Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Preventing Flooding Part 2: Installing a Sump Pump

Now that you know how to search for and correct problems dealing with where water originates in your basement, we want to talk about utilizing sump pumps. If water still accumulates in your basement after you’ve addressed drainage problems, sump pumps will need to be included in your drainage strategy.

What to be Aware of Before Installing:

In order for your sump pump to work well, there must be good communication under and around the basement concrete slab.   Most houses today are currently built with crushed stone and perimeter pipe tying into the sump pit that is installed before the basement concrete slab is poured.

French Drain with 2 pipes          
Older homes often have sump pump problems because their basements do not include either open or closed perimeter drains (sometime referred to as “French Drains”).

An open French drain is simply a slot of concrete cutout to the subsoil level around the outside of the basement that routes water to the sump pit for pumping to the outside of the house. 

A closed French drain is designed the same way but may include drilling of the lower wall block to relieve water pressure.  Closed French drains are also effective because they contain corrugated plastic that captures and directs water into the trough slot.  Another non-drainage benefit of the closed French drain system is that it contains possible radon gas.

A basement without the French drain system is prone to poor drainage under the concrete slab. The concrete slabs in older basements generally lack good communication to the sump pit because they are poured directly on top of subsoil.

Photo Credit: Google Images
Setting Up your Sump Pump System:

If you have good drainage to the sump pit, we have a few steps to guide you in setting up your system.  For an emergency backup system to be effective, it requires a consistent setup throughout the system.  

A&E Construction recommends 2 submersible pumps, set at 2 levels with 2 separate discharge pipes and on 2 separate electrical circuits. Setting up your system like this can protect your basement from the many pitfalls that result in sump pump failure.

How this Works:

  • Installing 2 sumps at different levels protects your house against single pump failure and doubles the pumping capacity if flooding should occur.

  • Putting 2 separate discharge pipes protects against possible line blockage from snow, ice or leaves.  These pipes will also increase the water discharge volume by reducing back pressure in the case that flooding occurs and both pumps are running.

  • Plugging each pump into a separate electrical circuit protects your home against electrical failure.  If your pump should fail, you run the risk that it will likely trip the circuit breaker.  Should this happen when your pumps are connected into just one circuit, you will lose both pumps, hence using a separate circuit prevents this.

  • Purchasing a portable electric generator and several long extension cords are key to being able to run your pumps and refrigerator during a power outage.  The massive power outages that were caused by Hurricane Irene were a major cause of sump pump failure. A portable generator is often a better idea than a battery backup system because most battery backup systems don’t have the same longevity or amperage required to pump water for a significant amount of time.

  • Once you install your sump pump, a final recommendation is contacting your home owner’s insurance company and having them add “Backup of Sewer & Drains Rider” to your policy (it’ll cost you approximately $50-$75 more each year).  This added insurance covers your house in the event that electrical power goes out and/or your sump pump fails due to some mechanical failure.  This is an especially good idea that will reduce expenses if you have a finished basement and live in a flood-prone area.

If you have any further questions on protecting your home from basement flooding or sump pump installation, feel free to comment or contact A&E Construction by phone or email.

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