Sump pumps provide peace of mind to residential and commercial property owners. Most of the time they do the intended job, which is to prevent a basement from flooding by removing water that collects in the sump basin and extracting it to an outside location. However, like any mechanical system in the home, it’s not fail proof (the average life expectancy is 10 years). A sump pump spends most of its time on standby, waiting for water and it’s out of sight, out of mind. A sump pump is one of the most critical yet most ignored disaster prevention devices in a home. Unfortunately, too many people fail to check the condition of their sump pump until they notice it’s not working. That, of course, doesn’t happen until water begins backing up out of the pit. Left unchecked, it can quickly spread and cause thousands of dollars of damage, especially in finished basements with expensive furniture and electronics.
Causes of Sump Pump Failures
There are several reasons why your sump pump might be failing, and identifying these problems is important. Learning more about how they can fail can help to prevent them happening again in the future. Here are the most common situations in which severe water damage occurs because of these problems.
Power Outages – Often in severe weather, unlucky homeowners get stuck with a flooded basement. Bad conditions can cause an electrical power outage, which can completely incapacitate the sump pump’s ability to drain the excess water. One solution is to install a battery-powered backup sump pump. The backup pump can be attached to the discharge pipe and positioned next to your main pump. The float arm is positioned so it will only engage the backup pump if the main pump fails to turn on. Installing a backup sump pump can end up saving you headaches and money.
Overworked Pump – Whether the sump pump is old or the water is just coming in too fast, the mechanism alone can’t handle the amount of water filling into the foundation. This will usually occur during flash floods and other heavy rains. If your sump pump is the wrong size, it can break earlier than expected and perform poorly. To be exact, you need a 1/3 horsepower sump pump, capable of pumping 35 gallons of water per minute, to adequately tackle potential flooding. If your home rests on a high-water table, it is advised that you purchase an even more powerful 1/2 horsepower sump pump that can pump 60 gallons of water per minute.
Switch Problems – Among the most frustrating sump pump fails is a stuck switch. If the pump’s position inside the basin is disturbed, it can impede the float’s normal range of motion, preventing it from engaging the switch. Your sump pump relies on both the switch and the float arm mechanisms to operate effectively. You can overcome these issues with some cleaning and sump pump repositioning.
Clogged Discharge Pipe – If your sump pump’s discharge pipe is clogged with debris, water will flow back down the pipe and subsequently, all over your basement. To prevent your discharge pipe from clogging, make sure the opening of your pipe is protected with a grate. Installing a protective cover will prevent debris and small animals from entering your discharge pipe and causing a clog.
Periodic Maintenance and Testing
Sump pumps do not usually require a lot of maintenance. However, conducting periodic maintenance and testing is the best way to ensure that the sump pump will operate when required. If you haven’t heard your pump run recently, test it. Remove the cover and slowly pour water into the sump pit. Once the water reaches the pump sensor level, the sump pump float should rise and trigger the pump to begin extracting the water, then turn itself off again. If you have a backup pump, test it a few times each year to determine if it will work in the event of a blackout. And make a note of when the battery is due to be replaced. The backup pump won’t work if the battery dies. When testing your pump, make sure the discharge line’s airhole is clear. The float switch on the pump shouldn’t be restrained so make sure electrical cords aren’t tangled around the switch. Remove any gravel in the sump pit and check that the screen that covers the sump pump’s water intake is clear of debris. A vinegar solution can be run through the sump pump in order to clean it. The pump will become free from tiny particles and debris which will allow the pump to run much cleaner.
If You Experience Water Damage, Get To It Fast
First, be safe. A flooded basement is hazardous. Never enter a wet or flooded basement until the electricity to that area has been shut off at the main panel or the meter. Remove what you can. If clean water is limited to shallow pooling, use mops or wet/dry vacuum to remove it. Dry the area as quickly as possible. Use dehumidifiers, open any basement windows (provided the outside air isn’t too humid) and run fans to circulate air. Don’t use your home’s furnace to dry out, as you could spread mold throughout your entire home. Contact your insurance agent to report a claim. Be sure to save any receipts from incurred expenses to help process your claim. If the remnants of water damage are not completely treated and dried, you could also find yourself with a secondary problem from mold.
Contact the Water Damage Professionals
When basement flooding occurs and the sump pump fails, you don’t have a minute to lose. Call Xtreme Home Improvement immediately. Our complete restoration services include residential and commercial water damage remediation. You can rely us to expertly and efficiently handle your problem. Our professionals will treat property as if it were our own. We are licensed, bonded, and insured, and our technicians are IICRC certified, which means they possess the expertise to properly handle the water damage you’ve sustained. We utilize state-of-the-art industry-grade water extraction and drying equipment, all ready to take care of any water damage situation.