Water-related claims are quickly out-pacing fire losses in terms of both frequency and severity in loss. Before the rainy days of Autumn arrive, now is a good time to consider installing a sump pump or ensure that your existing one is in good working order. But the question remains: Is a sump pump necessary in your home? Here’s a look at what these pumps are and factors that you should consider in order to decide whether you should add additional coverage to your home insurance.
What is a sump pump?
Sumps are spaces designed to collect liquid; in houses, they are pits dug in the basement that will collect water that filters through the loose earth outside your home. A sump pump is a pump that prevents water from damaging your house by flood. The pump itself typically features a check valve, which prevents back-flow of the water back into the pit, causing the pump to work harder. Without it, the accumulation of water can lead to damage, mould, and mildew growth. However, not all homes have them – if you live in a dry area or the builders did not see one as a necessary addition, you wouldn’t have one.
Types of sump pumps
There are two primary types:
- Submersible pump: The pump motor is located inside the sump pit and can be completely submersed in water.
- Column-style or pedestal pump: The pump motor is above the pit and cannot be covered by water. It instead has a long sleeve or column which sits in the sump pit.
What are the benefits of a sump pump?
- Prevents flooding from rainwater
- Protects against sewage backups
- Keeps basement humidity levels low
- Reduces the risk of mold and mildew growth
- Keeps floodwater out of basement
- Improves indoor air quality by reducing humidity levels
Did you know that at least 60% of homeowners have moisture problems in their basement? The higher the moisture and humidity levels are, the higher the likelihood of mold and mildew growth. A sump pump is your guard against these home disasters.
When would I need a one?
If you have a finished basement, previous water problems, or live in a location with heavy rain or snow, you may want to consider investing in a sump pump if there is not one already.
With this device, you can reduce the below water and moisture-related problems in your home:
- Wood rot
- Wood-destroying insects
- Insects and animals that are attracted to stagnant water
- Mould and mildew
- Electrical damage and potential fire hazards
How does a sump pump work?
When the water in the sump reaches a certain level, a pressure sensor will activate the pump, emptying the pit of water. Much like a toilet tank, water will stop filling the tank once the sensor or floater reaches the fill line. The motor of a sump pump is powered by electricity, so they need to be plugged into a standard outlet. Additionally, most sump pumps come equipped with battery backup. This is essential if the flooding you’re experiencing has also taken the power out. A sump pump, once activated, will pump the water to a discharge pipe leading to the outside of your house.
Are sump pumps mandatory in Ontario?
Sump pumps have been required by the Ontario Building Code since 2017, so they’re standard in all new homes (and necessary in many older ones). Typically, they drain excess water through a discharge pipe that diverts it away from your foundation.
Do I need sewer backup insurance?
Sewer backup insurance can be added to your home insurance policy; insurance companies usually will offer you a discount if you have taken preventative measures to protect your home – alarmed sump pumps and pits – are included. However, it is important to note that depending on your policy, sewer backup coverage exclusions can come into play. If there is a pump failure, meaning if it fails due to break down or power failure, the exclusion may apply.
It’s important to maintain your equipment
Sump pumps are part of your home’s essential equipment, like your furnace or your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. They need to be regularly checked, operated and maintained to ensure that they are in good working order when you need them. Pump failure is one of the most common causes of basement flooding. Be sure to inspect your sump pump on a regular basis — especially ahead of (and during) the spring thaw — to make sure that it is working properly and the well is free of debris. Check them regularly, as they typically last only 10-15 years.
Ensure your sump pump is placed on a steady, flat brick. Also, the sump basin should have a filter fabric around it to stop debris from coming in.
Have a backup power source
If your power goes out, your sump will not run unless you have a backup power system in place. Unfortunately, the power is more likely to go out during a storm, which is also the time you need your sump pump the most. As a result, it is essential that you have a backup for it. There are two main types of backups: one operates by battery, the other by pressure in your water system. A generator can also be used to provide backup power to your pump, if it is installed properly. All plumbing is different, so a plumber can help you determine what is best for your home. Keep in mind, if your basement floods due to neglect and breakage occurs, your property insurance may not cover the damage.
The costs of sump pump failure
A failure in your system will cause water to back up into your basement. In a report conducted by cbc.ca, the Christmas 2013 ice storm cost property insurers in Canada $225 million in claims, roughly half of which were due to sump pump failures. The average cost of water damage claims in Canada has increased by 40 percent over the last 10 years.
In order to keep your basement safe from potential water damage, it is critical to equip your home with protection against water damage. So, to answer the question “is a sump pump necessary in my home?” The answer will be yes in most cases because a sump pump plays a crucial role in keeping excess water out of your home. Some insurers offer discounts on specific setups and for having a battery backup model. Please speak to our isure representatives to ensure you are optimizing savings and safety on your next water damage insurance quote.