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Understanding Sump Pumps and Flood Prevention

With record rainfall and intense weather systems descending on British Columbia this month, water drainage and flood prevention are top of mind.

Many Vancouver residences are suffering from inadequate drainage and basement flooding. So, in anticipation of more intense weather systems to come this winter, it’s well worth your time to get educated and install a working, up-to-date flood prevention system – especially if your home has a basement. 

Read on to learn all about sump pumps, how they work, and why it is one of the most effective ways to prevent flooding in your home. 

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a pump, commonly installed in the basement, crawl space, or lowest point of your home 

A “sump” is a naturally constructed pit, usually carved below the surface of the basement floor. It’s also commonly known as an infiltration basin and used to manage water run-off. Water naturally flows into this gully through drains or natural water migration, and the sump pump is placed in here to extract excess water away from your property to a designated drainage area. 

Sump pumps are incredibly useful in areas where basement flooding happens regularly, or where the water table is above the foundation of a home. 

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

A sump pump works to remove excess water to protect your home from heavy rains and rising waters that can flood your space. While there are manually operated sump pumps, most people prefer the automation of a float switch. 

Most of the time, the sump pump will be dormant, or on standby. During periods of heavy rainfall, spring melt, or other conditions that cause the water table to rise and ground flow to increase, the soil around your home can become over saturated. In these conditions, excess water flows towards the sump pit and fills it with water. As the water level rises, it flips a switch and activates the sump pump to begin removing water from the pit and draining it to a nearby storm drain, dry well, or detention pond. Once enough water has been removed and the water level drops back down, the pump shuts off. 

A sump pump is an effective, automated system to keep water from rising to the level of your basement or ground level floor, preventing huge repair costs and structural damage that can result from groundwater flooding.

Strengthen your Flood Prevention System with Battery Backup 

The most common reason sump pumps fail is due to a power outage. Heavy rainfall is often accompanied by prevailing winds and intense storm systems that can interrupt your power source. If you live in a high-risk area where flooding potential is high, a battery backup system is a great idea! 

A sump pump battery back-up consists of a battery, a battery powered pump, a charger and additional piping. In conditions where the primary pump fails, the battery powered pump will take over and continue to discharge excess water from your home. If you live in a high-risk area or flood plain, you could seek out more intensive backup with water powered backup or a generator. 

A sump pump battery will stay charged until it’s needed, and you may never actually need it; however, this extra backup system can provide insurance and peace of mind, letting you know that your home is protected if water levels rise and a power outage occurs while you’re on vacation or fast asleep.  

Prevent Groundwater Flooding with Good Sump Pump Maintenance 

It’s best to keep your flood prevention system dialed and in good working condition, especially during storm season in the Lower Mainland. As with all systems and appliances in your home, a sump pump needs regular maintenance to keep it functioning well. 

You can optimize your sump pump’s functioning with these few small tips: 

  • Understand your unit (age, where to get replacement parts, and existing issues).
  • Check in periodically to ensure it’s still working, and watch for things like rattling, grinding or other strange noises, a vibrating motor, oil leakages, or if your pump is turning on and off at random intervals or constantly running.
  • Clean the sump pump regularly to increase its efficiency and extend its lifespan. 
  • Keep the sump pump covered to prevent excess debris. 
  • Make sure the discharge line extends far enough away from your home to safely drain the water away from your foundation.

If you’d like to learn more about using a sump pump for flood prevention, check out our frequently asked questions, or give us a call at Ashton and see how we can help today!

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