Your home’s sump pump is the first line of defence against encroaching water
If you have a wet basement getting the water out or stopping it from coming in is job number one.
Historically, it was mostly rural homeowners who appreciated the value of a sump pump. However, with today’s ever-changing weather patterns, more and more urban homeowners are finding they need more than just a municipal drainage to keep water levels in check during or after a rainstorm, or rapid snowmelt in springtime.
A sump pump removes unwanted water, such as surface or ground water, that leaks into a building. It is normally installed in a pit at the low end of a basement or crawl space floor or in another location where water needs to be removed such as in a boiler pit.
The sump pump, typically connected to an interior or exterior drain tile system, takes water that would otherwise seep into the basement and pumps it outside, leaving the basement dry.
One is not enough
With unusually heavy rainfalls becoming more commonplace, any homeowner who has ever experienced a sump pump failure or power failure during a major thunderstorm will also know the value of a backup sump pump. Because your main sump pump is usually powered by electricity, when the power goes out, the pump stops removing water from your home. That’s why it’s smart to install a back-up sump pump.
Consider the options
There are a number of systems to support an existing sump pump. Each has advantages and drawbacks. The decision over which to use in your home will be driven by your specific plumbing system setup, your water volume needs, and other preferences.
- Battery-powered or AC/DC units will take over when a sump pump has a mechanical failure or during a power outage, continuing to move storm water out of the basement.
A battery backup sump pump is a fairly simple device – a second sump pump that removes water from a sump basin through a discharge pipe to the outdoors. The basic variety is powered by a powerful battery that holds a charge for a long time. When the primary sump pump fails or the power goes out, the backup sump pump kicks on and removes water from the basement.
- Dual-power sump pumps have a battery system but are also plugged into house current. These units can be used as a primary sump pump or a backup system. They are designed to use whichever current is available, defaulting to the house current. When the primary sump pump fails during a power failure, this backup system runs on a robust battery that can often power the sump pump for 24 hours or more.
- A water-powered sump pump uses high pressure municipal water supplied by a dedicated water line and is triggered by a second float switch in the sump pit, positioned higher than that of the primary sump pump. When failure of the primary pump causes the backup to kick on, municipal water begins to flow through a chamber mounted above the sump pit, in some cases on the ceiling.
Using water pressure produced by your home’s incoming water supply lines to pump out water in the sump pit, a water-powered sump pump requires no battery, no electrical power and relies on no moving parts. As long as your home is still receiving water supplied by your municipality, the water-powered sump pump will operate. This type of pump does require specific plumbing requirements including water pressure and flow rate, so it will not be appropriate for all homes.
Any sump pump (regular or back-up) will help remove water from your home and lessen the potential for, and the extent of, water damage to your home and contents.
As a further resource, the Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction has created an information booklet about sump pumps that can be found here.
Whenever you make changes or renovations to your home, be sure to let your Insurance Broker know. Your investment might need a little extra protection—even if you install extra defence measures.