Sump What? What You Need to Know About Sump Pumps

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We’ve had record amounts of rainfall this past summer. Colorado is known for its sunshine, 2nd behind in Florida with nearly 300 days of sunshine a year. However, this past summer was a bit different. In July, 6.23 inches of rainfall compared to our normal 2.83 inches fell (usclimatedata.com). By the middle of August, we already had 2.02 inches of rainfall. That's .41 inches from the total amount of rainfall we had in August of last year. AND it's .29 inches MORE than the total rainfall in August of 2015. This last week of September carrying over to the beginning of October brought us more cloudy, Seattle-like weather with grey skies and even more rain

Colorado Springs ended September with 1.6 inches of rainfall. Our normal September rainfall? 1.18 inches.

We can all agree that rain is better than forest fires, so I'm thankful we've had a good amount this year. We've had a true monsoon season which is typical in these parts during July and early August. Yet, it was more than a typical monsoon season by 3 and a half inches. That's A LOT of rain for a high desert mountain climate.

So, YAY for rain. It makes “Colorful Colorado” just that -- COLORFUL!

The grass is growing with less water from our sprinklers, the trees and bushes are greener, the wildflowers are blooming everywhere, and the red rocks seem more vibrant with all that color popping in and around them. Colorful Colorado is showing up in all its glory. And now we’re enjoying fall with some vibrant, stunning colors throughout aspen groves as far as the eye can see. Lots of rain makes for a stunning fall season around here.

With all this rain it may mean beautiful colors everywhere you look outdoors and lack of forest fires, but it does come with other challenges. Flooding! Which is so hard to comprehend in such a dry climate that we would deal with floods. I grew up in Louisiana, so I totally get floods. Not only would neighborhoods flood anytime there was the smallest of hurricanes, sometimes a bit too much rain on any given day would flood certain parts of town. When you live at a low level, sometimes below sea level, tropical climate area floods are to be expected.

Floods in a High Mountain, Arid Desert? Yup!

In Colorado Springs it has always seemed so strange that anything would flood. I am always using so much lotion, chapstick, eye drops, and other products to keep from shriveling up in this dry climate! How could we flood in such a dry place? Well, it's our soil. In most of Colorado, we have expansive soils. Basically, the ground here is laced with layers of various types of clay (Homeowners Guide to Soil in CO). This type of soil doesn't like too much water too fast. It doesn't drain the water quickly. The water it does take on causes it to swell. And due to our semi-arid climate, usually, a good amount of the water runs right off it like you got a Rain X windshield treatment. Then that runoff follows the path of least resistance and piles up somewhere. And wherever that somewhere is...well, it causes floods and expands the soil in that area. Bottom line…

Too much water too fast...NOT a good thing.

That brings us to the actual topic of this post. Sump pumps. With all the water that has accumulated around your house’s foundation in July, August, and September, it is a critical part of protecting your home from water damage and maintaining the structural integrity of your home. 

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump removes water that has accumulated in a water-collection system's basin. And it's a key component to protecting from water damage not only in your space and personal items located in the lowest level of a home but also critical to the protecting your most important structural feature in a home -- your foundation. What does that word "sump" mean?

Sump. That was a funny word to me for a long time too. In this context, "sump" refers to a low area that collects unwanted water.

Kinda like swamp...but sump. Low area that collects water. 

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

The sump pump system located in a basin at the lowest level of your home. Usually, you find the basin in a crawl space or basement. As we covered above, the sump refers to the low-level area. In that basin, you'll find the pumps. Comprised of the main and a secondary backup pump, the sump pump is part of the overall water collection and removal system.  These pumps in the basin, remove all the water collected in the basin from the drain pipes or tiles located around the perimeter of your home’s foundation.

Your main sump pump runs off of an electrical connection. The pump has a dedicated electrical connection or plugs into a wall outlet. It sits in the bottom of the water-collection basin, and when the water level gets high enough a switch is triggered. The most common trigger is a float switch. Once triggered, it pumps water out of the basin through the discharge pipe outside to a safe point away from your home. There should always be a check valve on the discharge pipe to make sure water only runs in one direction -- out.

Any sump pump system should include a battery backup. This is critical! It's not a matter of if but when your main pump will have some sort of failure. The primary pump can fail due to a switch failure, main pump clog, main pump dies, or loss of electrical power. And that last reason the main pump could fail is all too common during storms when you're getting the most amount of rainfall accumulating in your water collection system. It has its own trigger switch, discharge pipe, and check valve.

Again, your sump pump system is NOT complete without a battery backup pump.

Why Are Sump Pumps Are Important?

Protecting your home from unwanted water in and around the foundation is CRITICAL! And, of course, no one wants water to get in their home causing damage to walls, flooring furniture, personal belongs, etc. And here in Colorado, water accumulation in the soil around your home affects the expansion of the ground which impacts your foundation and the structural integrity of your home.

There are many important choices a homeowner can make to protect your home from water damage. Sump Pumps may be at the very top of that list!

If you have any other questions about sump pumps or other ways to protect your home, please contact me! As your neighborhood Realtor, I'm not only interested in helping you buy or sell a home, I want to make sure you are an educated Buyer and have your eyes open during any real estate transaction.

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