sump pump

Why You Need a Sump Pump

Why You Need a Sump Pump

If you’re like most people, you’ve heard homeowners mention their sump pump even though you don’t really know what it is. Learning what it is and how it can benefit you could save you a lot of money. If you have problems with groundwater running into your home after heavy rains, this might be a good time to learn more about this valuable tool.

What Is a Sump Pump and What Does It Do?

A sump pump is a special kind of pump that is installed underneath your basement floor or crawl space. When there’s a lot of rain, the groundwater might start coming through cracks in the foundation. As a result, you may end up with dampness, mold growth, and damage to your home’s structural materials. With enough water, there could be severe flooding in your basement.

A sump pump is designed to prevent these problems. The pump collects all the excess water and redirects it away from your home. It prevents flooding of the basement or crawl space. Investing in the pump now could end up saving you a lot of money from water damage in the end. That is, if your home is vulnerable to wetness and moisture.

How Is Your House Built?

Houses are either built over a basement, a crawl space, or a concrete slab. A concrete slab serves as a solid foundation with no open space above or below it. Sometimes groundwater makes its way through cracks in the slab. Water from leaky pipes can also come through foundation cracks and pinhole leaks, damaging your flooring and causing mildew and mold growth.

What Is a Concrete Slab?

A concrete slab that is 6 to 8 inches thick is used as a foundation for homes without crawl spaces or basements. A gravel surface underneath provides good drainage. Sometimes piping and electrical wiring run through the concrete slab. Grooves and expansion joints are added to adjust to any cracking that takes place during the curing process.

Floor slabs are the simplest and cheapest type of foundation to build. However, when a leak occurs, it can end up costing a lot to have it repaired. The best type of slab leak repair depends on the source of the water coming into the home.

It’s important to know the signs of a slab leak and request a repair as soon as possible. Slab leaks are the most difficult to repair using traditional methods because the only access is through the flooring. Pipelining is an easier way to repair leaky pipes that run underneath your floor. This process allows plumbers to access and repair the pipe from outside so there is no additional damage.

The first step to prevent damage from slab leaks is to recognize that there’s a problem. The second is to call for slab leak detection services to locate the source of the leak.

The longer you let it go, the more damage it will cause. You can’t avoid this type of water damage altogether with a sump pump. Knowing when there’s a problem is your best defense against water damage.

What Is a Crawl Space?

A crawl space is an open area beneath your home that is usually between one and three feet high. It offers just enough space for someone to crawl in, hence its name. The crawl space helps lift your home off the ground and provides access to electrical wiring, ductwork, HVAC systems, and plumbing.

A crawl space offers several benefits, especially if you live in damp locations or a flood zone. Unlike homes built on concrete slabs, those with a crawl space give you easy access to the guts of the home. They are also better suited to moist areas where a full basement is more prone to flooding.

Another benefit of crawl spaces is that they cost a lot less to install than a full basement. If you don’t really need the additional living space a basement provides, a crawl space is a good alternative. Like a basement, it offers easy access to pipes, wiring, heating & cooling, but it doesn’t provide additional living space.

Sometimes crawl spaces have the opposite effect than expected. Without adequate ventilation, they can allow moisture to move from the ground up into the floor of the house. This moisture can lead to structural damage over time. It also provides a breeding ground for termites, rodents, mold, and mildew. That’s why having a sump pump in your crawl space is a good idea if you have any excess moisture. It redirects the moisture before it can become a problem for your home.

Choosing the type of foundation for your home is easy when you’re building a new construction. In some areas, you are limited to the type of foundation by the local laws and building codes. Some of the factors that should go into the decision are the natural conditions, the frost line, depth of water tables, type of soil, and the overall water drainage.

When purchasing a home that is already built, people sometimes look at crawl spaces or basements as a bonus. They might not be a primary concern, however, making it easy to overlook existing water damage. If you’re buying a home with a crawl space or basement, make sure you have the home inspector examine the space for moisture and signs of water damage.

Another tip for house buying is to talk with the neighbors. If the location is prone to flooding, they’ll know it. It could impact your decision about the type of home to buy and whether you want to live in that area.

It’s always a good idea to have the plumbing checked out by a professional plumber before you buy a house. This is especially true for older homes with existing systems that have surpassed their lifespan. There are affordable options for replacing outdated or damaged pipes without the mess and time investment of excavation. But you don’t want any surprises after you make the purchase. The seller should deduct any necessary repairs from the purchase price.

Should I Buy a House with a Sump Pump?

Few builders install a sump pump as an option, meaning the current or previous homeowner probably had it installed due to a water problem. There might be a recurring problem with excessive rain or snow, or the homeowner might use the pump as insurance against leaky pipes. Again, have the house inspector examine the basement or crawl space for any evidence that there is a problem. If there are cracks in the foundation or basement walls, it might be a reason for concern. The damage might have occurred before the homeowner installed the pump.

