Summer brings barbecues, baseball, swimming, warm weather, and RAIN. Lots of rain which can flood basements if you do not take proper measures. Now, not EVERY basement has a sump pump, but if yours does, it is important to know what you should do to make sure when you need it, the sump pump works properly. Waking up to a failed sump pump and flooded basement after an overnight storm is a nightmare.
In August of 2019, the total precipitation at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport reached 29.64 inches. That landed 2019 in second place for total precipitation recorded. First place still belongs to 1892 with a total of 31.75 inches recorded. No matter the year or measured rainfall, a properly working sump pump will save you time and money. Knowing how your pump works and providing regular maintenance is important.
What Does a Sump Pump Do?
In the lowest part of your basement is a perforated sump basin that collects and manages water levels from below your slab as they rise and fall during rainfall, flooding, and winter melt. Inside that basin is a sump pump that prevents your basement from flooding by pumping out any accumulated water once the attached floating indicator triggers the pump. The main purpose of a sump pump is to keep your basement dry and prevent standing water and mold growth. Sump pumps should last up to 10 years, with regular maintenance and upkeep. To maintain the quality, and to prevent failure, there are some steps you can take to test your sump pump throughout the year, before a chance of flood.
Preventative Maintenance Tips
Back-Up Battery – Sump pumps run off of regular home electricity like most other appliances and during a heavy storm you could lose power. Having a battery back up in place will ensure full function of your pump continues if water levels rise and need to be pumped out. Most battery backups come with a power indicator and or alarm so confirming function is simple. It is best to have a professional install them but this can be done by the homeowner as well.
Water Sensor – Purchase a water sensor! There are water sensor alarm systems you can set up in or near your sump basin or on the basement floor that will sound an alarm when the water sensor detects water. There are now sensors that are app capable and will text right to your phone or email you that your basement floor is wet. One example is the SimpleSence water sensor. This device can help prevent flooded basements and failed sump pumps before you walk down into your basement and discover it yourself. Awareness of a small problem may give you the time to prevent a big one.
Annual Test – By testing your sump pump every year, you can work at preventing any mishaps during a time when it needs to work. Make this your opportunity to do any preventative maintenance and repairs on the sump pump before it is an emergent situation. For those living in areas with high flood risk, you may want to consider bi-annual checkups on your sump pump. Make sure all drain hoses are connected correctly, tightly, and are fully intact. Check for leaks, float obstructions, and make sure the sump pump is working properly. Check your battery life and give it a run-through – turn off your power and make sure that backup power kicks in. Pour water into your sump basin and let it fill up to do the full test and ensure everything is in working order. Clean out settled silt and debris with a shop vac to avoid clogging and pump burnout. Find more tips to make sure your sump pump is working as it should here.
If Your Pump Fails – If your pump does fail, do not panic. Keep in mind some tips for fast-acting flood control. You want to dry out your basement as quickly as you can, immediately removing all items that may have gotten wet. Mold begins growing within 48 hours, so it is important to get valuables, cardboard boxes, rugs, and furniture out and dried as soon as you can. Place fans and dehumidifiers in the basement to ensure the basement gets completely dry, and no dampness remains. If you have a moist basement to begin with, running a dehumidifier often can help alleviate dampness and prolong items stored down there.
Contact your local ServiceMaster for a clean-up and/or damage assessment.
If you do find yourself with a failed sump pump and a mess in your basement, give us a call for all your clean-up needs. We answer phones 24/7 and a prompt response will mitigate damage to your structure.
This is an updated blog. The original was posted on August 16, 2019, and can be found here.