Warmer spring weather is melting all that snow, but with melting snow also comes soggy soil and wet basements. Wet basements are common during spring rain storms and are little more than a minor nuisance for many thanks to their sump pump.
A sump pump is a device that pumps water from the sump in your basement out of your home, either through a hose or your sewer system. The pump can run on either electricity or batteries, and has either an automatic or manual switch for turning it on. There are other varying features your sump pump might have based on the make, model and type if pump.
How does a sump pump work?
Water can seep into your basement through the foundation, especially when the soil surrounding your home is saturated. Your basement sump is designed to collect this water. As water fills the sump, many pumps have a “float switch” or a mechanism which senses the rising water and tells the pump to turn on when water reaches a certain level. Others have switches that require the homeowner turn the pump on manually.
Submersible pumps sit inside the sump and are a common choice because they are out of the way when not in use. A pedestal pump has a motor that sits just above the sump and is more visible. Both kinds of pumps have an impeller, which is a fan-like mechanism on the bottom of the motor that creates the force needed to suck up the water and funnel it through the discharge pipe. The discharge mechanism is made up of a cylindrical tube open at both ends for funneling water into the discharge pipe. The discharge pipe can be made of a number of materials from a copper pipe to a garden hose, however, long-lasting PVC is the most common choice.
Primary or Backup Sump Pump?
Chances are you already have a sump pump in your basement that’s worked well for you in the past during rain and thaws. This is likely your primary pump, a hard-working sump pump run on electricity. This is usually enough for people who live in areas that seldom lose power, but rural homeowners might want to consider investing in a backup sump pump, which runs on batteries, just in case. Heavy rain storms can bring wind, knocking down trees and power lines. The last thing you want is to lose your sump pump during a heavy spring storm. Basements with even just an inch of water can sustain heavy damage from mold and that hard-to-remove musty smell.
What to consider when buying a sump pump?
First, think about the type of pump you want to buy. Will it serve as your primary or backup pump? Do you want a submersible pump that’s out of sight? Do you prefer an automatic float switch or more control with a manual switch?
Next think about buying a pump made of quality materials. Specially engineered PVC, thermoplastic and cast iron are the most durable, although, iron pumps should be baked in epoxy paint to prevent corrosion. Internal parts should also be made of metal, although some makes with plastic parts do get good reviews. Power is another consideration. Any pump with ¼ horsepower (HP) to ½ HP motor should be fine for the average home, although homes in flood-prone areas might want to consider going with a pump with a motor up to 1 HP.
Deciding on a brand is the final choice. This is usually the toughest decision, since most homeowners only buy one to two sump pumps in a lifetime and aren’t sure which brand provides the best quality. There are a number of websites that offer reviews of products and recommendations, including sump pumps by Zoeller, the brand Skillings & Sons prefers. Zoeller’s Might-Mate 50 Series is durable and long-lasting in our experience, as well as moderately priced.
If you have questions about sump pump types and brands, call a Skillings and Sons water technician for more information and if you need a sump pump installed, we are glad to help. Our large trucks are rolling warehouses stocked with everything we need to install a sump pump without having to make additional trips.
Look for a motor between ¼ HP and 1 HP to ensure it can keep up with your water removal demands.
If you suspect water in your basement may become an issue this spring, don't hesitate. Contact Skillings and Sons and speak to one of our technicians. We can recommend the right sump pump for your home.