Avoiding the "Sad Song" of Costly Water Damage – With a Simple Sump Pump
Every spring, it seems, more homeowners are caught off guard when the snow melts and the rains begin. Recently, many Calgary residents discovered how quickly a basement can flood, and how costly that can be.
Why are homeowners caught by surprise? Maybe it´s easy to get lulled into a kind of "it won´t happen to me" denial. But as the song lyric goes, "denial ain´t just a river in Egypt." In fact, water damage is a "river" that sooner or later affects almost everyone. Experts estimate that up to 95% of all basements will at some point experience some kind of water problem. And most don´t realize that as little as one inch of rainfall can very quickly translate into 1,000 gallons of water coming off of your roof. A river indeed!
As sobering as this is, it´s even more sobering to realize that water in a basement has many different and very costly ways of wreaking havoc. (Another lyric, paraphrased, comes to mind: "How do I cost thee? Let me count the ways.") Even an inch of water can quickly cause thousands of dollars in damage repair to carpet, furniture, and electronics – and that is just the beginning!
Water can also damage the drywall and framing, affect electrical and plumbing systems, cause metal appliances to rust, and even seep into and weaken the foundation. Moisture can condense inside the walls, and excessive moisture can lead to fungus, mold, mildew, which can trigger allergies and other health problems. This kind of seepage may even lead to termite and insect infestation. And finally, if problems like these linger, they can significantly reduce the value of the home. (When a prospective buyer is touring your home, the smell of a musty basement can trigger an inspection which could cost thousands at closing.)
Fortunately, the sad song of water damage can be simply prevented – by the lowly sump pump. Basically, sump pumps work by pumping water out from the lowest point in the basement (before it can rise any higher), and pumping it through a pipe to a point well away from the house, or even into the city sewer supply.
Because different types of homes have different needs, there are different kinds of sump pumps for various situations. For those on a tight budget, there are inexpensive pedestal sump pumps, which stand upright a few feet above the water. Or one can purchase a submersible pump, designed to work underwater, which is a little more expensive but also quieter. Both of these are electric-powered pumps.
There are also water-powered pumps which run off the water pressure from the plumbing system in your home, and require no electricity to operate. Even if your power goes out in a storm, the water-powered pump will still operate. And since it uses no electricity, it´s better for the environment.
All of these sump pumps require a sump pit or tank where the water collects below the lowest point in the basement. When the water rises to a certain point, a float mechanism automatically turns the pump on, so that it can pump the water out before it does any damage. But what if your basement can´t accommodate a sump pit? Then you might want a Floor Sucker Pump, which removes water to within 1/8" of the floor.
Your plumber can help you decide which sump pump is right for your situation. But the important thing is to get ready now, so that when the next storm hits – and you hear the satisfying hum of your sump pump coming on – you´ll be "singing in the rain."