A drain tile system is one of the three key components to a home’s water management system (gutters and grading being the other two). Not every home has one. Not every home needs one. But if you have a drain tile system installed in your home, you want to make sure the system is always working properly. That means it has to be able to pump out water that collects in the sump basket and discharge it to the home’s exterior.
When inspecting homes with a drain tile system, surprisingly, one of the most common defects I find is a missing sump pump. There was a period when builders were required to install drain tile and a sump basket as part of new construction, but apparently the pumps and discharge pipes were somehow left for the new owner to install to complete the system. The problem is, many homeowners never did this. I find this defect a lot, particularly on townhouse inspections.
Another reason for a missing sump pump is that a previous pump has burned out. Pumps are removed but never replaced. Maybe the thinking is that the basement has never been wet before and it’s not needed. That’s a big mistake.
Whenever I inspect a home with a missing sump pump, I flat out tell my clients the drain tile system is defective and a pump has to be installed. Even if there are no signs that the basement has ever been wet. Even if the the sump basket is bone dry. I can’t predict the weather. And I can’t predict how much snow melt or rain fall there will be in any given year. A history of a dry basement is no guarantee that it will always be that way. Case in point: the first home I ever bought for myself was built in 1938. I bought the home from the children of the original owner who had recently passed away. The week of closing, the basement flooded. The adult children who had all grown up in that home swore that the basement had never had water in it for 60 years. My response: Well, it does now.
If you have a drain tile system installed in your home, don’t take chances. If you don’t have a pump, get one installed. Its the only way that system can operate as designed to keep your basement dry. The cost of a pump and discharge pipe is cheap insurance and will cost a lot less than dealing with a wet basement.