Some things in your home are easy to ignore – until you have a problem. And at the top of the list its easy to find a sump pump.

“What is it?” and “Why do I need one?” are only the beginning of the most commonly asked questions about sump pumps. Especially in Colorado, where we know we live in a predominantly dry area, do we really need to worry about flooding in our home’s basement or crawl space?

Yes. Even though we live in a dry climate, our local communities are filled with underground water tables and rivers. If communities are built too close to a water table, you could be living with moisture in your basement every year, especially in the years we do have higher than average snow and rainfall.

What exactly is a sump pump and what is its purpose?  Sump pumps are electrical pumps that are usually located in basements to drain water out in case of flooding.  In areas where flooding is common, the pump is generally located below the water line or may be placed below the sewer line. The main goal is to eliminate the possibility of water overflowing into your living areas, and prevent damage to your personal property and assets. Even an inch of standing water can be detrimental in a finished basement with furniture and carpeting.

How should I maintain my sump pump? Typically sump pumps will operate up to a period of five years maintenance free.  Yet it’s important to check them yearly, especially before rainy seasons, or times of the year when you are more susceptible to flooding. Cleaning the sump pit (the hole dug into the ground to collect water) from debris will keep the pump working in most cases.  Dirt, sand, and gravel may accumulate within the pump itself, clogging the pump to the point of making it inoperable. A routine check by a plumber can give you piece of mind.

What choices do I have in sump pumps? Generally speaking, there are two types of sump pumps.  The pedestal style pump sits in an upright position on top of the sump pit.  The advantage of a pedestal sump pump is it can be easily seen and maintained.  The second type of sump pump is called a submersible sump pump, which is located down inside the sump pit.  It’s usually enclosed in a sealed housing unit to prevent electrical short circuits when water collects in the pit. Ask your plumber what’s the right choice for you.