As winter gives way to spring, the threat of water
'Most people believe that after the snow melts that the threat of basement flooding goes away,' explains O'Donohue. 'But snow usually isn't the issue; it's the combination of the frozen ground thawing around the foundation of the home and the arrival of heavy spring rains that cause problems.' 'As the soil thaws it is overly saturated with water. When a spring rain adds another inch or two on top of it the water finds the easiest path to flow. This is usually along your home's foundation down to the basement level and into your sump pump basin. If your sump pump fails, you'll have a major water damage problem on your hands.' 'Sump pump failure is one of the most common causes for basement water damage in and around Livingston County,' says O'Donohue. 'The number of calls we receive for basement water damage clean up explodes when spring arrives. And a majority of the time the cause is a sump pump problem. We've been called to homes with beautiful finished basements that have been filled with 4 inches of water. It's a heartbreaking site that is very expensive to fix.' A sump pump is a last defense against flooding because it pumps out water from the lowest section of the basement before the water level reaches the basement floor level. As groundwater levels rise it is diverted into the sump hole. When the water reaches what is called 'the critical level', the sump pump begins to pump it out through a pipe that leads outside and away from your foundation. Just a few inches of water in a basement can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage. According to the Insurance Information Institute, water damage including sump pump overflow, frozen, burst pipes has accounted for about 22 percent of all residential insurance claims. The average claim was for $5,531. However, most homeowners often overlook this on their policy and don't have protection against such damage. 'The inability of a sump pump to handle runoff water from major downpours is not covered under a typical homeowner's insurance policy, nor are they covered by flood insurance,' said David Walker with Hartland Insurance Agency. 'This type of coverage must be purchased either as a separate product or as an endorsement to a homeowner's policy.' A standard homeowner's policy will not have coverage for a sump pump, or any existing drainage system. This includes a back up through any drain, sink discharge, toilet, or sump pump failure. According to the Chubb Insurance Group, 37% of homeowners have experience some type of home water damage and 51% say their losses were not covered by their insurance policy. The average lifespan of a sump pump is about 10 years, and they do eventually wear out. But, most sump pump problems can be avoided by a few regular maintenance checks and can easily be fixed by the homeowner. Here's a list of common sump pump problems and solutions for each. Before performing any sump pump maintenance, be sure to unplug any electrical power leading to the unit. 'If more people would maintain their sump pumps like they do their automobile, they could save a lot of money and stress,' claims O'Donohue. 'A water damage restoration situation can really turn the lives of a family upside down for a few weeks. Preventing the problem by checking the condition of their sump pump should be on their spring to-do list every year.'