Pros advise residents of sump pump maintenance to avoid basement flooding

Officially, 30 inches of snow gone in three weeks. Some of that snowmelt might be seeping into basements.
Published: May. 1, 2023 at 7:57 PM AKDT|Updated: May. 1, 2023 at 8:00 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Nature has done a remarkable job in melting all the snow that fell throughout winter. The 30 inches of snow we had on the ground at the beginning of April has all but melted away, leaving just a trace — officially — at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.

While great to see the snow gone, all that water has to go somewhere. Water that isn’t running off into streams or through street drains usually ends up in the ground.

But issues arise when the ground is not permeable due to already being saturated with water. This happens when temperatures aren’t cold enough to freeze a deep layer of the ground before the first significant snowfall, which provides insulation that prevents the ground from freezing farther down.

Bottom line; the water table in the ground has increased and that water could seep into a home’s basement or crawlspace.

Matt Schumaker with Mountain Mechanical says homeowners who see seasonal water incursions can install a sump pump to remove the excess water.

“Individuals who have basements or crawl spaces can possibly see water development within the structure,” Schumaker said. “Places that have problems with water will tend to have sump pumps — we hope that the sump pumps are still working.”

Schumaker said a pump system is only as good as its maintenance.

“Things to look out for if you do have a sump pump would be to make sure that the electrical circuit’s still working, make sure you exercise the pump — pour water down there to test it, make sure it’s not frozen, and things like that,” he said.

Water tables can change over time due to a number of factors, so even homes without prior flooding issues can be susceptible.

Regardless, if you do notice water in your crawl space or basement, Shumaker suggests calling a professional rather than trying to figure it out yourself.

“If you do develop water in your basement or your crawlspace there are companies that can come pump the water out to where it can be deemed safe for somebody go down into that environment to then address the issue that’s at hand,” Schumaker said. “Whether it’s to install a new sump pump down there where you’ve never had one before, or replace the one that’s currently down there, or to see why what’s going on what and what’s happening.

“But the big thing is if your crawlspace is full of water, I would not go down there till it’s been evacuated and it’s save to save to enter.”

Schumaker advises those with sump pumps to keep equipment on a circuit that’s protected in a wet environment, and make sure the pump’s discharge is at least five feet away from the home.