Is your sump pump running?

With all the large rainfall events of the past year we have received many calls relating to sump pumps and wet basements. With this in mind, I offer the following general tips to help you review your property and reduce or hopefully eliminate your water problems.

Look at the big picture of your lot and the general area. Often time’s water from other lots or adjacent lands flow through your land by design and or in accordance with drainage laws. Items like improper grading, raised gardens, sandboxes and other structures can block or divert flows. Note: Overland water flows will cause the least damage when they flow in established grassed swales.

Settlements related to sewer and water service installation, home construction and areas of ponding water in your lawn above the elevation of your lowest floor elevation should be repaired ASAP.

With the above in mind and now thinking about the under ground storm sewer system (catch basin and pipes). It is important to keep storm sewer inlets on or adjacent to your property clean and free of debris as part of your lawn care routine, if there is a large problem contact the City. Also if you have water that flows through you property, it may wash items like compost, firewood, plantings and toys downstream plugging inlets and causing unnecessary flooding.

Control where the water from your roof goes. Rain gutters can help shed water away from your foundation, install downspout extensions at least 6 feet long and extending beyond any landscaping. If you have no gutters, insure that the soil or landscaping around the perimeter of your entire home slopes away from the foundation, rule of thumb if you can’t clearly see the slope with your eye its not sloped enough. Technically, I would recommend 6 inches or more of fall in the first 10 feet away from your foundation.

Perimeter landscaping tips; Plan to keep 4 inches of separation from the top of your landscaping to your siding; this will reduce the potential for rotting wood products on your home. Compact the existing soil well, in the area within 6 feet of the entire perimeter of your home before and during landscaping, utilize clay soils on the top 4 inches or heavy plastic sheeting to reduce water from percolating down, keep your eye on this key area as this is the area excavated to lay the foundation of your home and may settle for a many as 10 years after construction. If installing landscaping edging insure that it is not acting like a dam, holding water inside the landscaped area. Cut or drill holes on black plastic below the round top. On all edging leave gaps or a low point for water to drain out.

Window wells should be set above grade, have a watertight seal to the foundation and most likely have some type of light transmitting cover. For safety these covers must be easily removable if the window is an egress type.

Sump pump discharge lines should extend 6 or more feet away from your foundation and discharge on a slope away from your foundation and others. If your pump runs often and is causing a soggy lawn for you or others, hopefully the above tips will help. If not, most new subdivisions have drain tile below the curb that may be connected to allow for an underground discharge line. Contact the City Engineering office if you would like to make a connection to this facility. Note: it is against City Ordinance to discharge your sump pump into the Sanitary Sewer System, for example your floor drain, washtub or other drain inside your home.

The problems associated with high ground water tables (these fluctuate with the rainfall from year to year) or water trapped within layers of sand (perched water or springs) are items that may require more complicated measures and will usually present problems starting after periods of excessive annual rainfall events which raise ground water levels and then may cause no problems after the ground water returns to normal.

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