Regular rain may be part of what makes the Highland Park area a beautiful place to live, but that rain also puts area homes at risk for flooding. Equipment such as sump pumps can prevent flood damage, but only if it’s in good working order.

Certain sump pump problems can keep the equipment from doing its job, leading to flooding in the basement. Because late spring and early summer bring the heaviest rains and highest risk of flooding, make sure your home’s sump sump is working properly before the weather warms up.

sump pumpHow a Sump Pump Protects Your Home

Sump pump problems leave your whole home open to water damage. Because basements sit below ground, these areas are highly prone to flooding from snow melt and heavy rains. Basement flooding can not only ruin your stored belongings, but it can also damage the very structure of your home.

Moisture in the wood joints and beams can cause rot. This moisture also creates the prefect habitat for mold, which further encourages rot. While it’s possible to clean up after basement flooding, it’s much easier to keep the sump pump in good condition so it can prevent water damage.

A sump pump’s job is to pump out water entering the basement before that water has a chance to accumulate. The pump sits in a sump pit, a gravel-lined hole dug into the lowest area of the floor in your basement or crawl space. This hole is typically around 2 feet deep.

The pump’s float activator arm or pressure sensor detects the presence of water in the pit and automatically turns on the pump so it can send the water out through the discharge line and away from your home. The pump’s check valve prevents water from flowing back into the pit.

Common Sump Pump Problems and Practical Solutions

While some sump pump problems are caused by malfunctions, others occur because the pump being used just isn’t the right one for the job. A plumbing professional can help you determine whether your pump needs repairs or complete replacement

  • Burn out – In a cheaply made pump, the motor is likely to become overworked if faced with anything more than light flooding. The electrical windings short circuit, the motor overheats, sparks and eventually fails or burns out. This can also happen when the float switch malfunctions and causes the pump to run too long.
  • Frequent blown fuses or tripped circuits – A pump that causes either of these problems could have water damage to the electrical cord or be connected to an extension cord or outlet that can’t handle the power demand. A stuck impeller, failed float switch or burned-out motor are other possibilities. For safety reasons, contact a professional if your pump is having electrical problems.
  • Clogged intake – If the water intake area becomes clogged with sludge or debris, the pump can’t suck in water from the pit. Simply removing and cleaning the intake screen can help. Regular professional plumbing maintenance should prevent this problem.
  • Blocked discharge line – Debris or ice blocking the┬áplumbing line will prevent water from draining. The water then backs up into the pump and the basement again. To reduce the risk of back ups, make sure the discharge line doesn’t have more than three 90-degree elbows. If it does, consider consulting a professional plumber to redesign it with 45-degree elbows or another solution.
  • Insufficient power – A pump that’s underpowered or undersized for the amount of water your basement can receive can’t prevent flooding. Keep in mind the pump should be able to handle not just a small amount of water accumulation, but also the rapid flooding that can occur during a storm. The system must be sized to remove flood water faster than it can flow in. If your pump takes more than a minute to remove the water that flows in during a heavy storm, chances are it’s undersized.
  • Lack of backup power – During a severe storm, it’s not uncommon for the power to fail. That means unless your sump pump has a reliable backup power source, it can stop working right when you need it most. To avoid this, look for a sump pump with a heavy-duty, deep cycle battery that automatically switches on when the power goes out.

If you’re having sump pump problems or your sump pump hasn’t been inspected in a year or two, contact the pros at Carefree Comfort, Inc. Heating & Air Conditioning. We proudly serve homeowners in Highland Park and the surrounding areas, including Lakeforest, Wilmette and Lincolnshire.

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