Tag Archives: flooding

Check Your Sump Pump!

It’s fall, check your sump pump!

Flooded basements make the news in the spring and fall each and every year. Neglect, power failures, poor drainage, changing seasons, and rapidly changing weather are almost always one or more of the causes of a flooded basement.

You can’t control the weather or the seasons. Sudden heavy rains, warm snaps in the dead of winter, the spring thaw and the onset of rainy fall weather can all cause wet basements.

sump pumpBut battling mother nature isn’t always hard. Checking your sump pump and making sure you’ve got good drainage for your eaves troughs is often all the work you need to do to keep your basement dry.

Living in a 130 year old home and working as a Realtor has taught me quite a bit about drainage and sump pumps. My 1889 property has a sump pump just like almost every new home built over the last 20 years.

sump pumpThese are installed in new homes as a preventative against water penetration and as remediation in old homes such as mine. The system consists of perforated piping (called weeping tile) on the outside of the foundation that directs ground water to a sump, which is a shallow pit in the basement that collects the water. The sump pump sits in the sump and periodically empties this water to the outside of the home.

Your sump pump has to work extra hard if you live in an area with a high water table, or have soil with poor drainage such as the clay that is quite common in Waterloo region. Ground water simply wants to go wherever it can, running as water does, from high places to low. Draining water away from the foundation is the weeping tile’s job since it sits lower than your basement walls, but it’s also a good idea to get the water away from your foundation so your sump pump doesn’t have to deal with it.

sump pumpYou can do this by adding extension pipes to the ends of your downspouts. 10 feet is a good distance, or you can get really ambitious like I did. A couple of years back I dug drainage piping for my eaves-troughs a good 20 or 30 feet from my house.

Prior to my hard work, the spring thaw and heavy thunder storms would often mean a wet laundry room but now the room is bone dry. As an added bonus my sump pump hardly comes on at all except for a couple of weeks in the spring.

Needless to say, having a working pump is even more important than good drainage. Pump failures definitely cause the vast majority of flooded basements. Check your sump pump now and keep your basement dry! Watch the video if you want to learn even more.


Everything You Need To Know About Sump Pumps

The Sump Pump and the Spring Thaw


My sump pump has been running a fair bit lately with the spring thaw well underway. All that freezing rain last week and then this week’s 24 hour rainstorm has saturated the ground which is also in the process of thawing out. My very old house is not unlike new houses since I too have a sump pump. These are installed in new homes as a preventative against water penetration and as remediation in old homes such as mine. The system consists of perforated piping (called weeping tile) on the outside of the foundation that directs ground water to a sump, which is a shallow pit in the basement that collects the water. The sump pump sits in the sump and periodically empties this water to the outside of the home. Maintaining the pump is essential for having a dry basement. I’ve experienced two floods, once from a power failure and the other time from a blocked float. Luckily my basement is unfinished and the damage was minimal. However, several people I know have had major damage from a sump pump failure. Rehabilitation could easily cost a homeowner $20,000 plus.

You might be wondering why weeping tile, a sump and a sump pump are needed especially in new homes and the answer may surprise you especially if you are middle aged like me. In my era, growing up, homes didn’t have sump pumps because builders believed they could make a water tight foundation. This hasn’t stood the test of time and all foundations will eventually crack and leak. Weeping tile installed during construction is a dirt cheap preventative compared to digging up an entire foundation to add waterproofing when the basement starts to leak. When my house was built in 1889 it was a given that basements leaked and no one actually used the space for anything either. At some later point long ago, weeping tile and a sump were installed at a very heavy cost to the owner, probably in the 1950’s from what I can tell.

Your sump pump has to work extra hard if you live in an area with a high water table, or have soil with poor drainage such as the clay that is quite common in Waterloo region. Ground water simply wants to go wherever it can, running as water does, from high places to low. Getting the water to run away from the foundation is the weeping tile’s job since it sits lower than your basement walls, but there is another way to get that water away from the foundation that doesn’t break the bank.

only 15 feet to fill in...

only 15 feet to fill in…

What if rain water never gets to your foundation because you’ve collected it and sent it away even before it hits the dirt? Get your downspouts away from your house, and preferably as far as possible. A couple of years back I dug drainage piping for my eaves-troughs a good 20 or 30 feet from my house because part of my 1889 foundation hadn’t been bone dry in many years. Prior to my hard work, the spring thaw and heavy thunder storms would often mean a wet laundry room, (the laundry room doesn’t have weeping tile installed) and I’m super happy my solution didn’t mean breaking the bank, or breaking my back. My sump pump comes on maybe a quarter of the time it used to, although it has been working hard dealing with the spring thaw this week. It never comes on anymore during thunderstorms and doesn’t come on at all during the fall like it used to.

Seriously, fellow home owners, if you’ve got the room get your eaves-trough downspouts away from your house, as even ten feet makes a huge difference, and don’t forget to check and maintain your sump pump, preferably before the next rainstorm.

CBC published a story a few days after I posted this: CBC on sump pumps