Spring Runoff Can “Dampen” the Beauty of Spring!

Spring is in the air (or at least, we want it to be) and with the spring comes spring runoff. Now is the time to start inspecting your home’s drainage systems and sump pump to make sure you don’t have any issues with water damage this spring.

At Cayuga Mutual, we want to enjoy the change in temperature and the spring blooms. We certainly don’t want to worry about replacing or repairing damage, and we’re sure you feel the same. Here are some things you can do to prevent water damage that can come from spring runoff.

Make Sure You Have a Sump Pump

In many homes, a sump pump is your saving grace. These are pumps installed in a “sump pit” in your basement or crawl space.

Sump pumps help water to drain away from your home’s foundation and save you the horrible job of cleaning up after a flood.

Testing of Your Sump Pump is Crucial

It’s imperative to test your sump pump regularly to ensure they are working as intended. Some manufacturers recommend once a year while others recommend every two to three months.

The Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction (ICLR) recommends testing your sump pump as often as every month or two, particularly in areas where water tables are high.

Testing your pump generally involves a simple three-step process:

  1. Ensure power is running to the pump. Simply listen to the pump to ensure that it turns on and off and doesn’t make any improper sounds.
  2. Pour enough water into the sump pit to trigger the float or diaphragm. This may require using a hose or a bucket and filling the pit until the pump is triggered.
    Ensure the water raises the float or triggers the diaphragm and turns the pump on. This should also be done for any secondary or back up pumps.
  3. Check the pump discharge line. Go outside to where the pipe exits the foundation to ensure that water is flowing out of the home. Make sure there is no blockage from snow, ice, or any foreign objects. (leaves and debris etc.)

Where a sump pump system is rarely or only occasionally needed, a primary and secondary pump configuration will likely suffice. If, however, a sump pump system is often or always needed, particularly where the water table is high, a primary, secondary and backup pump configuration is recommended (Source: Institute for Catastrophic Loss Reduction).

Consider Installing a Sump Pump Alarm

Finally, you may consider installing a sump pump alarm. You can use an audible alarm that will alert the homeowner when water levels in the sump pit are higher than normal.

This will allow the homeowner to take preventative action and either install a backup pump or hand-bail the sump pit. However, this type of alarm will only work if the homeowner is present and able to hear it.

Alternatively, you can install a wireless internet alarm system that will send a text message to a number of wireless devices should a problem occur with the water levels in the pit.

With these types of alarms, the homeowner does not need to be home to receive the warning. These will likely be more costly but will allow for preventative measures even if the homeowner is not currently at home.

Don’t Forget Those Inside Water Sources Too!

Every water-bearing appliance, fixture or plumbing line is a potential source of water damage in your home.

Here are some tips to prevent water damage from the basement and up:

  1. Have a main water shut-off valve as well as shut-offs for the bathtub and/or plumbing in ceilings.
  2. Check for water and drain pump leaks if you experience washing machine failure. Install a steel braided washing machine hose to improve durability and walls.
  3. Maintain your:
    1. Water Heaters – regularly check & tighten valves.
    2. Humidifier – check throughout the winter; disconnect water when not in use.
    3. Boiler – maintain annually and replace after 25 years.
  4. Check for leaks, loose connections and cracked hoses on water softeners, toilets and bathroom fixtures and repair promptly.
  5. Consider other water-bearing appliances you might not otherwise think of:
    1. Refrigerator/Ice Maker – check for leaks and loss connections.
    2. Dishwasher Hoses – inspect and replace older hoses with steel braided hoses.

Following these simple sump pump testing and maintenance measures can help ensure a safe and dry spring. After all, wouldn’t you rather be enjoying the tulips instead of wearing hip waders in your basement?

For more great in-depth tips on sump pump systems visit: