Spring has sprung, and no one is happier about it than those of us who live in cold-weather climates. Having been shut inside during the dreadful cold of winter, most of us take the chance to get out into our yards and patios as soon as the snow has melted.
While dusting off your patio furniture and bringing out yard tools from the garage feels fun and exciting, it’s easy to forget that early spring almost always includes excess water from melting snow and freeze-thaw cycles that can lead to flooding in your home.
So, while you are enjoying being out in the yard and having the inaugural beer on the deck, also remember there are a couple of home maintenance items that are important to pay attention to early in the season that will help protect your home from spring flooding.
Outdoor Water Taps
It’s not quite pool season, so you need to be careful that your eagerness doesn’t result in a flooded basement or soaked walls.
A common way that house foundations are damaged is by a burst hose bib. A hose bib is the exterior faucet on the side of your house. In early spring when the weather warms to well above zero, many people are eager to get out and start their spring clean-up with the hose.
Whether it’s washing the car, hosing off the deck or spring-cleaning the siding, your hose is one of the first things brought out for yard work.
And, while it’s ok to use your hose during the day when it is warm, springtime temperatures are still very fluctuating, and it’s almost guaranteed that temperatures will go back down to freezing multiple times–especially overnight.
It’s important to remember to never leave your hose connected to the hose bib when the temperatures are still likely to get close to the freezing point, and even more important not to leave the tap ON when the hose is not in use.
Doing so may cause the hose bib to freeze and burst, leaving water to flow inside your house. Often you will not notice this has happened until the damage is severe, so be vigilant with disconnecting your hose in early spring after every use!
A sump-pump is used to remove water away from your home and usually resides in the basement. The sump is a hole that is dug below the foundation of the house that is designed to collect excess water and to hold the pump. The pump itself is placed inside the sump and is the mechanism that pumps the excess water out and away from your home’s foundation.
If you live in a house with a sump-pump you know how easy it is to forget it’s even there. But keeping an eye on your sump-pump can be the difference between a dry basement or one that is covered in a few inches of water.
How to check it.
Check your sump-pump every year in early spring by lifting the float switch. It’s especially important to check it when there is a large volume of snow melting or if it is a particularly rainy spring, as the amount of water run-off in early spring can be substantial.
The pump should start up when you lift the float; if it doesn’t that means you need to repair or replace the pump. Be sure to do this immediately so your basement doesn’t flood.
Back up your sump-pump.
Sump-pumps are an excellent way to manage excess water from coming into your home, but they aren’t foolproof. If the pump has a mechanical failure, if there is no power, or if there is more water coming into the sump than the pump can handle you are going to have a problem.
It’s a good idea to invest in a secondary, battery powered pump that can act as a backup to kick in if the primary pump stops operating. It’s also there to start up in case there is ever too much water for one pump to handle.
Using a sump alarm is another alternative back-up if you don’t have a secondary battery-operated pump or if you just want added peace of mind. There are different types of sump alarms to choose from.
A traditional alarm is triggered also by using a float switch. If water rises too high, the float switch will trigger a very loud sound that you will be able to hear from anywhere in your house.
A more modern approach are Wi-Fi alarms. These alarms are also installed in your sump pit but send notification to your phone when there is a problem rather than setting off an alarm from the basement. These are also a great option for those that own cabins or rental properties.