“Honey, there’s water in the basement,” are six words you never want to hear. Cue the scramble to move precious boxes of holiday decorations, family photos, and valuable items to higher ground before they’re destroyed, then figure out how to deal with the cleanup, insurance claims, and inevitable repairs. Thousands of dollars and many headaches later, you’ll be lucky to recover with minimal loss and damage. But, that’s only if you’re lucky enough to be home when a flood happens.
As the rain continues to fall and water levels continue to rise across Upstate and Western New York this spring, homeowners are experiencing more sump pump failures and flooded basements than ever. With the National Weather Service predicting above-average precipitation levels for the summer ahead, the water is showing no signs of stopping.
Stay dry with these simple steps for proper sump pump maintenance and basement flood prevention.
- Give your sump pump a visual check-up. If your sump pump has been working overtime lately, regular visual inspections will ensure that everything stays in working order. Check the sump pump, float, and sump pump monitor for signs of damage or alterations. Repair any issues as soon as you spot them.
- Ensure the pump is standing upright. Vibrations that occur during normal operation can sometimes cause the pump to fall or tilt. This can lead to jamming, which could prevent the pump from activating when you need it most. Make sure the pump is upright and level.
- Verify the pump is plugged into a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). This is essential in protecting against electrical shock and fire. The pump should also have its own circuit breaker to prevent tripping of the breaker. Always unplug the pump before performing any repairs or maintenance.
- Test your system. Want to be sure your pump is ready to handle the next storm? Pour a bucket of water into the pit. The pump should automatically activate and the water should drain quickly. The float and the check valve should move freely. If you notice any problems, schedule service immediately.
- Clean the sump pit. Debris such as dirt, gravel and sand can slow down your pump or cause it to malfunction. Perform routine cleanings at least once per year to help the system work properly and prolong its life.
- Use a sump pump monitor. Doyle Security provides sump pump monitoring and will alert you when water in the pit reaches a dangerous level.
The WaterBug works with your home security system to monitor the water level in your sump pump basin and contact you if it reaches a dangerous level. It can also be used to monitor water levels in other high-risk areas of your home, such as near hot water tanks, washing machines, electronics, or areas used to store important documents.
- Update outdated sump pump monitors. If you have an older monitoring device with moving parts, like the Cellar Saver, consider updating to the WaterBug for greater reliability with no moving parts.
Cellar Saver Models
In addition to sump pump maintenance and monitoring, follow these flood prevention measures to keep water where it belongs - outside of your home.
- Check your foundation for cracks. A simple check of your home or building’s foundation can save you thousands of dollars down the road. Fill any small or medium-sized cracks or gaps with epoxy. For larger, more serious problems, consult a professional.
- Clean out your gutters. Excess debris clogging your gutters can cause overflow. Clean your gutters at least twice a year to keep water flowing out and away from your home.
- Strategically place your downspouts and downspout extensions. Your downspout is the pipe that carries water from the gutter to the ground. Water runoff should drain at least three feet from your foundation. If your existing downspout drains too close to home, install a downspout extension, which can be purchased for under $20.
- Have an emergency power source. Heavy rain and wind storms can lead to power outages. If your home or building loses power, your sump pump and other appliances won’t be able to function. A backup generator will assure that your sump pump has power in the case of an outage.