Photo By Akchamczuk at istock
Water always pools at the lowest accessible space. Many people have discovered their basements are a very common location for excess water. Up to 98% of basements in the US experience water damage at some point. Flooded basements are a common household problem, but flooding is not unavoidable.
Sump pumps are designed to prevent flooding in an area by removing water. Most sump pump systems include a small pit in the lowest part of the basement because water naturally flows towards the lowest point. The pump itself sits in the pit and pumps water out of the basement through a pipe leading outside of the home.
Sump Pumps in Texas
Homes in Arlington, TX are at the highest risk of flooding during March, April, and May. Soil is often saturated with moisture during spring, and temperature fluctuations in late winter and early spring create large amounts of pooling water. There is a risk of flooding in summer months too. Saturated soil can not absorb rainfall, but extremely dry soil can also repel water. Heavy downpours during hot summer months can quickly overwhelm drains.
A sump pump is a quiet appliance that often goes completely unnoticed, as long as it works correctly. Sump pumps attract attention fast when they malfunction. Call a plumber immediately if your sump pump malfunctions while water is entering the basement.
Common terms for sump pumps include a basin, pit, or crock. They work by collecting groundwater. A tank contains a float that travels up a float rod when water reaches a certain level. The float activates a switch to turn the pump motor on. The motor removes water from the tank and discharges it away from the home.
Submersible sump pumps are the most common type. They’re installed while the home is constructed. A non-submersible sump pump, or pedestal, contains a motor and a hose. The motor is installed above the basement floor. The hose connects to the motor before being routed into the sump pump’s tank. Non-submersible pumps can be installed by a professional plumber at any time.
It is a good idea to have a plumber evaluate drainage from the sump pump to make sure it actually diverts water away from the home. It does no good to pump water out of the basement just so it can seep back in again, and yards need to have sufficient drainage to handle the water without becoming soggy and muddy.
Sump Pump Benefits
The major benefit of a sump pump is flood prevention. Heavy rain can lead to water accumulation around a home’s foundation. The sump pump keeps that water out of the basement. Sump pumps are also helpful if a burst pipe occurs.
Standard basement drains are not always capable of draining large amounts of water fast enough to prevent damage, but the sump helps push excess water from the broken pipe out of the home. Always call a plumber immediately when a pipe bursts. Sump pumps buy time, but broken pipes need to be fixed as soon as possible.
Mold and mildew need a moist environment to grow, and standing water provides that environment. Mold has many negative effects on health, and it can eventually harm the house itself. Sump pumps reduce standing water and help keep basements dry. Removing excess water in the basement reduces dampness and humidity throughout the entire home
It may sound contradictory, but systems meant to prevent flooding can also prevent fires. Flooding is a common cause of electrical fires in residential buildings. Water makes its way into every nook and cranny as it fills an enclosed space. This means water in your basement will reach electrical outlets and wiring if it reaches a certain height. Water can cause short circuits or fires in electrical systems. Hire a plumber to install sump pumps and assess your home’s overall plumbing system to identify potential hazards and reduce risk of electrical fires.
A sump pump in Arlington, TX can last 15 to 30 years with proper care and maintenance. Some maintenance tasks should be done every spring. Remove the cover and check the tank for mud, rocks, gravel, and other debris. Flush the system with water from a hose or bucket to clear old debris. Listen for strange sounds when you turn the pump on. It should run smoothly and quietly. Call a plumber if the pump is noisy. Noise means parts could be worn out or damaged.
Watch the float as water fills the tank. The float should travel up and down the float rod freely. Inspect the discharge pipe before heavy rainfall. Makes ure
The discharge hose is clear of debris. Common types of debris found in sump pump hoses include mulch, mud, rodent nests, stones, and gravel. Inspect the check valve and make sure the relief hole in the pipe is clear. A professional plumber can conduct maintenance checks for you and perform necessary repairs.
Some basic maintenance checks every Arlington, TX homeowner should be performed every 2 to 3 months and after heavy storms. Look for worn out parts including frayed cords or cracks in the case. Test your sump pump by filling the pit with water. The pump should activate immediately when the float reaches the appropriate height on the float rod. Consider your sump pump an essential home appliance and consult a plumber for routine maintenance to keep your home’s plumbing system running smoothly.
You need to find the problem if the pump motor is not activated. Make sure the pump is plugged into a proper outlet and test the outlet to ensure it has power. If everything seems to be in working order except the pump itself, it is time to call a plumber.
