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Sump Pump 101: Everything You Need to Know

You have heard of sump pumps, but you don’t know much about them. While you’re aware that they’re flood prevention devices, you’re not entirely sure how they work, how to maintain one or when they need to be replaced. All your questions will be answered in this brief session of Sump Pump 101.

Why Do You Need to Think About Sump Pumps Right Now?

The reason why it’s important to learn about your sump pump is that it’s a very helpful flood prevention tool during any time of the year. Summer storms can be intense, sending record-breaking millimetres of rain down onto the GTA, and it can’t just sit there for months.


The rain has to go somewhere. It will seep into the ground surrounding your house, quickly making its way toward the foundation. A sump pump will help you redirect that excess groundwater away from your home, so you don’t walk into the basement and step into a puddle.


Summer and the months following aren’t the only season where having a fully-functioning sump pump can be a blessing. Spring is the prime time for basement flooding because of snowmelt, freshet and frequent showers, so prevent this from occurring now by calling Sewer Squad’s service during the fall for all your sump pump and professional drain replacement needs.


While it’s not as rainy as spring, the fall season can definitely have high levels of precipitation too. Toronto weather statistics show that the city had 84.2 millimetres of rainfall in November, making it a rainier time than spring and summer months like March, May, June and July. So, it’s clear that a sump pump can be useful most months of the year.


What Does a Sump Pump Do?

A sump pump is a flood prevention device that collects the groundwater through the weeping tile system and pumps it into a discharge pipe. During a rainstorm, the weeping tile (also known as the “foundation drain”) will bring some of the water into the sump pit. The water rises in the pit, and after reaching a certain height, the sump pump jumps into action. It pumps water out of the basin and into the discharge pipe, which expels the water at a safe distance from the foundation.


The sump pump doesn’t only work for rainstorms. It can help for other circumstances that create high levels of groundwater, like rapid snowmelt. Any moisture that’s in the ground can build up and pose a risk: sump pumps alleviate this threat by redirecting the water to where it can do no harm to your home.


The plumbing device is always located in a sump pit in the lowest part of the basement. Being close to the ground makes it easier for the water to be directed into the basin and pumped out — directing the water up another level would be much more challenging, energy consuming and risky.


If you’re concerned there may be a problem with any pipe and you’d like professional camera drain inspections to make sure, don’t hesitate to call Sewer Squad.


How Do You Get One Installed?

If you don’t have a sump pump installed, Sewer Squad offers sump pump installation in Toronto and the GTA so that your basement doesn’t succumb to high moisture levels or water damage. Damp areas are hotspots for mould and mildew growth, which can ruin your valuables, diminish your air quality, and negatively affect the health of everyone in the vicinity.


Toronto residents can apply for a subsidy of up to 80% of invoiced costs for a sump pump installation or replacement. The program can also cover the installation of a sump pump alarm and a back-up power source for the device. Look over the requirements for the basement flooding protection subsidy program to see how to apply and save yourself some money.


Older homes may have sump pumps that discharge the water into the sanitary sewer — this is illegal, and it needs to be fixed by a professional right away. If you aren’t sure how your sump pump was set up before you moved in, you should have a 24-hour plumber check on it for you. Sewer Squad is available at all hours, so call your residential drain experts in the GTA for help at any time.


How Do You Test the Sump Pump?

If you already have a sump pump installed and you know it’s not breaking any laws, you need to test-run it at least once a year to check if it works properly. You don’t want to find out that your device needs a repair in the middle of a thunderstorm.


Start by inspecting the basin and the discharge pipe with a flashlight to see if they have any debris inside. Things like gravel or dirt could cause a clog at an inopportune time. Then test your sump pump by pouring buckets of water into the basin until it triggers a reaction.


If you notice that the pump is working slowly or not working at all, you will need to call a professional to take a look at it to see if you need a repair or a replacement. Think about your sump pump’s age and type. A submersible pump will have a lifespan of 5 to 15 years, whereas a pedestal pump can last up to 25 years.


How Do You Avoid Sump Pump Failure?

Having a well-tuned sump pump isn’t enough. You need to take precautionary measures to avoid the all-too-common problem of sump pump failure. The device is in place, but it doesn’t work when you need it to and you still end up with a flooded basement.


Insurance brokers warn that the main reason behind sump pump failures are power outages — since the pump requires electricity, it will be useless when it goes out. A lot of power outages happen during severe storms when you really need your sump pump to be up and running.


The only way to work around this is to install a sump pump backup that will kick in if the electricity ever goes out. The backup plan could be an auxiliary pump that runs on an alternative power source like batteries or water. Or, if you don’t want to get another pump, you can attach your primary device to a backup generator. As long as you have a contingency plan, your basement is bound to stay dry.


Sump pumps are perfect for dealing with water intrusion — they’re not going to be as effective with other types of flooding. You should read our other posts to find tips for dealing with a plumbing emergency like a burst pipe, an overflowing fixture or a sewage back-up. If you don’t know how to react in the moment, you can always call an emergency plumbing service for help.


Don’t let your sump pump sit there and collect grime. If you want it to work through a serious rainstorm and run through an unlucky power outage, you need to give it some extra attention. It could be the one device keeping your basement dry all season long.


Sewer Squad offers zero fees for after hours service so we can help you in the event of an emergency, morning, noon or night. But it’s better to have your system set up properly before the spring thaw begins, so call us if you have any questions or require any assistance with anything involving sump pumps so we can help keep your basement bone dry.

Sump Pump 101: Everything You Need to Know

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