Sump pumps are one of the more mysterious elements of home ownership.
While most new homes in Ontario have some type of sump pump system, most homeowners (and especially first-time homebuyers) do not realize this may not be enough to protect your home from water damage.
With older homes, sump systems are less likely to be routed properly for new groundwater and runoff management regulations and are even less likely to have a backup system in place.
Understanding what type of sump pump system you have, what it will (or won’t) do if there is a power outage, how water is routed and how the system is supposed to work is critical to avoid damage due to seepage, leaks or outright flooding.
In this post, we talk about what you need to know about your sump system to protect your home and basement.
Sump Pumps Need Regular Maintenance
When was the last time you scheduled a safety inspection and preventative maintenance service for your sump system?
If you recently purchased your home and the previous owner did not provide good records, you may have no idea if this service has ever been done.
Yet sump pumps, just like other major appliances, require regular maintenance to work properly and ward off major repairs and outages. A sump system that is neglected can readily develop leaking seals, a faulty motor or parts that begin to rust or break.
You should schedule an inspection and preventative maintenance at least annually to clean the screen, the pump mechanism and the sump pit. Making small repairs, adding lubrication and adjusting the float can keep small issues from turning into major outages.
Your Sump Pump May Not Work In a Power Outage
Sump systems all too often fall into our “out of sight, out of mind” category – we may not be consciously aware on a day-to-day basis of how frequently our sump system runs or how well it runs.
Yet unless your sump pump has a backup system in place, it will likely fail to work during a power outage, which is often the time you need its protection the most!
There are different types of backup systems you can choose, from simple organic systems powered by water pressure to battery-operated backups and generator-run backups.
The important action is to make sure you have a backup system in place before you need it!
Sump Pumps Shouldn’t Run Continuously
You have a sump pump system in place to keep water from accumulating in your basement. If your sump system is running, this means it is doing its job.
But if your sump pump is running all the time, this in itself is a signal that all is not well in your basement.
A continuously running sump pump system indicates that water is constantly making its way inside your basement. Not only will a constantly-running sump pump experience more wear and tear that can reduce its useful life, but there may come a time when it can no longer keep up with the influx of water.
One of the leading causes of sudden sump system failure is overwork. Your sump pump system should not be running all the time.
There are a number of potential issues that may cause constant water influx, from shifting soil to a rising water table, widening cracks in basement walls or foundations, and more.
What to Do If Your Sump Pump Is Always Running
If your sump pump seems to never stop running, it is time to look deeper to find out why.
Identify leaks and seal them
Identifying separating wall and floor seals, micro-fissures or cracks, blocked wells or broken drains and other causes of chronic moisture influx is vital so that you can take preventative steps to keep this moisture out.
A number of affordable basement waterproofing options exist to reduce the workload and wear and tear on your sump pump system.
In most cases, the most effective approach will be interior basement waterproofing combined with crack or fissure repair as needed.
If you have blocked window wells or drains or your existing exterior gutter and drainage system is allowing water to flow back into your basement, making upgrades can effectively route moisture away and reduce your sump system’s workload.
Ensuring your sump pump has a backup
The next vital step is to make sure your sump pump isn’t alone in its efforts to keep your basement sound and dry.
If your sump pump is older, it may be time to talk about an upgrade to a newer, more efficient and powerful model. Installing a sump pump backup system at the same time can ensure you get the most value out of your new sump long term.
Even if your sump pump still has a lot of useful life left in it, installing a backup system will ensure it won’t fail you when you need it most.
Installing a backup system can not only protect your home today from water damage and flooding, but also enhance the resale value of your property when it comes time to sell.
Get a FREE Book on Dry Basement Science
If you have concerns about a continuously running sump pump or basement moisture, we can help.
Contact us for a FREE no-obligation site inspection and written estimate, plus a free copy of our book Dry Basement Science – What to Have Done and Why.
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