Jul 23, 2018
While Northern Virginia residents are no strangers to wet summer weather (the total recorded precipitation for July 2017 was over 9 inches of rainfall
), recent thunderstorms and flash flood warnings have a lot of homeowners wondering how they can prepare their homes to handle the rain.
The number-one concern when it comes to heavy rainfall, especially in the summer during hurricane season
, is flooding. Luckily, many homes in the DMV are equipped with a sump pump, a machine designed to prevent flooding in basements and crawl spaces. With a functioning sump pump, homeowners have peace of mind knowing they won't wake up to find that nighttime storms left them with a flooded, water-damaged house.
The key is making sure your sump pump is up to the task — because a broken sump pump won’t do you any good when a storm hits your neighborhood. Let’s explore how sump pumps work, why you should have one installed in your home, and signs that indicate your sump pump may need to be repaired or replaced.
How does a sump pump work?
Sump pumps help prevent flooding by removing water that has made its way to the basement or crawl space of your home. A sump pump
typically consists of the following parts:
- Basin or Pit
- Float Valve
- Centrifugal Pump
- Return Pipe
- Check Valve
When a heavy storm comes along, water begins to seep into the foundation of your home. As water flows into the sump pump basin, it raises the float valve, which activates the motor. The motor turns an impeller that forces the water to drain out of a pipe that leads the water away from your home. The check valve then ensures that the water can’t flow back up the pipe and into your basement or crawl space.
Why do I need a sump pump?
By preventing flooding, a sump pump can defend your home against water damage to drywall and wooden beams, protect metal appliances from corrosion, and deter molds, mildew, and pest infestation.
The following factors
can help you determine whether or not to install a sump pump in your home:
Previous flooding. If your basement or crawl space has flooded in the past, you should consider installing a sump pump to prevent more damage to your home.
Location. Your basement is more likely to flood if your house is located on flat land with little drainage or on a plot of land below the local water table.
Finished basement/storage. If you have a finished basement or use your basement or crawl spaces for storage, a sump pump can protect your belongings from water damage.
Signs your sump pump needs to be replaced
Even with proper maintenance and cleaning, sump pumps don’t last forever and eventually need to be replaced. The following signs might indicate a sump pump failure
Strange noises/vibration. When your pump draws in hard debris, the impeller can get damaged or jammed, causing the machine to shake. Excessive noise or rattling could indicate more serious issues with the motor that should be inspected as quickly as possible.
Infrequent use. It may seem contradictory, but the shelf life of your sump pump is actually reduced when you use it less frequently. Sump pumps only last around seven years to begin with, even less if it’s rarely used. You should test your sump pump in between heavy rains to make sure it’s working properly.
To test your sump pump, remove the cover and pour a couple of gallons of water into the basin — automatic pumps will activate immediately. Someone else should watch the return pipe to make sure water is actually flowing away from your home.
You’ll know your pump is working correctly if it automatically engages, drains the basin, and then disengages.
Runs continuously. If your sump pump runs all the time and you can’t seem to identify the cause of the problem, it could be that your device is unable to handle the water load, which can cause the pump to fail during heavy storms.
Irregular cycling. If your sump pump turns on and off for seemingly no reason, your float switch may be incorrectly adjusted, causing the pump to turn on even when there are only a few inches of water in the basin. Another cause of irregular cycling could be a wiring malfunction.
Protect your home from water damage
Stormy weather may be gloomy, but it doesn’t have to be stressful. Make sure your sump pump
is ready to take on the rain. Call CroppMetcalfe at 1-877-740-6657 or contact us online
today to schedule an appointment with one of our expert Northern Virginia plumbers