There's no advantage to a wet basement. Sump pump failures happen, but you can take steps to limit them.
Unless you have a finished basement, chances are that’s not a part of the house that crosses your mind often. You may walk down to the basement to do laundry or to find that bin of summer clothes, but it’s not a daily destination. And if you have a crawlspace, you probably never think about what’s going on underneath your living space—unless there’s a problem.
Whether you have a crawlspace or a basement, sump pump disasters are no laughing matter. Your sump pump is there for one reason: to get rid of water. When things go wrong, you could face significant damage or the slow, steady frustration of trying to eliminate mold and mildew from your home.
Like any system in your home, there are plenty of things that can go wrong with a sump pump. There is also a lot you can do to counteract those system failures. Here are some common failures, as well as ways to prevent those failures from turning into disasters.
What every homeowner should know about
water damage and sump pumps
If your crawlspace or basement floods regularly—or even occasionally—a sump pump could help. With a sump pump, any water in your basement drains via gravity into a sump pit, where the pump is activated and begins pushing water out of and away from your home through a drain pipe.
As simple as that is, there are still more than a few horror stories out there about sump pumps that broke down or didn’t work well enough to keep up with the amount of water. So what can go wrong?
Most sump pumps run on regular household current. If that power goes out, your sump pump won’t work, which could be a big problem in a strong storm. The easiest way around this problem is to either install a combination sump pump that includes a battery-operated backup system or purchase a separate battery backup pump to supplement an already-installed primary pump.
Too much water
Sump pumps are rated by horsepower (HP) and by how many gallons per hour (GPH) of water they can move. How much power you need depends largely on where you live and how big your basement or crawlspace is. A large home in a dry region may not need the same size pump as a small home in an area prone to flooding. What’s important is choosing a sump pump strong enough to handle the workload. If your pump isn’t powerful enough to keep up with the amount of water under your home, you’re at risk for a flooded basement.
Clogged drain pipe
When your sump pump is working properly, water is pumped through a pipe and away from your home. For an average pump, that’s between 3,500 and 4,000 GPH. If that drain pipe gets clogged or frozen, that water has nowhere to go except back into your basement. To prevent this, make sure your drain pipe has a grate or cover to keep debris and small animals out. To prevent freezing, you can use an insulating wrap or heat tape. If your pipe freezes even with those preventative measures, use a hair dryer to thaw the ice.
Worn out pump
Like any mechanical item, a sump pump will eventually wear out. If you find your pump is making odd noises, cycling irregularly, or is more than 7 to 10 years old, it might be time for a replacement.
Just like your heating system or your roof, a sump pump requires regular maintenance, some of which you can do on your own. As you work through your quarterly home maintenance list, check your sump pit for debris, check and clean your drain pipe, make sure hose connections are secure, and inspect the power cord for damage, kinks, or fraying. Indiana Foundation Service also recommends an annual service visit from a professional to clean and check the moving parts of the pump, test batteries, and look for potential issues to be aware of.
Overall, a sump pump is likely a good investment in your home. According to Home Advisor, the national average for installing a new sump pump is $1,128, and the cost to replace an existing pump is in the $400 to $500 range.
Those prices can vary quite a bit depending on labor rates, geography, and the type of pump you purchase. Pumps themselves can range from as little as $50 to as much as $3,000. But even a more expensive installation is better than dealing with the cost and frustration of a flooded basement.
Even a relatively minor amount of water can lead to problems with mold, some species of termites, and rotting wood. In short, those are all issues that you can potentially avoid with a sump pump.
Did you know Pekin Insurance home insurance can cover the cost of water back-ups and equipment breakdowns? Get in touch with your local Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more.