It’s that time of year when the weather creeps above freezing and snow and ice starts melting!
A welcome sign of Spring, but with melting snow comes water and lots of it! This water needs somewhere to go, and that place could unfortunately be your basement. Most basements and some crawlspaces are equipped with flood control systems to keep water out. A sump pump, submerged in a small pit usually in the corner of the foundation quietly ejects ground and flood water outside of the house keeping the basement dry. When working correctly, you may not even notice the sump pump there, but with several inches of snow melt, the flood control system will be working overtime to keep water out of the house.
A sump pump failure can be a major disaster, especially in a finished basement. Flood waters can damage walls, appliances and possessions resulting in costly repairs and headache. Here are some helpful tips to make sure your sump pump is in good condition and fit to handle a great deal of water.
Extend the drain spout.
It is best to have your sump pump discharge as far from your house and foundation as possible. Twenty feet is recommended, so that water can seep into the ground, rather than pooling near the foundation and seeping back into the house.
Keep the drain clear.
Keep the sump pump drain line free of debris. Any leaves, sticks, grass or other organic matter can block the line and not let water flow out as effectively, potentially resulting in water backing up into the sump pit and your basement. Also, make sure to remove any snow or ice from the drain line.
Test for proper operation.
It’s a good idea to check your sump pump for proper operation regularly, but if you’ve been putting it off, now is as good a time as any to make sure the pump is working as it should. Test the float switch by lifting it up out of the water to confirm the pump turns on. The operation is similar to a toilet cistern filling system, when water reaches a certain level, the float controls a switch to turn the pump on or off. Pouring a few gallons of water into the pit to make sure it ejects out of the house will also confirm the pump is working properly.
Keep the pit clean.
Any debris in the sump pit can cause clogs in the sump pump and discharge line. Remove any solid matter from the pit to keep it running normally. If you’re doing any sort of project that involves demolition or creation of dust and debris in the basement, make sure the pit is covered to prevent anything from falling in.
Back it up.
In the event of a severe storm or other electrical outage, if your sump pump doesn’t have power, it won’t work. A battery backup system is a great way to make sure you’ll stay high and dry in a storm, as the sump pump can still work even without electricity to the house.
Call a pro. if you don’t feel confident to diagnose and troubleshoot your flood control system, call a plumber or waterproofing company. They’ll be able to provide the best guidance on maintaining or replacing your flood control system to make sure water stays out of your basement!