Sump Pumps Made Easy
By Jim Sulski
Summary: A Sump pump keeps your basement dry and prevents serious foundation damage. This basic guide explains the function and how to buy and maintain sump pumps.
Sump pumps have been used for many years to keep basement rec rooms and laundry areas dry.
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But sump pumps don't just protect carpeting, furniture, pool tables, paneling, appliances and furnaces from flooding damage. They can also prevent much more serious foundation problems.
When rainwater is absorbed into the ground, it seeps into a basement through cracks in the walls and floor and also along the seam where the walls and floor meet.
The water, of course, then gathers and collects on your basement floor.
Here's how a sump pump system can alleviate that: As rainwater is absorbed into the ground and makes it way to your basement, it is collected by drain tile pipe, a pipe with holes in it. The pipe is buried around the perimeter of your home.
The water runs along the pipe and into a three-foot deep tank on the basement floor called a sump pit. There, the water collects until it reaches a certain height. Then, the sump pump pumps the water out of the house through a discharge pipe.
Spring is a good time to maintain or replace the pump.
Before any steps are taken, be sure to disconnect the pump from its power source.
Then, make sure the inlet opening or pump screen on the pump is clear of debris. The screens are located facing downwards just an inch or two above the bottom of the pit. Checking the screen may require removing the pump.
Second, remove the pump once a year from the pit and give it a good cleaning. Disconnect the pump from power source and then from the piping. Then simply lift the pump out of the pit.
At the same time, give the sump pit a good cleaning. You may even find roots coming in to your sump pit through the drain tile pipe.
And if it happens to be a particular dry year and your sump pump has not been running much, give it a workout. Use a large bucket to fill the sump pit with water and let the sump pump operate.
By the way, having a little standing water in the crock does not have an adverse affect.
Having about six inches of water in the sump pit is a way to keep the pump lubricated.
If your basement still suffers from some flooding problems despite the sump pump, it may be time to replace the pump, said the experts. Depending on the options you choose, a new sump pump can range in cost from $90 to $500.
In addition to purchasing a new sump pump, another good investment is a battery-operated backups sump pump.
During heavy rains, there is more of a risk of a power failure than there is of the sump pump failing mechanically.
Basically, the backups pumps are run by a 12-volt car battery and are mounted above the normal sump pump. If the power goes out and water is rising, they kick in. Backup sump pumps can start at about $300.
© by Jim Sulski. All rights reserved. May 25, 2005, 2005.
NOTE: This column is distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate,
PO Box 366, Glencoe, Illinois, 60022. This column may not be resold, reprinted,
resyndicated or redistributed without written permission from the publisher.
© 2005 by Ilyce R. Glink. Distributed by Real Estate Matters Syndicate.