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Did Flooding Overwhelm your Sump Pump in Chicago?

Apr 22, 2013 • By Matthew Stock.

Did Flooding Overwhelm your Sump Pump in Chicago?


Boy, did it rain!  The Chicago area had one of its heaviest rains ever in spring of 2013, with parts of the city and suburbs getting as much as seven inches of rain in one 24-hour period.  Streets flooded, traffic and public transit ground to a halt and a few cars disappeared into sinkholes.

Coming down from that 30,000-foot view all the way to below-ground level, the huge downpour also resulted in many, many flooded basements in Chicago.  Some were flooded from sewer backups, others from undiscovered (or maybe ignored) seepage problems and others, lots of others, because of sump pumps that were either overwhelmed by all that water or that breathed their last from being overworked.

Here’s what I had to say today about fixing the probelms from the last storm on WGN-TV:

What Should I Do about my Sump Pump in Chicago?

If your sump pump didn’t perform in the recent heavy rains or if it chose that inopportune moment to go to sump pump heaven, there are several things you can do to ensure you won’t be running from Home Depot to Home Depot in the next big storm in search of a new sump pump — along with hundreds of your friends and neighbors.

Install a Higher Capacity Sump Pump – This is a pretty simple resolution to the problem – if your old sump isn’t big enough or strong enough give that wimp the bum’s rush and get yourself a real sump pump, one with enough capacity to move water out of your basement during even the heaviest of rains.  When selecting a sump pump, make sure you understand that manufacturers’ pumping capacity claims depend on “head height,” which is the vertical distance the sump pump has to move water to get it out of your basement.  For example, if a pump can move 30 gallons per hour at a 5-foot head and your sump outlet is 8 feet above the floor, it’s going to perform at a considerably lower rate.  Your best bet may be to install a pump designed for high water tables because of its high capacity.

Put in a Backup Sump Pump System – Another fairly simple solution is to provide your sump pump with some reinforcements in the form of a backup pump.  Backup sumps come in three varieties — battery-only, dual-power and dual-pump, dual-power – and one of them is right for your home.  A battery-only backup sump pump is designed to work when the power fails, a common occurrence during big storms in the Chicago area.  Powerful batteries will keep this pump running for as much as 72 hours, usually more than long enough for ComEd to get things flowing again.  A dual-power backup sump pump is powered by household current as well as a long-lasting battery and it will kick on when your primary pump is fighting for its life and help get water out of your basement until the flow slows down.  A dual-power, dual-pump system works like two primary sump pumps, alternating duties to keep the water moving and avoid overtaxing pump motors.  This system also operates on batteries during power outages.

Install a Larger Sump Basin – No matter how good your sump pump, it can only move water so fast and if the basin (also known as a pit or crock) in which it sits is so small that the pump cycles on and off constantly and can’t keep up, a larger, deeper basin will help its performance immeasurably.

Maintain Your Existing Pump – At an absolute minimum, check on your sump pump once in a while to make sure it’s ready the next time the skies open up.  Test the pump’s readiness, ascertain that the float switch isn’t set too high or too low and that the check valve isn’t allowing backflow.  Oh, and make sure it’s plugged in – we’ve heard stories…

Let’s face it, your sump pump may be the most important safeguard you have against a wet basement and you can’t afford to make the wrong decision when installing or upgrading it.  At U.S. Waterproofing, we’ve installed thousands of sump pumps, both primary and backup, all across Chicagoland and we offer innovative solutions that incorporate both our design and installation skills and the finest sump pumps available.  Why not ask for our free advice?

Tags: sump pump problems, sump pump chicago, chicago sump pump

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