Sump Pump

Garden Clippings for April 21, 2018

Sump pumps everywhere have been running full tilt for the past week and won’t get a rest until April showers subside.  And as long as the sump pump is doing its job, basements will remain dry and we have little to worry about.

But sump pumps are machines and sometimes machines fail.  The following are wise steps to take to ensure your sump pump and home drainage system remains in top shape.

Inspect your sump pump often, particularly during periods of rain.  If you are on vacation, arrange to have a neighbour check the system every few days.  You can test your pump by adding water to the basin and watching the pump do its job.  If it makes excessive noise or struggles to discharge water, it may need to be repaired or repaired.

Like a toilet tank, a sump pump has a float sensor that triggers the unit to run or shut off.  Make sure the float moves easily.

Keep the sump pump reservoir clean and free of debris.  That includes washing the walls of the reservoir to remove silt buildup.

Install a battery backup or hydraulic system that will kick into action if the sump pump fails or if the hydro goes out.  A battery backup will cost a few hundred dollars but that’s far less than the cost of new carpeting in the rec room.  Some insurance companies will not provide insurance unless you have a backup system in place.

Consider installing a generator.  A good generator will cost a few thousand dollars, but if set up properly will automatically run as soon as the power goes out.  A generator can be set to also run the freezer, refrigerator and a few key electrical outlets.

Make sure your eavestrough downspouts are working properly.  The discharge end should be extended so the water runs away from the house rather than back towards the house.

Check the grading around the house to make sure the soil level slopes downward away from the house.  The best way to check slopes and downspouts is to go outside during a warm rainstorm and watch the flow of water.

Pay special attention if your home is new and the backfill around the house foundation has not yet settled.  Builders will often bulldoze and grade the soil to the desired grade but may not allow for complete settling which will only occur after a few years.

It may be helpful to use a line level or carpenter’s level to ensure proper grading around the house.  Your objective is to have 2 or 3 inches of fall for every 10 feet.  If necessary add soil at low spots near the house.  Remember that it is far better to have water pooling at the bottom of the yard than at the house foundation.