Keep Your Basement Dry This Upcoming Summer

Friday, January 6th, 2012 by Ryan Weyers

With the unusual wet spring in the Fox Valley last year, it is essential for homeowners to keep their basements dry. For about 99 percent of homeowners it is the sump pump system that is the most crucial component in taking care of this. All that is involved in the specifications of a good sump and pump are more than you might have thought.

Why do we need sump pumps?

Most of the soil in the Fox Valley is comprised of some type of clay. The nature of constructing homes has us creating "clay bowls," otherwise known as basements. After digging we set the footing of our homes on the base of that hole and because of that, we then need to create a means to collect any water that fills it and eject it away from the hole. It sounds like a never ending cycle of water entering and exiting the foundation and it actually is. Water will always seek the path of least resistance (it goes where it can get to the easiest) and will always seek its own level (filling up the space equally). The challenge every homeowner has is to get a footing drain system to accommodate these natural laws. Before the water is expelled away from the foundation and propelled far enough away so it would be unlikely for it to enter back into the cycle, you need to offer the water a path of least resistance that reliably manages the level to which it is allowed to rise. This is when the sump pump comes in.

The makeup of a good system:

  • Sump pit - the hole in the basement floor. The bottom of the hole should be aligned with the lowest point in the basement.
  • Sump liner - A good sump liner has multiple inlets for water to collect quickly when the flow of water increases. The perforations assist in de-watering the sub-floor in the immediate area. The idea is to collect water into one spot as fast as possible. This should also have an airtight cover to keep out humidity and damp, musty smells that come along with standing water; safety is another reason.
  • Pump- not all pumps are created equal. There are two types:
    • Pedestal pumps stick up above the floor. These pumps are air cooled so they tend to hold heat and burn out faster while also having a lower capacity. They usually are inexpensive and have and adjustable float.
    • Submersible pumps are sealed water tight and are water cooled in which the motor sits in or under the water. With these pumps come a variety of switch designs:
      • Pressure sensitive – has no float, switch reacts to increased water pressure when water gets high enough.
      • Tether – switch is inside of a float attached to an adjustable cord.
      • Mechanical – float is fixed on a rod or stem and located on the side of the pump in which it slides up and down.
      • No switch at all – Uses switch panels that allows for continuous running.

How do I know which one is for me?

Pump manufacturer’s rate and test their pumps differently. Getting the most horsepower in a pump doesn’t necessarily indicate the highest volume, and that volume isn’t always tested the same way. When determining the volume of a pump be sure to compare the “head,” which is the distance of vertical lift out of the basement. For example, if one pump is advertising a certain volume at a two foot head and another is showing a lower volume with a ten foot head then you know the higher the volume was achieved under a much smaller workload. In determining the head under normal use for your sump pump just add the depth of the sump pit to the highest point of the discharge pipe. This is how high the water in the sump pit must be lifted to be expelled away from your foundation.

With the number of contributing factors in choosing the right pumping system for your situation, remember that there is a lot to be said in being able to rely on that pump and for it to work as hard and as long as it needs to in order to keep the basement dry.

flooded basement

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Our Locations:

Sure-Dry Basement Systems
754 W. Airport Road
Menasha, WI 54952