January 20, 2022
Canada has high levels of snowfall and rainfall and an abundance of bodies of water. Because of this, houses in low-lying areas are susceptible to flooding. Depending on where in Canada you live, a sump pump may be one of the most important pieces of equipment in your home or you may not even know what one is.
A sump is a space that is designed to collect liquid and, in a house, it is typically a pit in the basement. Sumps are usually 18 inches wide and two feet deep with a gravel base.
A sump pump pumps out water if there is flooding. Sump pumps can be activated by a flotation activator or a pressure sensor. A low-pressure environment is created using centrifugal force and water is sucked in and then forced through a pipe that empties away from your house. Water is prevented from backing up into your home through the use of a check valve. The motor of a sump pump is powered by electricity from a standard outlet and there must be a ground fault circuit interrupter on the outlet.
Too much moisture in your basement can cause wood beams to rot and cracks to form in your foundation, which means serious problems with the structural integrity of your home. Moisture also causes mildew and mold, which can lead to health problems.
Your HVAC system and water heater are probably in your basement and moisture can damage them or cause them to fail prematurely. The same applies to your washer and dryer if they are in the basement.
If floods are a problem in your area, you definitely need a sump pump and you may need one even if you do not live in an area prone to flooding. You may have already experienced water damage in your basement or there may be moisture present.
If you live in an area where there is a lot of rain or snow you may need a sump pump because groundwater can accumulate and force its way into your basement. If your home is in a low-lying area like the bottom of a hill, near a body of water, in a valley, or near a ravine you are at risk for flooding.
The type of soil around your house can also help you determine if you need a sump pump. If it is clay or silt and traps a lot of moisture you risk damage to your foundation. Sandy soils are better for letting water drain away.
The slope of your yard can be another indicator that you need a sump pump. If the land slopes toward your house, then water will flow toward your foundation.
You can test your basement for moisture by taping a piece of paper to an area you suspect might be letting moisture in. If it is wet a few days later you have a problem. You can run a de-humidifier for a few weeks and if moisture is still present then you should invest in a sump pump.
There are two kinds of sump pumps – submersible sump pumps and pedestal sump pumps.
Submersible sump pumps are installed underground and can be sealed with a lid, which means they are protected from the water they are removing. They are the more expensive type of sump pump and have a shorter lifespan than pedestal sump pumps but are quieter and more reliable. They can last up to 15 years with proper maintenance.
Pedestal sump pumps are above the ground and they are easier to install and maintain than submersible sump pumps and can last for up to 25 years. They are cheaper but can be damaged by the water they are trying to remove.
You should also have a battery-powered backup sump pump and an alarm on your primary sump pump that will alert you if it fails.
If your house is prone to flooding or excessive moisture, you should install a sump pump before there are any issues. Also, make sure to maintain your sump pump regularly so that it is functional if there is an emergency. According to the CBC, after the 2013 Toronto ice storm about half of the $225 million in insurance claims was because of sump pump failures.