Basement Flooding and Sump Pumps

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When storms or long periods of rain arrive homeowners all hold their breath and hope the water doesn’t fill their basement. After months of enduring bitter cold and snow, things finally start to warm up. Rain showers wash away the filth that had been covered by layers of ice and snow. However, with that rain comes a new set of problems. Flooding basements. A flooded basement is a major problem and can be a very costly one too. Here are the issues and some ways to solve them.

Here are the major issues involved in a basement flooding:

Carpeting: Once a carpet is soaked with water there’s not much of chance in saving it. The carpet pad that is under the carpet itself acts as a giant sponge retaining all the water that it comes in contact with. Getting that water out is next to impossible but can sometimes be done. Time is of the essence with a flooded basement. Use a carpet cleaning machine. Use fans or even better an air movers for floors to get them as dry as possible as quickly as possible. You also would want to have dehumidifiers running to get the water out of the air. Vacuum the area with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter on it. These filters will trap the mold particles and not allow them to be expelled into the air causing respiratory issues.

Mold: If left wet mold will form fairly quickly in your carpeting, walls, insulation and just about any other surface. If mold has already formed you have two options. The first option is to remove the material that has the mold on it and disposes of it. The second option is cleaning it with bleach or TSP. Why are molds a concern? Damage to materials is one concern. Materials get stained or discolored, and over time they are ruined. Moldy paper and cardboard disintegrate over time. Fabrics are damaged. Continued mold growth can be indicative of moisture conditions favorable for the growth of fungi that cause wood rot and structural damage. When molds are growing inside the home, there may be health concerns. Molds release chemicals and spores. Health experts indicate that, depending on the type of mold present in a home, the amount and degree of exposure, and the health condition of the occupant, the health effects of mold can range from being insignificant to causing allergic reactions and illness. Pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with health problems, such as respiratory disease or a weakened immune system, are more at risk when exposed to mold. Consult your family physician if you believe there is someone who may be at risk.

Drywall: If mold has formed on your drywall you need to know whether it’s simply on the surface of the paint or if the drywall itself is moldy. If it’s on the surface use a TSP (tri-sodium-phosphate) cleaner to remove the mold from the surface. Be careful not to get the surface too wet or you will just add to the problem. If the drywall itself is embedded with mold the only option is removal. Make sure that if there is insulation behind the drywall that it is also removed.

Appliances: Make sure first of all that power is shut to an affected appliance so as to not kill yourself unnecessarily. If an appliance gets wet unplug it and let it completely dry out. An appliance that has gotten wet may be saved (probably with a shortened life) but extreme caution must be taken. Most electronic appliances such as T.V.’s, stereos, microwaves, etc are probably a lost cause and aren’t worth the risk of electrocution. Major appliances such as furnaces, washers, and dryers should be checked out by a professional.

So what can be done to prevent this from happening?

As with most things preventative measures are the best way to solve a problem. Here are some measures that can be taken to prevent a flooded basement.

Down Spouts: A simple and inexpensive step is to make sure that your gutter downspouts are carrying the water from your roof far enough away from your house. Extend spouts that are too short and make sure the water doesn’t have an opportunity to run back toward the house.

Excavation: Make sure that your landscaping and excavation around your house slopes away from your foundation. Backfill with dirt and cover with a landscape rock or mulch.

Repair and patch all cracks and chips in the foundation with hydraulic cement. Make sure all windows and doors are sealed properly and are not leaking.

Sump Pumps: All the methods above should help to prevent the water from entering the basement but in some cases, this just can’t be avoided. A sump pump gives you peace of mind that if by chance water does manage to make it into the basement there is something there to bail you out.

Sump Pumps

When it comes to sump pumps there are a few things that you need to consider.

1) How far and how high does the water need to be pumped? Knowing this will tell you what horsepower sump pump you will need to buy. Yes, it does matter.

2) How many gallons per hour does the unit need to move? In other words how bad and how often does your basement flood?

3) Do you already have a sump pump?

4) Do you need a battery back up sump pump (a secondary pump that will activate if the first one dies)? In other words, if the power fails during a heavy storm will it be you with a bucket emptying your basement? Note: Battery back up units need to be tested to make sure that the batteries are not dead. Also, battery units will only last about 7 hours (constantly running) when fully charged. Another option would be to install a Liberty Sump Jet water powered back-up pump. This unit works on your city water supply and takes no electricity to run. It is a very safe back up unit that will not die halfway through a storm.

5) Once you have determined what sump or pumps that you need you will need to make sure that it is piped properly away from the house. In other words, are you going to see the same water back in your basement? It should NOT be emptied into a floor drain or laundry tub. It should be piped outside of the house with PVC piping and then away from the house with either PVC, ABS, or flexible sump pump hosing.

6) The last thing you need to make sure that you have is a sump pump check valve on your sump pump line. This will prevent water that the sump pump is expelling from draining back down the vertical line and back into your sump basket. If you find that your sump pump is running constantly without much rain then most likely the check valve is the issue. Either you don’t have one or it has failed for some reason.

To have a licensed professional plumber install your sump pump contact us at (207) 747-1210 to make sure your pump is ready to run when you need it most.

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