Clean the grate or screen at the bottom of your sump pump regularly. The screen collects dirt and debris over time. Debris such as stones and gravel can be pulled into a pump’s motor and destroy the appliance. Make sure the drains for pushing water out of the home are clear, and check the outside opening for blockages.
Consult a professional plumber if the sump pump shuts down and can not be reset with the circuit breaker. Other problems that need professional services include slow drainage after drains are cleared and cracks along the base or cover. Plastic sump pump walls are more prone to cracks and holes than more durable materials. Stainless steel and cast iron pumps and reservoirs generally last longer and stand up to more rigorous conditions than plastic.
Common Sump Pump Problems
Sometimes a sump pump is simply overwhelmed. The amount of water entering the basement may be too much for a single unit, or the pump model may not have sufficient power and capabilities. Pumps that are not powerful enough for conditions can not keep up with incoming water or burn up trying to handle excessive volume.
Consult a plumber to determine the best solution if your pump can not keep up with incoming water. Possible solutions include installing a better pump or adding an additional pump with a battery backup for periods of heavy rainfall.
A sump pump with a battery backup is a good idea in any household. Storms with heavy rainfall and high winds may cause power outages. A sump pump without power is useless, and it is more likely to be useless at the same time it is most needed. A battery powered pump functions during power outages.
Working Pump with Empty Sump Pit
Most sump pits have a gravel base approximately 2 feet deep and 18 inches wide. A working pump with no water entering the sump pit is a common sign of poor installation. The sump pump is installed, but it is not linked to a drainage system. A sump pump can not work correctly without an external or internal drain tile along the perimeter of the basement.
Drain tiles, or drainage piping, is installed around the basement perimeter at a level just below the concrete slab or below the gravel in a crawlspace. Water percolates along a home’s walls during rainfall and pools around the foundation. Ground water causes percolation too if the water table is high enough.
The drain tiles collect standing water around the foundation and gravity pulls the water into the sump pump. The system does not work if drain tiles are not installed at a proper pitch to channel water into the pit. A clogged or collapsed drain tile also makes it impossible for a sump pump to function correctly. It is always a good idea to hire a plumber to install drain tiles and sump pumps because mistakes can lead to flooding and water damage.
Clogged Pumps and Drainage
Sump pumps with cracked, broken covers, and pumps with no cover at all, often collect dirt and debris. A sump pump sitting against the bottom of a dirty pit is also likely to collect debris. The pump motor can stop functioning or burn out if it is clogged with dirt. Debris can also jam the float switch so the pump does not activate or shut down correctly.
Call a plumber if you suspect debris is interfering with your pump. Frozen or clogged discharge lines cause backflow, so the water simply falls right back into the basement instead of being discharged outside. A cover at the end of the discharge line protects the system from debris.
Sump pumps are not intended to run continuously in any season or weather conditions. Continuous use wears out the motor and shortens the life of the appliance. Possible causes of non-stop operation include a stuck switch, a liner that is too big or too small, and missing or broken check valves.
Many sump pump mechanical failures occur in the switch that turns the pump on and off. Constant activation and deactivation during heavy rains or spring flaws put a lot of stress on pump switches. Switch cycle life refers to the number of times a switch activates and deactivates the motor before wearing out.
Sump pumps with small basins are at risk of wearing out switches too quickly. A 5-gallon basin fills up fast during heavy rainfall, and the switch is constantly turned on and off. Installing a larger basin and upgrading your sump pump is not simple. A plumber enlarges the hole in the basement and installs a more powerful unit. This is a significant investment, but the alternative may be frequent pump replacements and malfunctions. Water damage can occur when a pump malfunction is not noticed immediately.
Many homes do not have sump pumps, and homeowners may not know if they need a pump or not. Look for signs of water damage in your basement. Ask neighbors or previous owners about basement or crawl space flooding if you move into a new property. Local plumbers are also a good source of information, and they can provide valuable advice to prevent water damage in the future.
Pump motors are available with varying levels of horsepower, and some pumps are constructed with stainless steel motor housings.
Several manufacturers use an electronic actuator switch that tends to last longer than standard switches. Many homeowners do not have the necessary experience to choose an appropriate sump type and model for their homes and local conditions. Consult a professional plumber to help you choose sump pump models to meet your needs within your preferred price range.
Call your local plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Arlington, TX to install a new sump pump. Sump pumps need access to a dependable power source. Improper installation interferes with proper function and could prevent the pump from fulfilling its purpose. Plumbers have the necessary tools, education, and experience to install a sump pump that is compatible with the rest of your home’s plumbing and electrical infrastructure.