In this post I’ll show you a quick, easy DIY early warning system for the sump pump in your house. This can prevent thousands in flood damage to your house and anyone can and must do this!
What is a sump pump and what does it do?
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The reason you need these is that when there is water around your house’s foundation, for example when it rains or when snow melts in the spring, the water has to go somewhere. Some will flow away from your house onto the street while the rest will seep into the ground around your house. The water that seeps into the ground around and under the foundation can end up entering the house if it builds up and has nowhere to go. This is where the sump system comes in. A series of underground drainpipes run around the foundation of the house that allows the build-up of water around the foundation to drain into. This series of pipes drain into the Sump pit for the sump pump to pump out of your house.
Most of the time you don’t have to deal with your sump pump because it is working as expected. When the water reaches a certain level in the sump pit, the sump pump automatically turns on and pumps the water out of the pit. It’s when it doesn’t work that big problems can result and thousands of dollars of damage can occur.
3 common reasons sump pumps don't run as expected
The first reason the sump pump doesn’t run is because it fails or breaks down. I remember a friend had his basement flood when it was raining hard while we were all partying upstairs. His sump pump had stopped working and 2” of water had flooded the basement from the sump pit before he found out. They ended up having to rip out all the drywall and have it all replaced. Good thing it wasn’t a fully developed basement.
The second reason is a tripped circuit breaker. If for whatever reason the circuit breaker for the power outlet that the sump pump is connected to, is tripped and you didn’t know. The sump pump won’t run when it needs to.
The third reason is a power outage. Recently, we had a power outage and it had been raining the night before and was still raining the next day. Without power the sump pump could not turn on. As a result, the water level was rising in the sump pit and we didn’t even know.
But luckily, we had an early warning system that went off and allowed us to take care of the situation before the basement started flooding with water.
You want to buy one like this where the contacts can be detached and also have an extension wire. Then all you do is dangle the contact plate to a height in the sump pit where you want to be warned. This should be higher than where the sump pump would normally turn on but lower than the top of the sump pit because you want to give yourself time to react before water starts overflowing out.
Once installed, the next time your sump pump decides to take a vacation, you will be warned and you can take action right away!
And for those of you that want a fancier alarm and one that can warn you while you’re not at home, smart water detectors / smart water alarms are also available. These will warn you by push notification to your smartphone.
Buy these smart water alarms and the regular ones shown demoed in this post using the links below!
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Use these water alarms for anyplace that you need to be warned of any water leaks or floods. We also use it for the hot water tank. My father in law had a water tank that started to leak and though, at the time, he did not have a water alarm installed, was lucky enough to catch it early before any major damage occurred. So consider it for that application too!
Now that you have an early warning system, what do you do if your sump pump one day stops working and you get an alarm notification?
As basic as it is, use a bucket and scoop. You can easily use a these to scoop the water out of the sump pit and dump it in the toilet after. Make sure not to fill the bucket to the top because you don’t want the water spilling out when you are carrying it to the washroom. A bucket with a handle can make things easier and also one that folds / collapses away like this is great because it can be kept handy and ready to use without taking much space.
Some other tips for you to consider
Some sump pumps have 2 wires plugged into the outlet. One is for the sump pump and the other is for the float activator. When the water rises, the float activator also rises. When it reaches a certain level, the activator will switch on thereby passing power to the sump pump. If at any point in time the sump pump doesn’t turn on when it is supposed to, unplug it from the float activator plug and plug it directly into the outlet to see if the problem is the activator or the sump pump.
Make sure to test your sump pump, float activator and water alarm at least once a year to make sure the system is working properly. Also, don’t let the water level get too low when the sump pump is being tested. If not enough water is going through the pump it could overheat and get damaged.
We hope this post was useful to you and saves you from a flooding basement in the future.
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