Backup Sump Pump Systems Can Prevent basement Flooding
As a home inspector one area I often comment on is the sump pump. I often observe sump pumps that are very old and probably well past their service life. Most sump pumps are observed without a battery backup systems that is also a recommendation made to the buyer. Sump pumps are something that most people don't think about until after their basement floods. When water accumulates in the sump pump basin (hole) the sump pump removes the water out to prevent it from overflowing and flooding the basement with water. While most homes with basements have sump pumps many do not. If your home has a sump basin it is critical to make sure this piece of equipment is working properly.
Sump pumps fail for several reasons. One reason is the pump fails and the motor burns out. If your sump pump is older and has had years of use it may be worth replacing in order to prevent it from failing when you need it most. Like any piece of equipment sump pumps have a life span that requires they be replaced. Replacing it before it fails is the key to prevent your basement from having water issues. Just because an old sump pump is working great today doesn't mean it might not fail tomorrow.
They also fail from a power outage. Sump pumps often fail during a storm when really needed. When a storm occurs and the power goes out your sump pump running on electricity will no longer pump water out of the sump pump basin. An electric sump pump motor needs electricity to operate. If that happens and you don't have a battery backup system your basement floods.
Battery backup systems run off battery power up to 24 hours and don't need electricity. They are a separate pump from your main pump and work independently from it. The battery backup system constantly charges and is ready when needed. When the power goes out these pumps are ready to operate and begin working automatically. They cost several hundred dollars, which is a small price to pay to prevent an expensive basement flood. A battery backup system can easily be installed as a do it yourself project by a homeowner.
Another common area where problems are observed relating to sump pumps are the water discharges on the sump pumps. When the water is discharged to the outside it should be directed well away from the house. Water discharge pipes should have back flow prevention so that water that is sent through the pipe and does not reach the outside does not flow back into the sump basing to have to be discharged again. Sump pump discharge pipes often leak and these can be areas where damage can occur to building materials and mold can grow. These are also important areas to check.
At Dairyland Home Inspection sump pumps are just one of the many items we inspect during a home inspection. We serve Racine, Kenosha, Milwaukee, Waukesha, and Walworth Counties.
Bob Carter is a home inspector in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin. He is the owner of Dairyland Home Inspection.