If you live in the Midwest for any amount of time, you’re familiar with the wide variety of weather that we encounter. Intense heat and heavy thunderstorms in the summer, extreme cold and blustery snows in the winter. And if you have a basement or crawl space, you’ve probably had to deal with flooding or water intrusion at some point.
We’re a family-owned and operated company that specializes in foundation repair and waterproofing. Since our start in 1996, we’ve waterproofed more than 20,00 basements and crawl spaces. Water intrusion is a major cause of foundation damage, and we understand how essential a quality water drainage system is to your home’s health.
There are two major components involved in every waterproofing system: perimeter drainage and a sump pump. The drainage collects and directs the water to the sump pump pit, where a sump pump will expel it out of the basement or crawl space. While most people don’t install their own water drainage (it always involves tremendous physical labor and sometimes a jackhammer), some DIY fans do install or replace their own sump pumps.
In this article, we’re going to tackle 5 frequent mistakes that homeowners make when installing a sump pump in their homes.
I. Do: Find the Right Sump Pump Location
This applies more to homeowners with a crawl space, but can be applicable in certain basements, too. Make sure you have thoroughly evaluated the entire space and perimeter, to identify the lowest point of the area. You should always install your sump pump at the lowest point of the floor.
This is a basic scientific principle: water doesn’t flow up. It doesn’t matter how terrific the perimeter drain is, water doesn’t defy gravity. The only way to make water move uphill is with force- like the kind your sump pump generates when it expels the water out through the discharge line.
This photo was taken by an Acculevel team member, after installing a water drainage system in a customer’s crawl space.
II. Do: Have a (Battery) Back-up Sump Pump
We understand that every home has a budget, and that a battery back-up for your sump pump is an added expense. However, it is going to be worth every penny if/when you lose power during a rainstorm.
Again, if you’re familiar with Midwestern summers, you know the primary cause of a power outage is a thunderstorm. It could be lightning striking a transformer or heavy winds blowing a tree into power lines, but it is a regular occurrence. And the last time you want to lose power is during a heavy rain!
If you think about the costs associated with water damage, flooding, and the clean-up required afterward? The battery back-up saves you more money and headache than it costs. We strongly recommend that every homeowner have a sump pump with a battery back-up; we won’t install one without the other.
III. Don’t: Cut Corners with Electricity
This is another situation where paying more at the start of the project will save you later on. You will need to have two (2) electrical outlets for your sump pump system: one for the primary pump and one for the battery charger.
If the best location for your sump pump is too far from the needed power outlet? Hire an electrician to install the additional needed access. Do not plug either into an extension cord; this is a safety risk. Again, we know qualified tradespeople can be expensive, but they are so much cheaper (and less traumatizing) than a house fire.
IV. Do: Protect the Discharge Line
Because our winters are unpredictable, it is essential that you protect your discharge line from freezing. There will be times throughout the winter when snow will melt, water will seep into your basement (or crawl space) and need to be evacuated by the sump pump. If your drainage line is frozen, it disrupts the entire process.
We do not recommend freeze guards; these are overflow devices that attach to the drainage line as it exits the foundation. Yes, they will allow water to escape if your drainage line freezes. However, they dump the water directly next to your foundation, where it will be free to once again seep into your basement. This creates an endless cycle that can eventually lead to the pump burning out, the water creating foundation damage, or both.
If you are installing your own sump pump and aren’t sure how to prevent a frozen discharge line, we can help. We have a separate article entirely dedicated to explaining how you can protect your discharge line, here.
V. Don’t: Skip Recommended Maintenance
Preventative maintenance is an essential part of being an adult. You need to regularly change the oil in your car, schedule your annual check-up with your doctor, add salt to your water softener, change the furnace filter, etc. Your sump pump system isn’t any different. You should test it at least twice a year, to identify if there are any issues developing.
This is something we can help you with! If you are the DIY type, we have a checklist that will walk you through how to perform your own home inspection. We recommend that you do this at least twice per year, preferably during the drier seasons of early spring and early fall. (Add it to your routine when you think about cleaning out your guttering.)
If you are not a DIY fan or if you’d prefer to have a professional review your home, you can sign up for Acculevel’s Home Inspection Program (HIP). One of our experienced service technicians will come to your home and perform a detailed checklist for you, then review the results and discuss any potential issues that are discovered during the process.
Do You Want More Information about Waterproofing?
We have a exhaustive guide dedicated specifically to basement waterproofing. This is a free resource available to all homeowners, and we review it regularly to make certain it provides the most accurate and up to date information about products and services.
If you need a professional review of your basement, or have concerns about your foundation, call Acculevel at 866-669-3349. Prefer electronic communication? Complete our online form and tell us if you’d rather be contacted by email or text.
We’ll schedule an appointment with one of our expert project advisors. They’ll discuss your plans for your home, review any symptoms you’ve experienced, then evaluate your home and recommend any needed repairs. Our project advisors work closely with homeowners, to be sure that we are providing the whole-home solution you need to preserve and protect your home.
Not sure if you live in our service area? You can look up your address on our interactive service map. If you don’t live in Indiana or the surrounding areas, please make sure you verify the contractor you hire is properly insured and accredited by the Better Business Bureau.