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posted: 7/29/2017 12:01 AM

What you need to know about sump pumps

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  • A sump pump with a battery backup is key for houses in areas prone to power failures, particularly during floods.

    A sump pump with a battery backup is key for houses in areas prone to power failures, particularly during floods.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
 

As floodwater approaches, a key weapon in keeping it out of your house is a functioning sump pump. But three generations of making sure basements remain dry has taught Matthew Stock most people don't think about a sump pump until it isn't working.

"Your sump pump is not like a cellphone," said Stock, owner of Rolling Meadows-based U.S. Waterproofing. "It's not going to tell you when it has 10 percent life left. You'll know when it's done working when your basement is flooded."

It doesn't have to be that way. Stock said most sump pumps have a dependable life span of no more than 10 years. He advised paying more for a quality pump of at least half a horsepower.

"Just because a lousy sump pump has a warranty doesn't mean you should buy it," Stock said. "If you pay $70 and it doesn't pump the water you need it to, then all you're going to get is another pump from that warranty. They aren't going to pay for the damage in your basement."

One way to test a sump pump is to open the lid and pour a couple of gallons of water inside to see if it activates. But just having a working sump pump may not be enough, Stock said. A sump pump that cycles frequently is a sign it's too small, or that your house needs multiple sump pits with multiple pumps to handle the water.

Finally, Stock said the quality and function of a sump pump makes little difference if your house is prone to power outages during floods. Stock recommends a whole-house power generator or, failing that, a battery-powered backup sump pump to make sure your property stays dry if the lights go out.

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