Failing sump pumps may leave Indy residents wet
After a night out, Chris Ringer noticed a bad smell in his home. The Cicero Angie’s List member found 4 inches of sewage flooding his basement utility room.
Ringer learned his sump pump was clogged and the battery-powered backup pump that could have stopped the flood failed. “I’m lucky I got help fast,” says Ringer, who paid A-rated Tru-Build Construction of Pendleton $150 to repair the system.
Sump pump problems and failures are common, says Nick Pappas, owner of highly rated Quality Control Plumbing of Indianapolis. Sump pumps, typically installed in basements and crawl spaces, provide the first line of defense against floods by pumping incoming water out of the home. “I’ve seen it save homeowners thousands of dollars in water damage,” Pappas says. He adds that homes should have a sump pump if they are in low-lying areas, have a history of flooding or have a finished basement.
Lack of maintenance causes failed pumps
Rick Holland, owner of A-rated Wet Basement Doctors of Indianapolis, says he frequently sees pumps fall short of their expected five-year life span due to lack of maintenance. “People don’t understand that pumps are man-made parts that require maintenance,” Holland says. He offers clients a list of care instructions, including clearing debris from the sump pit seasonally and running water through the pump during dry seasons to avoid pump failures. He recommends checking to make sure the pump attaches to its own circuit breaker and that the discharge has a proper exit from the home.
Pappas says most homeowners can avoid costly situations by using a battery- or water-powered backup pump. He recommends backups to protect against main pump failure or power outages. Pappas charges $800 to $1,200 for a backup pump and $300 to $500 for a primary pump. Holland charges $250 for a primary pump and $700 to $1,200 for a backup, which costs more due to its mechanical and computerized components. “The initial cost of a backup might seem big, however damage from a flood can be much higher and the peace of mind offered is worth the cost,” says Holland, who adds that basement water proofers don’t have the same licensing and regulations as plumbers.
Local experts say homeowners tend to ignore their sump pumps until something goes wrong. If the sound and vibration of the pump change or get louder, call a professional for service and consider annual maintenance as well. “If a flood in your basement would be a big deal, get your pump serviced annually before spring,” Pappas says.
Chad Trenshaw, owner of A-rated Crossroads Home Inspections of Carmel, says many sump pumps failed this summer due to the lack of rain. “They are notorious for seizing up if they sit too long,” says Trenshaw, who recommends running water through the pump during dry seasons to avoid problems.