During the phone call I was thinking this is why to get a battery back up for your sump pump.
A client called with an issue they wanted me to investigate and suggest a remedy. My remedy was a back-up battery!
It works simply - the sump pump is plugged into a battery which is plugged into the wall. Theoretically it is always charged. My understanding is that it will give up to 72 hours of protection.
When I see a battery back up during a home inspection, inevitably the client will ask why they have it. My answer is, "Life experience."
When I arrived drywall and insulation had been removed throughout the basement by a restoration contractor. I noticed between 2" and 3" of staining on all the walls in the basement.
Wednesday night we had a serious rainstorm with very high winds. We received approximately 2"of rain during the night.
Also, during the night, the power went out at this house because in the morning they noticed all the clocks blinking.
These homeowners have been in their house for five years during which time the basement never had a leak. Even during Sandy. But during Sandy their power did not go out.
And they didn't have a leak now! The power went out!
When there is no power there is no sump pump.
When there is no sump pump and hundreds of gallons of water are pouring all around the foundation from the downspouts, it will go into the drain tiles around the house. The drain tiles are intended to divert that rain water into the sump pump, which dutifully pumps it away from the house.
Typically water in a sump pump pit is fairly clear. It is moving water, continuously flowing during heavy rains, and does not get muddy.
Noticing the muddy tubing and mechanisms in the sump pump pit and the backed-up mud at the stairwell drain, it was obvious that water sat and accumulated and came in. Water at the stairwell should not be muddy either as it would flow normally toward the sump pump. But this stairwell had obviously backed up.
The restoration contractor who had pulled out the carpeting and pad said that it was muddiest near the door.
Doors are fairly water resistant, but not waterproof should water rise high enough to overcome the lip at the door. It will come in, and did in this house. You can see the mud stain on the foundation wall beside the door, about 3" high.
The basement is about 1200 square feet. Calculating 219 cubic inches per gallon, 2" of water in this basement would represent about 175 gallons and 3" about 263 gallons. It was a mess!
They had me look at the walls with my thermal camera to make sure they had removed enough drywall and insulation to dry the place out. And they had. Driers and blowers were set in place, along with a good-looking HEPA filter for the air.
My recommendation: the time to get a battery back up for your sump pump is long before any predicted storm. There is usually a good supply at my local hardware stores. BUT NOT JUST BEFORE BIG STORMS! It might be prudent to have one anyway and not worry about if this or that storm might cause a problem. It comes down to Robert Baden-Powell's famous Boy Scout Motto: Be Prepared.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560