The rain has been here for the last 6 months – so it seems, if it is any sort of truthful indication, it’s going to be a busy winter in the Lower Mainland. Global Weather patterns are constantly changing and our ten year rain events seem to happen more than once every ten years.
The issue is that a lot of the flooding is preventable. There’s no way we can get around to everyone experiencing flood problems and drainage issues fast enough, so that’s why we’re putting the onus on you, loyal reader, to take action. Maintain your drainage before the rains start, that doesn’t mean in late November. If your connection to the municipal storm infrastructure is higher than your basement, crawl space or floor elevation, you probably have a pump system. Thats not always the case, but its probably worth while checking it out. Installing and maintaining a residential pump system before you flood is essential. Here are four keys to make your investment worthwhile and operate like it should.
1. Back-Up Pumps
Sorry, one pump isn’t going to cut it. As we saw with the power outages after the storm on November 17th a few years back, a single pump that fails can have disastrous results. It happens, and it’s frustrating, but that’s the reality in this climate. A mechanically-operated backup pump will ensure water is pumped away from your home in the event your only pump gets jammed or stops working entirely. Some municipalities only requires one pump – we always recommend a second backup pump.
2. High Level Alarm
Now that we’re certain we’ll have at least one pump operating at all times, it’s nice to know we’ll be alerted should water levels rise too high. A high level alarm indicates when groundwater is exceeding critical levels so you can plan accordingly. If groundwater around your home is rising faster than your system can cope, or your flows to your pump station exceed your pumps capacity, you’ll need a more robust system. Determining ground water flows are a science, and sometimes subsurface flows change. Good thing we can help with that.
3. Duplex Panels
Alright, we have a backup and we’ll be informed when groundwater is on the rise. The next step: automation. Duplex panels control the programmable logic centre attached to your pumps. They function by cycling the work back and forth between your pumps so each gets equal wear. Basically, you’re getting double the benefit of your pumps and your system will last twice as long. Duplex panels can also be designed so an alarm is triggered when one of your pumps fails. Typically, pumps last between five and ten years or maybe 20,000 hours, depending on usage and type of fluid being pumped, so you’ll get more peace of mind if you’re cycling back and forth. If your duplex panel has a short alarm, that means that one pump is not operating. This could be from excessive wear, debris caught in the pump, or maybe one of the floats has failed or is caught up. Thats why a duplex panel is so critical in the overall operation of a drainage pump station.
4. Emergency Generators
We wrote about these after the big storm a little while ago, and sadly, not enough people were using emergency generators. Don’t wait until something fails. Backup pumps, high level alarms and duplex panels all help in the event of a disaster, but equipment can still fail under the stress of water flow it can’t handle when there is no power coming to the system. “Our new Automatic Transfer Switch System (ATSS) operates through our Microprocessor Control Panel (MCP) to automatically switch your pump circuit to a natural gas generator during power outages.” This is automatic. You can be at work, on holidays or just taking your dog for a walk. When the power goes out for a variety of reasons (check BC Hydros power outage link), know that your home will be secure with 24/7 power protection. We use Cummins Home Standby Generators. Safe, reliable and easy to maintain. Please, don’t wait for the next outage.
Alright, Am I Secure?
Without a residential drainage system your probability of flooding skyrockets. These aren’t the prairies, folks, and we don’t live on the top of a hill. And even still, electrical and mechanical equipment fails. You need to maintain your system and perform regular checks whenever the seasons change. Cheap pumps that don’t perform under the (literal) pressure will just end up costing more than they’re worth in the long run. A regular commercial grade drainage pump can cost between $550 to $1800 depending on size and horsepower. No matter what your budget is, make sure you’re getting something that can handle the Lower Mainland fall and spring rains. Because at some point, when theres a rainfall warning, when the wind blows, when the creeks surge and the snow melts, you’ll be glad you did.