During a heavy rain, or even days, or weeks after the water in and around your homes foundation walls will make its way to the sump well in your basement. This excess water will trip (activate) your sump pumps float and make your sump pump expel water from the collection well. This can cause a pump to run for days. Some homes are situated in such places that the foundation receives a constant supply of ground water. Many exterior factors can also contribute to a constant flow of water to your well making it run nonstop. The main cause though for a sump well flowing constantly is not a failed pump, it is a poorly installed one. Having a professional look at it is best.
If you are uncertain how to check your sump pump it may be best to have an experienced professional do this for you. Although there are a few basic things to check prior to calling a service out to look.
1. Check that the pump is connected to a power outlet. Don’t laugh. This is the most common cause for sump pump failure.
2. Check for pump operation. If you can open enough of the lid to pour water inside do so. It will normally take about 1-3 gallons of water to activate the pump. If after 4 gallons or if the well starts to fill up the pump does not activate call one of our pros to come look.
In a modern home built after 1990 or so most sump pumps will be located in the utilities room of the basement near the HVAC unit and often near an exterior wall. It will look like a black plastic circle on the floor. Pictured below is a typical sump pump well in a modern home. There are often a few drainage pipes and a discharge pipe exiting the pump. Take care in not disconnecting these.
A good quality (non builder grade) pump can last over 10 years. While a small percentage of lower quality pumps are damaged during installation. Actually most pump problems are due to improper installation. Pumps are often damaged due to discharge lines being blocked by either ice or other obstructions including earth, mulch, rodents. Often yard workers damage pump discharges doing their work. All said, average pumps normally last 1-10 years. the norm being around 3 years. Our installations at Basement Detective, of course, have a very high success rate. Call us to get a free inspection and get a quote.
If you pump is operating correctly and you still have water in your basement, then there is probably another, or a few other things going on. It is not uncommon for certain drain system to not allow a full collection during certain seasons or after heavy rains. Best to call us and have us take a look.
Fairfax county requires sump pump discharges to be at least 10 ft. from the house. If there is adequate slop away from the house this is fine if not, a little further may be more beneficial. Although if the building has an adequate drainage either inside or outside that can handle the flow of water the discharge make much less of a difference. Slope from the home is always ideal, but most of the time is just simply not possible. This is where intelligent water management design is key. It can prevent a disaster. Call us to find out what can be done for your property.
The advantage of the higher horsepower have to do with how fast and how hard the system needs to expel water. Many service companies will try to sell (at a higher cost) a 1/2 horsepower pump as an upgrade to the commonly used 1/3 horsepower pump. The thinking is the bigger the better. The problem is negative to a larger pump is higher failure rate, more noise, more vibration to loosen discharge pipes, and higher cost. Considering this it is almost always advisable to have a 1/3 hp pump. Unless of course you have a serious flow of water to manage. If this is the case then the actual drainage and water management system should be inspected for performance to see if it can be more efficient. Call us to see what is best for your home.
Ask a Basement Detective how you can protect your basement from flood or water damage.