How to Prevent Basement Flooding

Last summer, it rained. From June 1st through the end of September, it rained at least once a week, often two plus times a week. Flash flood warnings, closed roads due to flooding, and baseball game cancellations became the weekly norm. After a couple weeks of Summer 2019, the rain shows no signs of slowing. In the third week of June, it rained six inches in one night. All over the state of Pennsylvania, homeowners returned home to inches of water in their basements and thousands of dollars of water damage.

Although baseball cancellations stink, coming home to a flooded basement trumps a soggy ball field. The American Society of Home Inspectors reports that 60% of American homes suffer from below ground wetness and that an even higher percentage of

 

home owners will deal with a flooded basement in some capacity at some point. Flooded basements often cost homeowners thousands of dollars in damage as they ruin floors, walls, and cause mold. Taking certain precautions reduces the likelihood of your home flooding and the significant damage costs that follow.

Neglecting the maintenance of three key plumbing systems in homes lead to basement flooding: sump pumps, hot water heaters, and pipes. This list only covers a few flood causes, but a majority of preventable basement flooding begins with the upkeep of these three systems.

  1. Sump Pumps: A sump pump moves excess water away from your house and foundation. Sump pumps sit inside a sump pit, usually in the lowest part of the house. When the pit fills, the pump’s sensor or activator turns on the pump. The pump then pumps the water out of the pit, through the pipes, and away from your house and foundation. Sump pumps work effectively and provide a reliable solution to preventing flooding. Depending on your pump, they last anywhere from five to twenty-five years. However, neglected maintenance on your sump pump decreases the lifespan and increases the chance
    of pump failure. Experts recommend more frequent maintenance on your pump during times of frequent use. With the heavy rain in Pennsylvania over the last year, your pump worked overtime to keep your basement dry. Consider a maintenance check on your sump pump soon to prevent unforeseen pump failure and inches of water in your basement.
  2. Hot Water Heaters: Hot water heaters provide our homes with hot water for all purposes from showering to cooking. Like sump pumps, they last for a decent chunk of time, anywhere from eight to twelve years. Proper maintenance helps prevent unforeseen bursts and basement flooding. Often the heaters show signs of need for replacement before bursting. Corrosive minerals eat away at the heater’s interior and cause issues that lead to the tank bursting or its internal systems failing. Based on a standard maintenance check, plumbers and specialists can predict the remaining lifespan of hot water heaters and recommend replacing or repairing the heater before any serious issues, like flooding, occur.
  3. Old or Cracked Pipes: Older pipes run the risk of cracking due to age. Other factors such as freezing or accidental damage may cause cracks as well.

The classic book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, preaches the importance of proactivity, and when it comes to preventing basement flooding, proactivity is the best defense. Often, unforeseeable circumstances surprise us and leave us wading around the water in our basements, cursing, and muttering the standard cliché, “Just my luck”. Unfortunately, life happens, and it is impossible to prevent all basement flooding; however, proactively maintaining your house’s plumbing saves hours of time, thousands of dollars, and a few choice words. A small investment in a long-term maintenance plan allows for Tim Dean Plumbing to conduct an onsite view and inspection of the plumbing systems in your house. A thorough inspection often reveals telling signs of wear, tear, and decay in your plumbing systems. Think of flood prevention like your teeth. If you do the routine maintenance at the dentist, they catch cavities in their early stages and they prevent major operations like a root canal or tooth extraction. Similarly, routine maintenance and upkeep on your sump pump, water heater, and piping reveals warning signals and allows for us to address the issue before you find yourself knee deep in the water without your butt in the sand.