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Flood insurance: Get the jump on your sump pump

Consumer Reports News: November 10, 2010 01:13 PM

If you live in an area that suffers flooding during the spring thaw, now's a good time to check that the pumps you have in place are in working order. Early spring isn’t the easiest time to find a drain specialist because that's when other folks are picking up the phone after their pumps have failed.

The critical time of year for my home in New York’s Westchester County is the end of winter, when we often experience nor’easters or similarly rainy storms. Other times of the year the ground absorbs much of the rain. But in late March and early April, the soil is too saturated from melting snow to soak up all the rain and it inevitably tries to makes its way into our basement.
My early checkup occurred because I added to our pump collection. We have an outdoor sump pump, in a pit, that we’d had installed to whisk away outdoor water before it could rise up our basement drain. We also have an indoor sump pump, but it’s only used if the outdoor pump fails and water rises an inch or two in the basement. So this past spring, I bought a jet pump to use as a better backup to the outdoor pump. It has an intake I can extend down into the drain to pump away water before it spills over.
When I primed the jet pump recently and plugged it in, it worked like a champ. Next, I checked the outdoor pump by filling in the pump pit. In the spring, the pump was kicking in several times an hour from water that seeped in through the mud. Now? Nothing. I checked the plug, then the circuit breaker. This was the pump we’d most need next spring, and it was kaput. Within a few days, a new one was in place.

Foresight doesn’t necessarily lead to prompt action, but for once I feel ahead of the game.

—Ed Perratore
Just FYI. We haven’t tested sump pumps, but from our experience we can recommend you choose one by where you’ll install it and how much water it needs to move. How long it lasts depends largely on how often it needs to work. For more information on keeping water out of your home read: Five home repairs you shouldn't ignore.

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