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Sump Pump InstallationYou’re a conscientious homeowner and you’ve installed a sump pump to avoid any more flooding in your basement. It rains cats and dogs outside and suddenly your basement floods again. What’s going on? Your sump pump isn’t working. Arrhhh!

Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario. Just because you installed a sump pump there’s no guarantee that it is always going to work. It is mechanical and subject to problems just like any other machine. There are better pumps and ones that don’t work well at all, but none of them are perfect. Here are some of the most common failings of any sump pump and some things to consider too.

No Power

This is the number one reason your pump may not work. The power goes out and the pump stops pumping because there is no electricity. The problem is that electrical failures often happen when we are asleep or out of the house. A good precaution is a battery-driven backup pump that kicks in when the power goes kaput.

Float Switch

There are two main types of floats – vertical and tethered. Either can stick, but tethered are more prone to do so as they stick to the walls of the sump pit. Some sump pumps have mechanical pressure switches that fail too.

Clogged Intake

If the intake plugs up with debris the pump cannot extract water from the sump pit or sump liner. The pump is busy trying to pump and straining the machine. Make sure screens are clear and nothing is lodged in the intake.

Underpowered Pump

There are a variety of pumps on the market with different capabilities. It is important that you have one that can handle high volumes of water during severe storms. You will need at least 1/3 horsepower to pump 35 gallons of water per minute in normal conditions. If your house sits on a higher water table or if you can hear your sump pump running often, upgrade to a half horsepower pump which pumps around 60 gallons per minute to be on the safe side.

Frozen Discharge Line

For those of us that live in a cold climate, this is a very common occurrence. If the discharge pipe is not tilted enough, water will sit in the pipe and freeze when temperatures turn cold. This blocks the way for water to discharge and any water the pump collects has nowhere to go but back towards to the sump pit, which eventually spills out and into your basement.

Burn Out

A cheap pump or an underpowered pump will burn out quickly. Inexpensivematerials and components are more prone to failure, particularly when you need them to work the most. Sump pumps that are always doing their best but there is just too much water will fail too.

Tired Equipment

Sump pumps are mechanical and even with the best maintenance they will only last between five and seven years. Just because your pump hasn’t failed doesn’t mean that it won’t. Be pro-active, watch for deals and swap out your old pump for a new one before disaster strikes.

Have questions about your current sump pump or installing one in your basement?  If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, we provide free in-home inspections and estimates and can show you how you can get your sump pump for free, including installation.

We service hundreds of homes in Toronto every year and most homeowners aren’t sure what kind of water pump they have installed in their basement.  Here’s a little breakdown of the difference between a sump pump and an injector pump and how each is used.

Despite looking very similar and performing the same basic functions, a sump pump and an injector pump perform the same action very differently. Homeowners are often confused by what the difference is, and why you need one or the other. Sump pumps have been used in homes for a long time, but the injector pump still leaves people perplexed. Here, we will demystify these integral parts of a home water management system.

What is a Sump Pump?

Sump pump installation in Toronto basementA sump pump is a water pump located in the basement. It is small and submersible, and it sits in a sump basin, which is set into the ground. The sump basin connects to a drain tile system, where water collected by the drainage system will flow to the sump basin. Groundwater is often collected into the basin, and helps to keep your basement dry. If the pump malfunctions or there is a sudden large rush of water, the basement will flood, but there are battery-operated back-up systems often available and used in conjunction to ensure dry conditions.

The sump basin holds the accumulating water until it rises to a certain height, high enough to activate the float switch on the sump pump. It will then pump the water out of the basin onto the lawn through strategic piping. It often arrives at a storm sewer, dry well, or other dispersal devices.

What is an Injector Pump?

Ejector pump installed in Toronto basementBecause the two look nearly identical and perform the same tasks, people often confuse sump pumps and injector pumps, and wonder why an injector pump would even be necessary. Like the former, it is installed in a basin which is set into the ground. However, it does not utilize the drain tile systems to collect groundwater. Instead, it collects water from floor drains, such as excess water from a washing machine, sink, or even waste water from a bathroom, depending on the home and the quality of its systems.

Because an injector pump is used to handle this type of water, it has a sealed lid on the basin, and a vent pipe to discharge gases. If the injector pump will not come into contact with waste water, it will look the same minus the vent. An injector pumps is connected to a sanitary sewage line through a discharge pipe, very much like a home’s plumbing systems.

If an injector pump malfunctions, it will flood, but not nearly as heavily as if a sump pump fails. However, because this is tainted sewage water, it could create a health hazard if exposed to the dirty water and it must be cleaned up after properly.

If you would like to locate where the injector pump is located in your home, simply turn on the tap or flush your lower-level toilets. It should activate the pump.

Injector pumps are also often installed by plumbers, while sump pumps are often installed by basement waterproofing professionals, who offer a variety of long-lasting pumps and who are knowledgeable in basement water removal.

If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA and are interested in a sump pump for your basement, feel free to contact us here.  We offer a free in-home inspection and estimate for all sump pump installations and repairs.

