beyond me.  A big concern is that the garage has tall ceilings (~16') and I could use ideas for what kind of pump I'm going to need to get the water upstairs, be it internal or external but definitely not interested in DC controllable types.  Luckily the fish room should be more or less right under the tank.  

Anyways, this is coming and I'd like to start my conversation with you all! It's either this or a slightly less extreme compromise of putting water barrels in the room and a sink and just using it for water making/changes and pumping RO/DI water into the reservoir.  This would mean I'd just be using the sump that comes with the tank for filtration which isn't a bad choice either.  Certainly the cheaper one.  

Edited by youcallmenny
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Very exciting Greg! There is a lot to consider and it sounds like you are thinking everything through. As far as pumps, take a look at Reeflo www.reeflopumps.com.

I can't wait to see how this build progresses!

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I guess I could weigh in since I wish I had one and will be envious when you get it up and running 😁

Can’t  wait to see what you come up with. For some waterproofing advice you might give a shout out to Brian @pdxmonkeyboy as he has some experience working with humid locations.   He also just went to great lengths to setup a remote sump location in his new house. I think Holly’s tip re pumps is worth a look as well.

Throw up some pics when you get a chance!

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No real need to hire someone, its all pretty straight forward stuff. Well, it can be straightforward or you could cut into some drywall and find a huge supporting beam like i did

 

if your basement isnt finished its pretty much childs play. The basement in my new house is finished so I had to use every trick in the book.. including a sweet little endoscope that blue tooths to your cell phone.

 

i was going to post a build thread but i really didnt see a point.

 

But maybe i should as i just got this ridiculous skimmer... which is worth its own thread. lol. (thats a 5 gallon carboy next to it)

f2f10e530cc46ab9b65c18eef1e477d0.jpg

 

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ohh, and there is only ONE pump you need and that is a reeflo. Insane head distances and built like tanks. When you get one of these things you will say "wow" now THAT is a real pump.

I have the hammerhead/barracuda.

check out there website.

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Fish room!!??  Congrats!  I am a huge fan, @Saltwater newbie and @stylaster are two locals up here that showed me the way.  I have one in (very slow) progress...

I definitely recommend the reeflos too, i will be using a pair of hammerheads for my equivalent garage sump.

If you get a reeflo, just remember eventually the seals leak.  So be prepared well for that with a spare if possible and a water proof area for the pumps.

Also these use more power than a low head height DC pump. 

If possible get a new electrical sub panel wired in down there with circuits for your tank.  AFCIs in the panel, GFCIs on each device.  Saltwater == corrosion == resistance == heat.

You ran an APEX right?  Get a flow meter to see if return pumps stop, circuits trip etc.

I plan to run active/active, two hammerheads at once.  If one leaks I still have 50% of the returns up while seals get replaced.  Been doing that with the jebaos for a while now and it works great.

 

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Check out my basement build thread.  Haven’t updated in awhile but the construction is all done

my biggest concern was humidity and rot caused by all the water in the room. 

When doing the walls I️ highly recommend FRP instead of paint.  It’s corrosion resistance and waterproof!  You can seal every joint and seam with silicone to make a truly waterproof room.

you will need electrical!  A sub panel is a great idea, have at least two 20 amp circuits.  I️ would recommend 4plexes as opposed to the regular 2receptacle outlets and have them at least every other stud....you can never have too many.  Ceiling outlets are also very useful!

Thankfully fish rooms rarely require anything but 90 degree angles so any DIYer can do it themselves.  Just be prepared to spend a lot of time planning and messing up.

my biggest mistake was using a circular saw to cut Sheetrock as opposed to scoring and snapping it.   Covered my house in dust on every floor even through I️ did it in the basement.   My wife was ecstatic and I️ dusted daily for a week to get it all cleaned.

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10 hours ago, Gil&Fin said:

Very exciting Greg! There is a lot to consider and it sounds like you are thinking everything through. As far as pumps, take a look at Reeflo www.reeflopumps.com.

I can't wait to see how this build progresses!

