Many people living in Boston rejoice when it rains instead of snowing in the winter so they do not have to deal with all the problems that come with snow (plowing, shoveling, traffic, etc.). However there are some Bostonian's who wished it had snowed, not because they like skiing but because their basements flooded due to the heavy rains. Inevitably whenever the North East gets a lot of rain in a very short time, basements flood and the most important tool a home owner needs in a basement is a Sump Pump.
The majority of our customers with flooded basements who needed our services to pump out their basements all had Sump Pumps; however those pumps failed to work when they were most needed. A large percentage of these flooded basements could have been prevented. How you ask? With preventative maintenance.
Sump pumps are like clothes dryers and dishwashers they both need periodic maintenance to operate efficiently. It is recommended that in the states where rain and flooding is more prevalent, sump pumps should be tested every few months, while other states that only have periodic flooding, they should be tested twice per year.
Sump pump maintenance:
- After a Heavy Rain - Check the inlet screen for any blockage. This is one of the leading causes of pump failure
- Fill the sump pit up with water to make sure the pump is working.
- Once the pump starts to work, go outside to see if the pump is actually pumping water, or place your hand around the pipe to feel if the water is passing thru it. You must check to see if the pump is actually pumping water because sometimes the pump will turn on but not actually pump anything.
- Make sure that the float controlling the pump is not restricted or getting hung up.
- If the pump has a back-up battery, it should be replaced every second or third year.
Finally if your home does flood due to the malfunction of your sump pump, be aware that your home owner's policy almost always excludes sump pump failure. My advice to you would be to call your insurance broker to see if you can add a sump pump clause to onto your policy. The cost for this is very small compared to the thousands of dollars it might cost you if that pump does fail and you end up with two feet of water in your finished basement.