Sump pump installed in Toronto homeIt’s a homeowner’s nightmare, you come home after a relaxing vacation to find out that your sump pump quit on you, leaving you with a lovely welcome home present, a wet basement.

Unless a basement is professionally constructed with external french drains and thorough waterproofing, it’s bound to leak to an extent. This problem is especially prevalent in older homes where poorly-compacted earth may gradually subside. While quality sump pumps may seem to purr on endlessly, the time does eventually come when water starts pooling on the basement floor again.

When this happens the problem may not lie with the pump itself, because it is part of a system and the cause of the stoppage may lie elsewhere. It’s absolutely vital to remember that electricity and water do not mix. Make sure the power is turned off and the pump disconnected before you start. Never touch an electrical appliance with both hands if you have the slightest doubt.

Electrical Checks

Power supply is the logical place to start. However this is also the area where the greatest caution is required. If the sump pump is hard-wired to the mains distribution board you need to ask an electrician to perform tests. They will be able to confirm the integrity of the connection, or whether there is an electrical problem with the pump itself.

If your sump pump is of the plug-in variety (not generally recommended) then you can substitute another appliance that you know is working, and easily confirm whether there’s power to the pump or not. If it turns out that there are power supply problems or the pump is electrically faulty, then this is a job that needs the attention of a professional. If not, then here are a few other things that you could attempt.

Mechanical Integrity

Fill the sump with clean water and turn on the power. Does the pump start and run smoothly? If not, there are several lines of thought to follow:

  • If the pump doesn’t start then there may be a problem with the float valve. Lift it gently using a wood or plastic rod. If this causes the pump to start then the float valve is either stuck or dirty. Remember to turn off the power before you investigate.

 

  • If the pump is noisy or runs unevenly then you may be faced with a broken impeller or worn bearings. This is a job for someone with technical experience. It may be cheaper and quicker to install a new sump pump.

 

  • If the pump runs smoothly but the water level is unaffected then water is not passing through it to the drains. Locate the one-way valve a little thicker than the pipe on the delivery side. Disconnect the valve on the pump side. Loosely cover the exposed pipe end with a damp cloth and run the pump for just a second.

 

  • If the pump delivers water smoothly then your one-way valve is faulty and should be replaced. If not, then there is a stoppage in the pump itself. This could be a blocked filter which you should be able to clear easily. If not, then you’ve spent enough time on this one. Buy a new pump for the electrician to install. The old one belongs with the garbage!

Don’t always blame your handy little sump pump when water pools on your basement floor. There could be any one of a number of other things behind the problem. We recommend you test your sump pump from time to time during the dry season, and you have the time to repair and troubleshoot. The last thing you need on a cold and rainy Toronto day is a flooded basement.

 

 

Water is a mighty powerful and persistent thing. It’s carved out canyons and has flooded huge cities. Allow it drip for long enough and it will punch a hole through granite. When it comes to your basement – if there’s a way for water to find it’s through, trust me, it will discover it and you’ll soon have a leaking basement  problem.

That’s why so many of Toronto’s basements suffer from some form of basement water problem. Causes of this can range from leaking water wells and cracked walls, to porous and cracked floors. Left untended, basement leaks can lead to all kinds of associated problems, ranging from mold and mildew, declining property values, to a family with an entire floor of their home that is unhealthy and unusable.

Sump pump installed in Toronto home

Two Options

There are only two solutions to a leaky basement. The first is to stop the water getting in. The second is to manage it (more about this later). Any competent car mechanic will confirm that the only way to stop an oil leak is at its source. The same applies to basements (choosing a mechanic and a contractor should be taken with equal care).

Unfortunately, when basement water-proofing fails from the interior, there’s no easy way to stop it because the source is on the far side of a brick/concrete wall, or under a concrete foundation deep below the ground. This makes accumulating the water in a hollow called a sump usually the first course of action. When it’s accumulated, you can lead it away with an electric pump.

Sump Pumps

A sump pump is not unlike a water-feature pump in principle, in that it’s connected to an electricity supply, but always under water so it never develops an airlock. The sump is equally simple. It’s just a hollow you could squeeze a beach ball into, and covered over with a lid so everything looks neat and tidy.

The system is controlled by a float that’s not unlike the one in your bathroom toilet (at least in principle again). When the water reaches a set level, a switch turns on the pump for as long as necessary to control the water in the sump. By far the larger challenge is leading the leaking water to the sump in the first place. But that’s a subject for another article.

Do I Need a Sump Pump?

You need a sump pump if there’s an accumulation of water in your basement at any time of year. They’re not all that expensive. Besides, if you ignore the damp, mold could become the least of your problems. Your basement den or bedroom could become permanently uninhabitable. Imagine what that would do to your property valuation, and the value of what is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make.

A Permanent Solution

If you have permanent bronchial problems, you could be living in a damp environment. If your basement is permanently damp, then that’s a sign of a deeper-seated problem too. Once you have successfully stabilized your situation with a sump pump, you really should call in a registered and experienced basement waterproofing expert. They will advise you on a longer term solution that retains the integrity of your home.