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Thanks for the suggestion Holly!  I'm happy I have such a wonderful community to consult over this.  The pump question has strangely been stressing me out and I kept convincing myself I would need 2 x Vectra's or something else crazy.  I just have no experience with bigger pumps is all.  It's definitely making it more fun for me already.  Passion shared and all that.

9 hours ago, albertareef said:

I guess I could weigh in since I wish I had one and will be envious when you get it up and running 😁

Can’t  wait to see what you come up with. For some waterproofing advice you might give a shout out to Brian @pdxmonkeyboy as he has some experience working with humid locations.   He also just went to great lengths to setup a remote sump location in his new house. I think Holly’s tip re pumps is worth a look as well.

Throw up some pics when you get a chance!

Oh???  I thought you had said your sump was in the basement.  Was that the old system?  Stay tuned Sean, you know I value your input!  You brought up using alternative pumps to what I was thinking at the last meeting and it's got me to this point so that's great.

9 hours ago, pdxmonkeyboy said:

No real need to hire someone, its all pretty straight forward stuff. Well, it can be straightforward or you could cut into some drywall and find a huge supporting beam like i did emoji4.png

if your basement isnt finished its pretty much childs play. The basement in my new house is finished so I had to use every trick in the book.. including a sweet little endoscope that blue tooths to your cell phone.

i was going to post a build thread but i really didnt see a point.

But maybe i should as i just got this ridiculous skimmer... which is worth its own thread. lol. (thats a 5 gallon carboy next to it)

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

 

Hi!  I think we've seen each other around at meetings but haven't had a chance to chat yet.  I hope to see you at the holiday party, I'd love to pick your brain a little bit if you're ok with that.  

Here's some specifics: The understair is actually in the garage.  The house is huge and kind of interesting in that it's finished basement sits halfway between the garage and main floors.  The basement is a 4th huge bedroom that will always be used so it's kind of off limits.  

Also if I didn't hire someone my wife would remove parts of my anatomy.  She knows as well as I do that I am in no way qualified to give a room like that the 'ok'.  It's not that I'm helpless, it's just lack of experience and a strong desire that it is all done right (or as close to as is realistic) the first time.  Really if I had to put my finger on it, there's less than a dozen tasks that even need to be done.  Primarily among them is the plumbing line, the electrical line, the drain and the sink.  Those are the things that are absolutely, completely out of my ability.  Then there's the framing and drywall which anyone can do but I am not good at it and frankly would rather just have that done.  I have bad lung damage from Iraq/Korean DMZ and gypsum dust doesn't play well with me without a ventilator.  Besides, experience speaks volumes and all.  At any rate, I've been watching your own progress and I'm sure you're a wealth of relevant information if you don't mind sharing.  

1 hour ago, TheClark said:

Fish room!!??  Congrats!  I am a huge fan, @Saltwater newbie and @stylaster are two locals up here that showed me the way.  I have one in (very slow) progress...

I definitely recommend the reeflos too, i will be using a pair of hammerheads for my equivalent garage sump.

If you get a reeflo, just remember eventually the seals leak.  So be prepared well for that with a spare if possible and a water proof area for the pumps.

Also these use more power than a low head height DC pump. 

If possible get a new electrical sub panel wired in down there with circuits for your tank.  AFCIs in the panel, GFCIs on each device.  Saltwater == corrosion == resistance == heat.

You ran an APEX right?  Get a flow meter to see if return pumps stop, circuits trip etc.

I plan to run active/active, two hammerheads at once.  If one leaks I still have 50% of the returns up while seals get replaced.  Been doing that with the jebaos for a while now and it works great.

 

Thanks Jeremy!  I would highly value either one of their opinions and advice.  Sounds like reeflo wins the vote so I'll do that.  I think I'd like to keep the pump internal if at all possible, either in the sump upstairs or down, depending on the severity of the final project.  I expect more power usage, that's a big jump for the water but the DC pumps generally cannot cover that distance from what I can see in their specs.  

