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Kaplan ITA's Monthly Inspection Tips - Free Electronic Newsletter

June, 2004
Sump Pumps
Issue #26

Dear Inspector,

This month I would like to discuss sump pumps. With all the rain the last month or so here in the Mid-Atlantic area many of us are much more aware of sump pumps lately.

Typical battery backup pump suspended by the piping above the primary pump. The foundation drain inlet to the sump is visible at the left.

Most Home Inspection Standards of Practice hardly mention sump pumps. Some indicate we should note the location, that's it. My interpretation, particularly in a house with a basement, is that the sump pump is a critical part of the foundation drainage system and should be mentioned in the report. This includes location of the sump (sometimes called a crock) and pump, as well as client direction to check them for proper operation periodically. I usually do not remove the sump cover, although lately I am doing that more, particularly in new homes as I often find there is no pump in the sump. Seems kind of critical to me to have a pump if there is a sump installed to attract the water. Not to mention that the 2003 IRC requires a sump pump in a house with a basement built in an area with other than group one (well draining) soils.

I try to locate the pump discharge termination. My opinion is the farther from the house the better, anything less than twenty feet I recommend extending to prevent recycling of the water.

Typical pump location with battery
and charger/control assembly.

Many of you may find dewatering sump pumps not located in basements. Many times when I was inspecting in Southern California I would find sump pumps in the yard or in pits. These pumps should be identified to the client with a recommendation to inspect for operation periodically.

If the basement is finished, or I see storage or critical equipment in the basement, I strongly recommend a back up battery style pump. Once a pump fails, or even if the house loses power for a short period of time, the basement could flood causing a myriad of mechanical and potentially health problems. Speaking of electrical, if I find sump pumps plugged into GFCI protected receptacles I recommend the pump be supplied with power independent of the GFCI protected circuit. Motors tend to create surges that can trip GFCI devices at very inopportune times.

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We'll talk next month,

Mike Casey
Kaplan Professional Schools
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