Basements seem to be a natural catchall. Gravity seems to pull all sorts of unused and obsolete objects into basements. When this clutter is mixed with a few inches of water brought in after heavy rains, two things happen: all the clutter is ruined and even if you prefer that everything stored in your basement would just float away, a sump pump is still a wise investment.
Several inches of water can often cause several thousand dollars in damage to basement structures, fixtures, furnaces, water heaters and appliances. Wet concrete or brick is tough to dry and the resulting mold and mildew can cause health problems.
A sump pump is basically a pump in the lowest part of the basement that will automatically turn on if the basement starts filling with water.
Types of Sump Pumps
Pedestal: an electric pump with a motor a couple feet above the pump so it cannot get wet and a float-activated switch that turns the pump on when the water reaches a certain level.
Submersible: an electric pump installed in ground and designed to work under water. It has the same float-activated switch.
Water-powered: a pump that runs off the water pressure from your home plumbing system with the same float-activated switch. They are normally used as backups because water is handled at a much slower rate. They kick in when the main pump experiences an electrical or mechanical failure.
Installing a sump pump is relatively simple and a good do-it-yourself project, but be certain:
- Water is discharged at least 20 feet from the building.
- Water does not drain back into the house.
- Install a check-valve on the output line so water that is pumped up the pipe does not come back down again when the pump cycles off.
- Many jurisdictions do not permit pumped water into public sewer systems.
- Pumped water should never drain into a septic system.
- Be sure the pump has its own circuit so that it will not overload a shared circuit at a critical time.