In our weekly meetings, our inspectors and crew have stories about the various fix it jobs they see in the course of their work. This is one of them and is a good summary of what many of the homemade sump pumps we see look like. Homeowners, or a handyman, will pick up a sump pump with very little knowledge of how to install them properly or how they work. It is not for lack of trying but primarily lack of education, experience or tools to do the job properly. That causes these sump pumps to not function optimally. Here are a few tips to remember that make a huge difference in the function and effectiveness of your sump pump.
- Sump pumps should be at the lowest spot in the crawlspace or basement and should be below grade so that water can get into the crawlspace. Many people do not put the sump pump low enough in the ground to be truly effective because they do not want to deal with digging out the sump pump pit. This prevents you from catching the majority of the water (as evidenced in the caked dirt and mud on the sides of the bucket in this picture.
- It should be able to pump water out easily and far enough away from your home not to re-enter. If you have a discharge line from your pump out the window and no further, the water is just going to re-enter the space again.
- Pay attention to the Pumping Volume of your sump pump. There is a rating referred to as GPH- (Gallons per Hour) this number tells you how much water you can pump out of your crawl space per hour. Think about your needs. If you get a pump that is too oversized for your needs, the pump will wear out faster due to it running in constant short cycles.
- Does your sump pump have a battery back up? When your sump pump is really running full bore it is likely due to flooding in your crawlspace and inclement weather outside. In floods, power often goes out. A power outage will mean that your sump pump will not work when you need it most. Having a battery will keep your sump pump working and your space dry even in the worst weather.
- Have your current sump pump and drainage system inspected by a waterproofing professional. Most offer free inspections and estimates for repair or replacement if absolutely needed.
Each year we face flooded homes and basements and each year gets worse. Make sure that your sump pump is ready for the rains.