Sump Pumps for Flooded Basements
If your house and property is in a Flood Zone, it has a 26% chance of getting flooded over a 30-year timeframe. Further, FEMA reporting shows that 25% of all flood claims happened in low-to-moderate-flood-risk locations. If this is you, you likely need a sump pump to prevent basement flooding. Having one can also avoid the hefty cost of water damage restoration.
Is a Sump Pump Necessary in a Flooded Basement?
A basement requires a sump pump if you repeatedly have standing water breaching your basement space after heavy rain or flooding. Other reasons you may want to prevent water damage include:
- You have a finished basement space also used as a living space
- You regularly have excess water in the basement from heavy rain
- You have an integral French Drain that must have water pumped safely away from the house
- You keep valuable or sentimental items in the basement that cannot be damaged by water
- Your home sits below the water table or down a slope that further forces water into your basement following heavy rain
There are many times when a home does not require a sump pump. If your basement is dry and free of water, there is no need to add a sump pump. If you question whether your basement needs a sump pump, check your basement during all seasons and weather conditions for flooding. Sometimes you can tackle minimal basement moisture with a simple dehumidifier.
Do I Need a Sump Pump in Crawl Space?
A crawl space is not a living space. However, you may still need a sump pump if the crawl space often fills with water. A sump pump can help eliminate standing water that could damage valuables. It helps eliminate the possibility for mildew and mold to grow in your crawl space.
Your home's crawl space should be treated just like any other area and viewed as an independent space just because your basement floods does not necessarily mean that your crawl space will flood too.
Alternatively, a dry basement does not mean that you will also have a dry crawlspace. Be sure to check the area during all seasons and weather to ensure the space remains dry. If your crawl space stays relatively dry, it may be possible to treat crawl space water problems with other mitigation techniques. You could try a vapor barrier or French drain.
Remember, if your crawl space gets wet during a rainy day, use the same cautions you would for your basement. Install a water alarm and regularly test your system to ensure it will function during a power outage.
Do I Need a Battery Backup for My Sump Pump?
Yes, you need a battery backup to keep your sump pump running during a power outage if:
- You do not have a battery-operated backup generator
- Your local area power company is unreliable
- You have frequent basement flooding
Most sump pumps rely on your home's electricity. Storms, unfortunately, can come with a loss of power. Even having electricity out for a few hours can cause your basement to flood.
A battery maintains power to your sump pump after a home's power interruption. Many batteries remain charged while not in use and turn on once the sump pump senses a power failure. Many battery-powered pumps will utilize a float switch.
The switch will trigger the battery to turn-on with rising water levels. Once the water reaches a certain level, the switch is activated, causing the battery to kick into action.
Float switches trigger a backup system if the pump fails due to a power source interruption caused by power outages. This water-powered backup is the perfect way to combat high waters with limited power resources. Water-powered switches rarely fail and are a safeguard for your primary sump pump.
A homeowner should consider a battery backup option if they live in an area that routinely loses power. However, if you have a home power generator for power losses, a backup sump pump battery may not be necessary.
Do I Need a Permit to Install a Sump Pump?
Some states and cities require a licensed plumber to install a sump pump. Some require a permit and subsequent inspection by a licensed professional to ensure that the installation meets all plumbing code laws.
Codes can include:
- Verifying that the water pressure is correct
- Ensure any possible plumbing leak resolved
- Check if the pump discharge water safely channels towards a storm drain or other safe area
Some states have little regulation surrounding sump pump installation. Therefore, a DIYer with some PVC pipe and plumbing knowledge can tackle the job.
Of course, before starting any installation, check with local authorities and your municipality to ensure you will not need a permit. If you are in doubt, call a local plumbing company and ask about any necessary permits.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Sump Pumps?
Not for mechanical issues. If your sump pump's motor breaks or the unit breaks, homeowners insurance does not cover it. Homeowners insurance also does not cover wear and tear or maintenance issues with your pump. It does cover sudden and accidental damage.
For example, if your house burns down, it is covered because fires are covered.
However, you can buy an equipment endorsement add-on to your homeowners insurance policy, which will cover maintenance and mechanical failure.
Does Homeowners Insurance Cover Flooded Basements?
No, typically not, but in rare cases, yes.
- If your flooded basement happens when there is a hurricane or rain, you need a separate flood insurance policy for that. Homeowners insurance does not cover the flooding caused by nature. Private insurers and the NFIP sell flood insurance.
- If your basement gets flooded from a washing machine overflow or a burst pipe, your homeowners insurance policy will cover the damages. That is because those are sudden and accidental events.
- Insurers exclude a leaking pipe that eventually breaches your basement wall and floods the floor. They will consider that flood a maintenance issue because you should have fixed the leaking pipe before it breached your basement wall.
Hope that helps!
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