The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Prepare for the spring melt down

We've had quite a bit of snow this winter and a possibility of more on the way between now and spring. With the potential for a lot of moisture soaking into the ground around your home a wet basement is the last thing you will want to complicate your life.

Many newer homes are built with the addition of a sump pit in the basement but usually do not come with a pump. It is left for the homeowner to determine if they need one and to have it installed.

With the spring thaw (can't wait!!!) a few weeks away one of the most important maintenance tasks a homeowner can accomplish to prepare for the melting snow is to ensure their sump pump is operational. A sump pump is normally located in a "sump pit." This is usually in the basement under a round plastic lid and has an electrical cord and a drain pipe routing through it (if a pump is installed). The purpose of the pump/pit is to collect water that normally would enter the basement and pump it out to a location in the yard keeping moisture out of the basement. Not all homes have a sump pump though.

The sump pump system is very susceptible to failure due to long periods of inactivity and "critters" such as rodents and bugs clogging the drain pipe. The maintenance is very easy for most homeowners.

1. Remove the lid to the sump pit and remove any debris that might clog up the pump.

2. Slowly pour at least 3 gallons of water into the pit to verify the pump automatically operates and evacuates the water from the pit. If it does not operate have the pump serviced or replaced before the big meltdown.

During warmer weather it is a good idea to run a garden hose to the pit letting a slow stream of water run and allow the pump to operate more than a few moments at a time. This will also lubricate the seals and knock off any build-up of calcium that may have accumulated inside the pump.  The drain end (outside) can be a nice nesting place for bugs and critters so a screened end cap is recommended.