A sump pump in the corner of a clean basement with white brick walls.

Do I Need a Sump Pump for My Waukesha Basement?

Do I Need a Sump Pump for My Waukesha Basement? 

As Wisconsin’s climate changes, so-called 100-year or 50-year floods are occurring with ever more frequency. For homeowners in Waukesha—and indeed throughout southeastern Wisconsin—this means more potential for flooded basements. 

Flooded basements are BAD. Not only can a flooded basement possibly ruin precious belongings that are kept there, it can also cause serious damage to the integrity of your house’s foundation. What’s more, a basement that gets wet can cause rust, mold, mildew, and unhealthy air that stinks. 

How to avoid basement flooding in your Waukesha home

One of the best ways to avoid flooding in your basement is to install a sump pump. (Gutter maintenance is another way to prevent flooding.) If you don’t know what a sump pump is, that’s good because it means you probably don’t need one. But if your basement experiences regular or semi-regular flooding—or if future flooding is a concern—you should invest in a sump pump.

How a sump pump works

Sump pumps are typically installed in the lowest part of your home. Pits beneath the structure collect water. If the water reaches a certain point, the sump pump automatically turns on and begins pumping the water out of the pit and away from your house’s foundation. If there is a float sensor issue and your sump pump doesn’t activate, you can usually turn it on manually. 

Inside the sump pump is a motor with a fan-like impeller device that pushes water out through a pipe. Most sump pumps are powered electrically, but there are also hand-pump versions. You can even get a sump pump battery backup in case of a power outage caused by a big storm. 

Sump pump maintenance

It’s very important to make sure your sump pump is properly maintained, because the last thing you want is for it to break down when you need it most. Unless you’re very handy, you should have your sump pump installed by a professional. Annual check ups are recommended. The best time to do this is after winter when you’re prepping for spring storms and as the ground is thawing.

Here are some basic maintenance tips:

  • Unplug the sump pump before you handle it. Pull out the pump and check the inlet screen and the fan-like impeller for debris. If there is any, clear it away and make sure the drain hose is connected and that it’s not blocked or frozen.
  • Remove the cover from the sump pump pit or basin and look inside. Remove any debris, mud, or rocks to prevent clogs. If the top of the water looks greasy or oily, you might have problems with the pump’s motor. 
  • Plug the sump pump back in. Check to see if the buoyant ball is working by pouring in water so that when the ball reaches a certain height the sump pump turns on. If it doesn’t turn on, have it looked at by a professional. 
  • Make sure the sump pump is upright. If it’s tilted to one side the float arm can get jammed and not work properly. 
  • Ensure the pipes from the pump are tightly fastened and set to drain at least 20 feet from your foundation. 

One pump or two?

A second sump pump can come in handy if your main one stops working or becomes overwhelmed. If your house is located in an area that is particularly prone to flooding, investing in a second sump pump is a good idea. 

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