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A Sump Pump Primer

Basements are target zero for water damage and flooding, primarily due to their low lying location and the fact that water loves to run downhill. Wouldn’t it be ideal if there were a way to anticipate the threat of flooding and channel the water out and away from your home before any major damage could be done? The good news is that there is….it’s called a sump pump and it is a common fixture in basements across the country.

A sump pump is designed to keep the space beneath your basement and the basement itself free from flooding during severe weather or other events that may trigger flooding. The sump is another name for the small reservoir under the basement that is meant to fill whenever groundwater levels rise, as opposed to allowing the water to flow into the basement and cause the water damage you are trying so desperately to avoid. A sump pump moves the water, forcing it up to ground level, ideally far enough away from your house in order to drain properly and pose no further threat to the home.

Sump pumps are commonly found in homes built in wet climates, and are designed to collect water that is building up as the result of torrential rains or other excessive water problems, not to mention the water that may be rising up from a saturated ground supply. The installation of a sump pump ensures that wherever the water comes from the basement will remain dry and sound. Remember that standing water has the ability to become more than a nuisance, even going so far as to affect the integrity of the foundation.

Sump pumps come in two main variations. The submersible sump pump combines the pump and the waterproof motor in one unit designed to fit inside the pump, allowing it to get wet without risk of damage.  The pedestal pump perches the motor on top of a column that is kept above projected water levels, since the motor is not meant to get wet.  Both models connect to an outlet pipe that carries the water to a distance of at least 20 feet from the house, preferably to a location from which it can drain. Capacities are related directly to the strength of the motor, as well as the size of the pipe.

Most sump pump models are run by electricity, although there are some battery powered versions. In almost every case, back up systems run on batteries, in the event that a storm knocks out the power.  Sump pump operation is triggered by the floater, similar to the one found in the works of a toilet. As the water rises above the critical level, the floater rises and flips a switch that starts the unit running. Many issues and problems with sump pumps may be corrected by simply unjamming or replacing the floater device.


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