Summer rainfall amounts for 2021 are nearing, and in some places have broken all-time records. So much rain can create challenges for many of us. Basement Sump Pump systems are one of those challenges.
It seems that for weeks now we’ve heard pump motors going off and on all day and all night, with no relief. The groundwater table is incredibly high causing sump systems to work overtime. Such stresses on a system create their own problems.
This is what your sump pump motor says after weeks of non-stop working. The motors either quit, or debris gets into the system, overheating it causing a shut-down. You wake up one morning, go into your basement and your ankles are swimming.
“You can’t handle the…..”
Volume. Even if your pump keeps working, the flow of water into the sump pit is greater than the pump’s ability to eject it outside. The end result is that the sump pit overflows even while the system is working. You wake up one morning, go into your basement and your ankles are swimming.
In the Dark.
Every season has disruptive events that can take out the electricity. Sure, you can read by candlelight, create hand shadows on the walls, and BBQ dinner outside. Most of the tasks of living have alternatives to get you through the inconvenience. You might even have a battery backup system for your sump pump. (Worth every penny spent on the system.) What happens when the backup battery is only good for 8-12 hours and it’s now 7 hours into the darkness?
Even with all these glass half empty scenarios, there is still water in the glass to drink. There are steps you can take to help get through those times before your ankles swim and after.
- Install a second sump system
- Install a French Drain system
- Install Battery back-ups for your pumps
- Install a Water-Powered Back Up (no electricity needed. Youtube)
- Buy a back-up pump, ready to install
- Have 1 or two high powered fans ready to go if the basement floods to help dry it out after the water has been removed.
- Place water sensors near your sump pit to alert you of a potential issue. Look for a system that has an audible alarm as well as one that can send you a text message
- Have a small pump and garden hose at the ready so you can suck up the overflow and get it into a sink or toilet.
- Have a wet vac with a bottom drain plug
- Once the water is removed, use fans to help evaporate the moisture in the area
- Use a dehumidifier to extract the evaporated moisture and discharge it into a sink or the sump pit
- Hire a company to assist in drying out your basement, cut up rugs and sheetrock. If it is wet on top or in the front, it’s wet underneath and behind. You can’t dry something that isn’t open to the fans.
Am I Covered? The quick answer is a definite maybe! Your Homeowner’s policy has many benefits and many exclusions. Never ever assume your neighbors’ or family members’ policy is just like yours, even with the same insurance company.
Most policies exclude damages caused by sump pump failures and overflow. BUT, many agents and brokers nowadays have attached a special endorsement that overrides the exclusion and gives you some protection. Unfortunately, the standard coverage is just a couple of thousand dollars. Three inches of water in a finished basement can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to the building and to your personal property.
What can you do about it? Call your agent or broker. Tell them you want as much coverage for sump system failures as you can buy. There may be a cap of $25K or $50K. If they offer it, buy it. As it is said, it’s not a matter of will your system fail, but when your system will fail.
Look elsewhere for coverage as well. This July a client called to say their pump failed and their ankles and shins were swimming. Their policy only covered up to $2,500.00 in damage to the building and their belongings. Their first quote was $7,500 to begin the drying out process. Their final bill was $15,000.00, not including the replacement of all of their personal belongings. They were distraught at the thought of the expense and loss. It turns out that they live in a condominium. I directed them to contact their Condo Association to see if its insurance policy also had some coverage. Even another $2,500 would have been welcomed. The Association sent us a copy of the Master policy and we confirmed they had another $100,000.00 in coverage. You cannot imagine the relief such news brought to them. They were lucky; most we have spoken with the last 4 weeks do not share their good fortune.
There is one key ingredient you need in order to have a successful claim and that is coverage. Speak with your agent or broker annually to review what’s happening at your home and in your life. So many changes can happen in just a short period of time. A look back at the last 18 months is evidence of that. So many families had kids or parents move in because of the pandemic. Basements became bedrooms. Basements take on water. Protect your basement with equipment, a plan, and insurance coverage. Every successful claim starts with having good coverage.
Stay dry my friends.