Basement Flooding & Sump Pumps
Basement flooding is a nightmare for any homeowner. Aside from making your basement unusable, a basement flood can ruin your personal belongings and create a serious health and safety hazard.
A sump pump is one of the most important (and most ignored) disaster prevention devices for your home. When this simple system fails, the results can be catastrophic, leading to thousands of dollars in damage, daily disruptions caused by major repair work and higher insurance premiums for years to come. So spending some time and money on avoiding failure makes a lot of sense.
How a Sump Pump Works
When water builds up around the foundation of your home, hydrostatic pressure pushes it through floors and walls. Sump pumps work in conjunction with a pit dug in the lowest part of your basement to redirect water away from the house before it causes damage.
The pump's key regulating part is a float switch that works in a way opposite to those in toilet tanks. Toilet floats cut off when water reaches a certain level; a sump pump's float switch cuts on the pump's motor at a prescribed water level in the pit.
Unfortunately, when the pump is about to fail, you may not get much warning. Usually, the first sign is a flooded basement. Whether it's a failed float switch or a power outage, backup systems and regular maintenance will limit the risk.
Sump Pump Maintenance
Sump pumps are made to be used, so test the pump every few months, especially if there has been a long dry spell. We recommend using a hose or bucket to slowly pour five to ten gallons of water into the pit. If the pump doesn't kick on, have it checked.
Make sure debris can't get into the pump area and clog the works or get tangled in the float. It's a good idea to keep a solid cover over the pit. We've found leaves, socks, balls, and other things blocking pump mechanisms. It doesn't take much to keep the float from rising, so unplug your sump pump periodically and check the bottom for sludge or debris. Make sure the float assembly can move freely.
We've tested dozens of sump pumps and choose sump pumps based on their excellent performance in rain and stormwater. Click here to see some of the sump pumps we recommend for your home.
What to Do if Your Basement Floods
Before you do anything, make sure to shut off any power to the basement, including electricity and gas. Never enter a flooded basement while the power is on. If you aren't sure how to shut these areas off, call a qualified electrician before entering the room.
Determine the source of the water. If a burst pipe is the cause of the flood, shut off the water to the basement. Regardless of the water source, wear boots and gloves for protection. You may also choose to wear a protective mask. Hip or chest waders may also be useful if they are available. Take care when walking and moving around the flooded area since it can be a slipping hazard.
Remember, damp, dark conditions allow mold to flourish, which can pose a serious threat to your health. Use dehumidifiers and fans to move air around, and scrub the walls and floor with bleach or disinfectant.
If you have flood insurance, call your insurance company and report the flood. Confirm your coverage limits, deductible amount, and claim procedures.