Sub panel maybe if I go full out.  Otherwise it's only going to need to power <10 devices downstairs.  The issue here is that this giant house has already filled every single breaker slot so a submain is really my only recourse.  At any rate, I'll be sure to use interrupters.  Thank you for that, that's exactly the technical expertise that I need to hear!  

I do not use an APEX.  I use no controllers other than myself, float valves and timers.  I don't know why.  I have plenty of scripting/coding experience but I have enjoyed the simplicity so far and it doesn't cause me any grief.  There will probably come a day though.  

The dual pump idea is mandatory for sure.  Running both at once is an interesting idea though that I would probably like to discuss more.  Why not just run one and when it dies switch to the other?  Just curious if you sense any difference in these two scenarios.  Thanks again for the advice!

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1 hour ago, youcallmenny said:

Thanks for the suggestion Holly!  I'm happy I have such a wonderful community to consult over this.  The pump question has strangely been stressing me out and I kept convincing myself I would need 2 x Vectra's or something else crazy.  I just have no experience with bigger pumps is all.  It's definitely making it more fun for me already.  Passion shared and all that.

Oh???  I thought you had said your sump was in the basement.  Was that the old system?  Stay tuned Sean, you know I value your input!  You brought up using alternative pumps to what I was thinking at the last meeting and it's got me to this point so that's great.

Hi!  I think we've seen each other around at meetings but haven't had a chance to chat yet.  I hope to see you at the holiday party, I'd love to pick your brain a little bit if you're ok with that.  

Here's some specifics: The understair is actually in the garage.  The house is huge and kind of interesting in that it's finished basement sits halfway between the garage and main floors.  The basement is a 4th huge bedroom that will always be used so it's kind of off limits.  

Also if I didn't hire someone my wife would remove parts of my anatomy.  She knows as well as I do that I am in no way qualified to give a room like that the 'ok'.  It's not that I'm helpless, it's just lack of experience and a strong desire that it is all done right (or as close to as is realistic) the first time.  Really if I had to put my finger on it, there's less than a dozen tasks that even need to be done.  Primarily among them is the plumbing line, the electrical line, the drain and the sink.  Those are the things that are absolutely, completely out of my ability.  Then there's the framing and drywall which anyone can do but I am not good at it and frankly would rather just have that done.  I have bad lung damage from Iraq/Korean DMZ and gypsum dust doesn't play well with me without a ventilator.  Besides, experience speaks volumes and all.  At any rate, I've been watching your own progress and I'm sure you're a wealth of relevant information if you don't mind sharing.  

Thanks Jeremy!  I would highly value either one of their opinions and advice.  Sounds like reeflo wins the vote so I'll do that.  I think I'd like to keep the pump internal if at all possible, either in the sump upstairs or down, depending on the severity of the final project.  I expect more power usage, that's a big jump for the water but the DC pumps generally cannot cover that distance from what I can see in their specs.  

Sub panel maybe if I go full out.  Otherwise it's only going to need to power <10 devices downstairs.  The issue here is that this giant house has already filled every single breaker slot so a submain is really my only recourse.  At any rate, I'll be sure to use interrupters.  Thank you for that, that's exactly the technical expertise that I need to hear!  

I do not use an APEX.  I use no controllers other than myself, float valves and timers.  I don't know why.  I have plenty of scripting/coding experience but I have enjoyed the simplicity so far and it doesn't cause me any grief.  There will probably come a day though.  

The dual pump idea is mandatory for sure.  Running both at once is an interesting idea though that I would probably like to discuss more.  Why not just run one and when it dies switch to the other?  Just curious if you sense any difference in these two scenarios.  Thanks again for the advice!

 

Glad it can help!

I run dual return pumps simply so that if one fails, I don't have to rush home. 

The last return pump failure I had was right before boarding a flight with the family.  My poor dad and uncle were swapping return pumps while we were on the flight.  Talk about timing! 

With dual returns it could have waited until I was home a week later most likely without issue.

I run each pump to a separate sea swirl.  They have no plumbing in common, check valves etc.  Simple!

Also each return pump is on its own 10 dollar GFCI.  That way if one trips, the other keeps running.  BTW it has never tripped...

