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Living Smart: Sump Pumps

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By Angie Hicks

Several factors could cause the sump pump to fail, which could easily lead to thousands of dollars in water damage. They often die on their own, typically after about five years, though some can last decades; mechanical switches can stick and corrode from hard water elements; and the pump can become clogged from sticks and debris that enter the pit. An electrically powered backup sump pump offers an additional layer of protection against those scenarios.

The most common issue, though, is when the electrically powered sump pump fails to operate because of a power outage. For homeowners in storm-heavy regions of the country, or for those who experience regular power outages, a battery back-up pump offers additional security. They also cost twice as much as a standard sump pump, which ranges from $100 to $500, depending on its pumping capacity.

Sump pits must be large enough to accommodate a backup pump.

“Sometimes, that is an issue and they have to remove it and replace it with a little bit bigger pit,” Mitchell says.

Checking if your sump pump is working is easy. Though different pumps have different ways you can manually turn them on to test them, a universally accepted method is to pour water down into the sump pit until it reaches the level of pump. The pump should automatically power on and begin pumping.

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