If you have a basement, you know that being underground means that there is always a risk of flooding. No matter how well a basement is built and sealed, the simple fact that it is below ground level makes it a target for water to pool into it. This will happen more often with older basements that have porous cement walls than those with anti-water penetration protection built in. However, even the best designs suffer over time, and water can be very patient in finding a way in. It’s for this reason that a sump pump is a standard piece of equipment in a basement drainage system. Somehow, that water has to get back outside where it belongs, and a pump system is how that happens.
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The Role of the Sump Pump
When working well, a sump pump will sit and wait until such time that rising water levels trigger it. Alternatively, a homeowner can also activate and turn on a sump pump as needed as well. In either case, the system works by drawing in water from the basement drainage channels and then pumping that water through a line system that puts it back outside, preferably some distance away from the house. This allows the water to drain elsewhere versus coming back inside. Water is always affected by gravity, and any local water presence is going to move through the soil to the lowest point possible. If it can get through the basement walls, then that means it will pool on the basement floor, which will dampen everything inside. The pump’s job is to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The Benefits of a Sump Pump
The key point of the sump pump is to, as mentioned above, remove water. However, doing so, it also protects the foundation from cement corrosion and deterioration. Water can damage cement in a number of ways. Not only does it cause the cement to crumble over time, but it also causes the reinforcement rebar inside to corrode. This in turn makes cement weaker and more susceptible to load shifts, causing cracks. When cement cracks, water gets inside. If it’s cold, and water freezes, it expands, making cracks work and causing more damage. This is how water breaks down rock as solid as granite over time. Cement doesn’t stand a chance without drainage working properly.
Additionally, a sump pump keeps moisture and humidity levels from becoming a big problem in a basement. Basically, anything stored in the chamber will become soaked with humidity due to the presence of sitting water if not removed. That causes mold and mildew to settle in on anything that is fabric, wood or cardboard. It can be incredibly frustrating to find family heirlooms and memories destroyed due to moisture levels in a basement, only discovered years later when it’s too late.
Installation, Repair or Replacement
While there are a lot of do-it-yourself projects available for homeowners, the installation or repair of a sump pump should probably be done by a professional plumber. Aside from having the parts for the job as well as the skill set to avoid mistakes that can be costly later on, a professional plumber provides a level of protection not possible with personal repair. Additionally, if there is later damage, a homeowners insurance policy may not cover work done by a homeowner that is out of code compliance.
It’s just smarter altogether to have sump pump services handled by a professional right from the start. That way, you can focus on what needs to be in the basement and kept safe versus trying to crisis manage from one problem to the next with water below the house.