Might be overkill for some, just sharing my setup...

 

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Haha - no worries Greg...  you probably heard me talking about how much I would like a remote sump location but haven't been able to work one into my house layout without putting too many holes in places they shouldn't go.  If I ever retire (not bloody likely) I may finally have time to plan something out and execute it.  In the meantime, everything is under my tank in the dinning room!  Glad to see my take on the pumps wasn't to off-base with the other advice you are getting.

Lots of the folk I would hope would weigh in here have so I think you are in good hands.  There are a couple of professional electricians on here (e.g. @Vance164) who might be willing to weigh in on the electrical challenges as well as Jeremy, Brian and Parzifal.  Sadly (for you) Vance is up in St. Helen's or maybe you could talk him into an on-site consult!  I think we have a structural engineer as well but can't recall who that is.  Love this place... such a great cross section of expertise!

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1 hour ago, TheClark said:

 

Glad it can help!

I run dual return pumps simply so that if one fails, I don't have to rush home. 

The last return pump failure I had was right before boarding a flight with the family.  My poor dad and uncle were swapping return pumps while we were on the flight.  Talk about timing! 

With dual returns it could have waited until I was home a week later most likely without issue.

I run each pump to a separate sea swirl.  They have no plumbing in common, check valves etc.  Simple!

Also each return pump is on its own 10 dollar GFCI.  That way if one trips, the other keeps running.  BTW it has never tripped...

Might be overkill for some, just sharing my setup...

 

Ah, that totally makes sense.  I think I'll go that route.  Great suggestion!

Edited by youcallmenny

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1 hour ago, albertareef said:

Haha - no worries Greg...  you probably heard me talking about how much I would like a remote sump location but haven't been able to work one into my house layout without putting too many holes in places they shouldn't go.  If I ever retire (not bloody likely) I may finally have time to plan something out and execute it.  In the meantime, everything is under my tank in the dinning room!  Glad to see my take on the pumps wasn't to off-base with the other advice you are getting.

Lots of the folk I would hope would weigh in here have so I think you are in good hands.  There are a couple of professional electricians on here (e.g. @Vance164) who might be willing to weigh in on the electrical challenges as well as Jeremy, Brian and Parzifal.  Sadly (for you) Vance is up in St. Helen's or maybe you could talk him into an on-site consult!  I think we have a structural engineer as well but can't recall who that is.  Love this place... such a great cross section of expertise!

:unsure::applause:  Now that you mention it I think I do remember the other part of what I heard.  The part about not wanting to drill through hardwood?  Haha ah well.  

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21 minutes ago, youcallmenny said:

:unsure::applause:  Now that you mention it I think I do remember the other part of what I heard.  The part about not wanting to drill through hardwood?  Haha ah well.  

Yep - that would be it!  Could try and open up walls and go through the sills but it would be a tight fit and I don't love repairing lath and plaster!

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i would start working on your wife now. While there is a LOT to think about, it is not all that difficult but for each of your "dozen things" there are another 8-10 things that need to be done. And on a finished house, the fees go WAY up for getting the work done by a contractor.

example: i ran a sub panel and all the lighting and outlet circuits in my new workshop in about 3 hours. Thats like 7 different circuits.

It took my about 14 hours in the new house to run the sump to DT plumbing.

You definately need to get someone out to your house before making tons of plans. You can put walls, fans and wires anywhere. Plumbing..specifically drain lines are the real challange.

Also things like sub panels and what not depend a lot on the locations of things and how full your existing system when trying to decide if they are worth it or not.

I should be at the holiday party..

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4 hours ago, youcallmenny said:

Ah, that totally makes sense.  I think I'll go that route.  Great suggestion!

It's more expensive for sure :saving:, but not much more expensive than having a backup pump sitting on the shelf! 

Makes me feel better anyways :fingerscrossed:

 

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8 hours ago, albertareef said:

Lots of the folk I would hope would weigh in here have so I think you are in good hands.  There are a couple of professional electricians on here (e.g. @Vance164) who might be willing to weigh in on the electrical challenges as well as Jeremy, Brian and Parzifal.  Sadly (for you) Vance is up in St. Helen's or maybe you could talk him into an on-site consult!  I think we have a structural engineer as well but can't recall who that is.  Love this place... such a great cross section of expertise!

thanks for the tag but I am not a licensed and bonded contractor ( but should be a licensed journeyman by the end of december!!!. and honestly am way to busy with normal work to take on a project right away. but feel free to pick my brain with any questions you may have. If you could do the project yourself it would be a lot cheaper. currently construction is crazy so the demand is high make sure to research whatever GC you use. 

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2 hours ago, Vance164 said:

thanks for the tag but I am not a licensed and bonded contractor ( but should be a licensed journeyman by the end of december!!!. and honestly am way to busy with normal work to take on a project right away. but feel free to pick my brain with any questions you may have. If you could do the project yourself it would be a lot cheaper. currently construction is crazy so the demand is high make sure to research whatever GC you use. 

 

Yep electricians are in great demand right now...........hell almost anyone in the construction business is busy right now if not well then you have issues :laugh: work is nuts for me right now and all I here from people is I cant find anyone.........

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6 minutes ago, spectra said:

 

Yep electricians are in great demand right now...........hell almost anyone in the construction business is busy right now if not well then you have issues :laugh: work is nuts for me right now and all I here from people is I cant find anyone.........

yea we've had over 100 calls unfilled for months a lot of jobs are paying incentive to get people to work and lots of overtime. 

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32 minutes ago, Vance164 said:

yea we've had over 100 calls unfilled for months a lot of jobs are paying incentive to get people to work and lots of overtime. 

We had a project at work that was willing to bring in masons from California, Hawaii, Washington etc. for a huge premium but still couldn’t find a crew. Crazy indeed. Would hate to be a homeowner trying to get something done right now. 

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We had a project at work that was willing to bring in masons from California, Hawaii, Washington etc. for a huge premium but still couldn’t find a crew. Crazy indeed. Would hate to be a homeowner trying to get something done right now. 
Dont get started... the last job i got bids on they ranged from 17k to 50k. 17k was high but doable. I wont repeat here what i told the 50k guy.

Like i said... talk to the mrs. because you may crap your pants if you get an estimate.

I never understood why people are so scared to build things and work on their own houses etc. All the information you need is readily available on that internet thing. A little common sense, lots of questions.. you will be fine. Just dont go cutting drywall with a circular saw. LMAO. sorry, but that is the funniest thing i heard in awhile.

Dont feel too bad though. My GF was cleaning the house and i was still sleeping. where is the shop vac? huh? "its in the garage."

about 10 minutes later i hear it running.. i start to wake up...i hope she realizes she needs to attach the filter because i just cleaned it.

i come out of the bedroom.. DAWN!!!! WHAT ARE YOU DOING!!!

She has her head in the wood burning stove, vacuuming out all the ash.... with no filter..... lets just saw i feel your dusting pain. :)
.

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It’s incredibly satisfying to build it yourself. Really gives a sense of ownership!

just watch how to videos and read the builds on reef websites.  Lots of good tips of how to avoid mistakes

 

like my drywall example and how not to splay wires(hint. Pull to the sides, not towards your face)

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I'll respond at length later but just so we're clear, I remodeled a huge amount of our last house.  It's just electrical/plumbing that skeeze me out.  I'm glad you guys brought up the contractor thing though because that's exactly what I've been experiencing.   Guess it might be time to learn! 

Edited by youcallmenny

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1 hour ago, Parzifal said:

It’s incredibly satisfying to build it yourself. Really gives a sense of ownership!

just watch how to videos and read the builds on reef websites.  Lots of good tips of how to avoid mistakes

 

like my drywall example and how not to splay wires(hint. Pull to the sides, not towards your face)

Oh man - I remember the pics of that latter incident.  Ouch!  Your build has been pretty epic though and a great inspiration for the DIYers out there!  Greg, if you haven't checked it out it's worth a look.

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