Friday, June 13, 2008

Storms! A bit of practical advise about your sump pump.

Keeping it topical, I wanted to pass along a little information someone might find useful regarding these incredible storms we've been having and seeing how most SoJoCo'ers probably have basements with huge big screen TV's, wine cellars, pool tables, fully stocked bars, etc, etc.

Clearly, if you have a basement with a sump pump you should make sure it is in good working condition. You probably know by now. :-). Beyond that, you should strongly consider a battery back up pump. This type of back up system runs on a battery should your power goes out. In the previous storm our power went out for about 5 hours and your primary pump doesn't work with out power.

Luckily, we had installed a back up system about 2 years prior but that isn't the end of the story. If that was it I probably wouldn't be writing. I really felt smart when that back up pump kicked on but then realized two problems.

First, it was raining incredibly hard and the back up pump in no way had the capacity to keep up with the volume of water coming in the pit. It was barely holding it's own though the basement wasn't flooding. It was fighting the good fight but I knew if it kept storming at the current rate the pump would slowly lose. You have to figure that in most cases those types of downpours don't last for too long. So, make sure you get the largest volume backup pump you can possibly buy.....don't skimp out on it.

Second, regardless of how good your back up pump is remember that is runs on a car battery and THAT doesn't last forever either. The capacity of the battery was only a couple hours running non stop. Further, as the battery was starting to wear down I realized it didn't have enough power to push the water out although it was still running. I'm so glad I figured that out when I did. I was able to take the battery out of the car and add fresh power to keep it going for another couple hours. Very fortunately, the power came back on when it did. As it was it was a completely sleepless night as we stayed up holding a vigal over the sump well. On occassion we had to help the back up pump by plunging water out via bucket brigade. Very exhausting but it worked and kept the basement dry and our property safe. I have friends in the neighborhood who weren't nearly as lucky.

So, while THAT storm doesn't come along often and the confluence of circumstances leading to all that don't occur very often I decided that I wanted to be more prepared next time.

Simply understanding the limits of the system certainly helps. I bought a small generator this week for the purpose of keeping my main pump running if the power goes out again. You never know when it could go out for several days at a time. I didn't guy one large enough to power much of anything else but at least the basement will stay dry.

About insurance: Call your agent and make sure your policy covers your basement from flooding (mine didn't until I added it) and make sure it covers a faulty pump and I would recommend replacement cost instead of depreciated cost. It sucks to find out the hard way. Again, I have neighbors who learned the hard way this past week.

Final word of warning. If you do decide to grab a generator make sure you never run it inside. You will die. You must run it outside and run an extension cord. Carbon Monoxide kills so be careful with that.

Vaya Con Dios!

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