How a Sump Pump Works

Sump pumps are small enough to fit into a small pit that’s about 2 feet deep and 18 inches wide. They go in the lowest area of the basement or crawl space. The pit fills with water, either from a drain or the natural seepage of groundwater. As it fills, the pump turns on and moves the water out through pipes that carry it away from your home.

The pipes carrying the water contain a one-way “check valve” that prevents the water from flowing back into the pit. It knows when to turn on in much the same way your toilet tank works. A float activator arm or sensor pressure signals that water is building up. This causes the pump to activate the pumping motion. Once the float falls to a certain level, signaling that the water is no longer there, the pump cuts off.

Some sump pumps work manually. These aren’t as common due to the necessity to turn them on when needed. However, if there aren’t any regular problems with flooding or moisture or the pump is just installed as insurance, a manual pump will serve the purpose. Your home doesn’t have to be vulnerable to flooding or moisture to suddenly run into trouble.

Different Types of Basements

One reason homeowners like basements so much is their versatility. In addition to half and full basements, there are also many differences in the way they’re constructed and used. Some have windows while others don’t. Some have poured concrete walls while others are made with plasterboard. Some homeowners use their unfinished basements for storage space. People sometimes use finished basements as an additional room, a business office, or an apartment.

Regardless of how large a basement is or what is in it, water damage can be expensive. It can damage the structure of the home and features such as carpeting, furniture, and stored materials. Mold can get inside the living portion of the home and cause illnesses. The more severe the problem becomes and the longer moisture is present, the more scope there is for damage.

Early problems might go unnoticed. In basements that aren’t used every day, it’s easy to overlook a moisture problem. Some clues that there is a leak somewhere in your home include funny noises in the pipes, a higher water bill, and buckling of your floor.

Why Basements and Crawl Spaces Flood

Excessive rain and snow are common causes of flooding. Most homeowners know when they are prone to flooding based on the weather in the area. But sometimes a basement or crawl space floods unexpectantly or in dry weather.

Water can seep through walls and cracks in the foundation. It can come from surface water sources like supply pipes and drains, or from storm sewer backup. All water runs downhill, meaning that downhill areas are prone to flooding anytime a source becomes available.

That might seem contradictory, considering that groundwater can cause flooding in these areas too. But sometimes the water that is below the ground’s surface is still higher than the level of the basement or crawl space floor.

Sewer systems are also located in the ground. Although they are usually below the level of the basement and crawlspace, sometimes the water level rises. If the sewer level is higher than the floor when a leak occurs, water can end up in your basement or crawl space. Like water delivery systems in your home, sewage systems deteriorate over time. Not only does this pose a problem to your basement or crawl space; it also contaminates the groundwater.

Do I Need a Sump Pump in My Home?

All homes don’t need a sump pump. If you have wetness or moisture in your basement or crawl space, you do. Groundwater can come in through cracks in the foundation. While the problem might be minor during normal weather, it could turn into flooding during times when the rain is excessive. Sometimes old gutter systems that don’t direct water away from the foundation can lead to flooding too. Sometimes unexpected moisture and flooding occur. If you’re unsure about whether installing a sump pump is a good idea for you, consider the following:

  • If your home has had past water problems, then installing a sump pump is a no-brainer. If it happened before, it’s probably going to happen again.
  • Consider your location. If your house sits on a very flat plot of land or a low-lying plot that is below the water table, you’re prone to flooding. Also, homes with poorly draining soil or those in areas with strong rains or heavy snowfalls are more vulnerable.
  • Consider the potential cost of damages. There’s a reason some homeowners consider a sump pump as a form of insurance. The installation costs range from $275 to $3,500. That’s a lot more affordable than the loss of the contents of your basement and/or the repair costs you’ll have to make to your home.
  • Sump pumps don’t last forever. If you already have one in your home, it might be time to consider a replacement. The average life is for 10 years for a submersible pump and 25 to 30 years for a pedestal style. You don’t want to wait for your existing pump to fail before you buy a new one.
  • A sump pump requires some maintenance. You need to clean the filter trap every 3 or 4 months. You should also test it several times yearly by pouring water into it and seeing if it activates. Also, oil the pump as instructed by the owner’s manual.

Making the decision to install a sump pump in your home is just one way to protect it from water damage. You also need to know the signs of leaks in your water delivery system and drains, as well as how to recognize sewage symptoms. Take care of the problems that cause flooding and water damage before they get worse. Having a sump pump is not a substitute for maintaining dependable plumbing throughout your home.

If you’re experiencing signs of a water leak, contact Best San Diego Leak Detection today. We’ll find the source of the problem and make the repair process as fast, effective, and affordable as possible.

June 19, 2019 Categories: