Basements are a staple in homes across the Chicagoland area, including in the Western suburb of Naperville. The high water table of the region - due to its proximity to Lake Michigan and various rivers - means that keeping water out of the basement is a priority for any homeowner. So what's the most practical strategy on this front?
Start with the sump pump. This machine ensures that accumulated water is safely removed from your basement. Here's what you should consider before, during and after setting up your sump pump:
Can the sump pump keep up?
Sump pumps come in a variety of sizes. The most important question you must ask yourself before choosing a pumps is this: will it pump water away fast enough to prevent a flood? If you seem to have a lot of ground water or your lot is in a low area where water accumulates, we recommend going with one of the more powerful ¾ horsepower pumps. You’ll notice that sump pumps typically come in ¼ hp, ⅓ hp, ½ hp and ¾ hp sizes. If you have any doubts whatsoever, go with a more powerful pump. But don’t go by horsepower alone. Check the pump’s GPH rating. You’ll notice a gallons per hour rating on the box. This refers to how many gallons per hour the pump is capable of removing from your sump crock. Never go with a lower GPH rating than the pump you are replacing. And if you felt your old pump struggled to keep up, go with a higher GPH when you replace your sump pump.
Other specifications to consider include what kind of switch it has (mechanical is preferable to pressure) and a vertical float switch is better than a free floating switch because they are less likely to get hung up on something that will prevent them from floating and turning on the pump. And you also will have a choice of going with a submersible or pedestal pump. We think submersible pumps are better because they are quieter and you’ll be able to cover the sump pit with a lid).
Does it have a backup?
A power outage during a storm could compromise your sump pump's performance. For this reason, we recommend having a battery-powered backup sump pump installed alongside your primary sump pump. The battery backup pump will turn on if the primary pump fails or during a power outage when there is no electricity to power the main sump pump. A marine grade boat / car battery provides power, usually up to 12 hours, depending on how often the pump needs to run to prevent flooding. Other options include a water pressure-based (venturi pump) system for removing excess water when the primary pump is down. These use the water pressure in your home to force water from your sump pit. These should only be used as a backup system because they’ll cause your water bill to explode if you try to rely on a venturi setup as your primary sump pump.
What maintenance should I perform?
Sump pumps need to be regularly tested. Tests can be conducted by pouring bucketfuls of water into the pit and checking that the pump promptly turns itself on, pumps out most of the water then turns itself off again. Also be sure to remove debris from the pit and to monitor the discharge line for any obstructions.
A licensed plumber can help you at any stage of a sump pump's lifecycle, from installation to long-term maintenance. Don't hesitate to call if you have any issues or questions about your basement sump pump.