WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15, 2016
Sump pumps provide peace of mind to residential and commercial property owners. Most of the time sump pumps do the job they’re intended to do, which is to prevent a basement from flooding by removing water that collects in the sump basin and extracting it through a hose to an exterior location. But when a sump pump fails, the results can be disastrous. A flood in your home or business due to a sump pump failure can be devastating. It can cause extensive permanent damage to your property and disruption to your home life and business operations if not cleaned and remediated right away. If the water damage is not completely treated and dried, you could also find yourself with a secondary problem from mold and mildew.
What is a Sump Pump?
A sump pump is a submersible pump that sits at the bottom of a sump pit, which is typically installed at the lowest point in your basement or crawl space. Ground water surrounding your home’s foundation is channeled into a perimeter drain system installed at the base of the foundation. Water finds its way into the perforated drainpipes and is quickly diverted to the sump pit. The sump pump, which is triggered by a float switch, removes the water by pumping it to the nearest storm drain, dry well or detention pond. A sump pump turns on only when water inside the sump pit reaches a pre-determined level. Most new homes are equipped with sump pumps but older homes can be retrofitted with a sump system to prevent basement flooding.
Types of Sump Pumps
There are 3 types of sump pumps. The pedestal pump, submersible pump, and ejector pump.
If your pump sits on a pedestal and stands about 30 inches tall with a hose or pipe connected to the motor and extends down into a “sump pit,” you have a pedestal pump. This is a very common style of pump. The motor on a pedestal pump is not intended to be in the water. As the water level rises, it activates a “float switch” which activates the pump. Then, the water is pumped out through a pipe or hose out and away from the building.
If your pump actually sits on the bottom of the sump pit, you have a submersible pump. This pump is much smaller than the pedestal variety, usually standing about 12 inches high. Usually, there is a 4 inch rod extending up from the pump with a float device attached. When the water reaches the float it activates the pump. The water is sucked down through the bottom of the pump. A screen at the bottom of the pump stops gravel from being sucked in.
Most commonly found in crawlspaces, ejector pumps consist of pea gravel, this type of pump is able to handle small debris being sucked into the pump without damaging the impeller or other mechanisms within the pump.
Picking a Sump Pump
Manual vs. Automatic: In nearly all circumstances, an automatic sump pump is superior. The additional cost is minimal and the peace of mind is invaluable. Manual sump pumps are typically only used for catastrophic events such as river flooding. Of course, just because a sump pump is “automatic” doesn’t mean it will always work. The water sensing mechanism can easily malfunction due to clogging and render the unit useless.
Single vs. Primary W/ Backup: Recently, many homeowners have started installing sump pumps with a secondary backup unit. These two stage units were designed to address the fairly common occurrence of a mechanical failure. Unlike other household appliances, if a sump pump fails, it will usually lead to an extremely expensive flooding event.
Electric Only vs. Battery Backup: What happens when the same storm that threatens to flood your basement also knocked out power to your home? Unless a battery backup is in place, the sump pump will fail. This is a fairly rare event of course, and many home owners elect to forego the extra protection. Base your decision on the likelihood of power outages.
Sewer vs. Storm Drain: In the past, sump pumps were just piped into the existing sewer line running out from the house. This worked well until the local water treatment plants ran out of capacity. In response, many municipalities created laws banning sump pumps from directing water into sewer lines. Why does this matter? Often, it is much more difficult to tie into a storm drain than a sewer line.
Why do Sump Pumps fail?
Sump pumps can fail for any number of reasons, including a power outage, lack of maintenance, mechanical failure, or improper installation. In some cases, a property owner may install a pump that is too small to adequately pump out the volume of water that enters the basin. While proper maintenance is key to keeping your sump pump in good working order, an extreme weather event can cause the pump to work overtime and either burn the unit out or overwhelm it with excess water.
Sump Pump Maintenance
Test your sump pump regularly to make sure it will operate when the next big downpour occurs. Test it by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on, remove the water from the pit and shut itself off in a matter of seconds. Ensure that the float and the check valve move freely.
To clean your sump pit, remove any dirt, sand, gravel and other debris to increase the pump’s efficiency and prolong its life. Ensure that the discharge line opening is free of obstructions so that water can be pumped through the line and out of your basement or crawlspace.
Sump Pump Replacement and Repair
Like any equipment with moving parts, sump pumps will wear out over time and will need to be replaced. There is no general rule on how often a sump pump should be replaced since it depends on how often the pump operates.
When is a mold remediation professional necessary for a sump pump issue?
When a sump pump fails, mold growth often occurs as well. If this is the case, a certified mold professional is recommended. The necessity of a mold expert depends largely on the location of the sump pump. If it is located in a finished basement, and carpeting, drywall and contents are saturated, a mold professional is critical. If the sump pump is located in the crawlspace and the excess water simply pooled on the soil, an expert may not be called for.
Do you have a sump pump in your home? Consider adding Water Back-up, Sump Pump Overflow to your homeowners coverage.
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 1, 2016
Whether you’re traveling alone, with a buddy, or with your spouse and a car full of kids, there are few things more “American” than the long-distance road trip. Countless vacation travelers will drive the highways looking for fun and making memories with every mile. You’ll have a more enjoyable vacation if you plan carefully. Here are a few driving tips to help you out along the way.
1. Maintain your car: Make sure your vehicle is up to date on its maintenance schedule, and be sure to check the battery and tires.
2. Plan your trip and know where you’re going: Call ahead for proper and safe directions to get you to your destination safely and have maps of the area on hand to help you navigate once you are off the main road. You’re more likely to make good decisions, even in dangerous situations, if you’re clearheaded and know where you’re going.
3. Stay Alert: Seems obvious, but driver inattention is surely the cause of a lot of accidents. If you stay focused behind the wheel and plan carefully, you will have a wonderful summer road trip.
4. Take precaution with cell phones: Cell phones can be a lifesaver when you need immediate access to emergency services after an accident. Keep your phone within easy reach and get to know its features. However, use it prudently. Reports suggest that driving while talking on the phone increases accident rates.
5. Wear your seat belt: Whether or not it’s required by law in the state through which you’re driving, always wear your seat belt as a safety precaution.
6. Protect your car against theft: Help deter criminals from taking your car with steering wheel locks, switches that disable fuel or ignition systems, and electronic tracking devices. Always lock your car, don't leave valuables in plain sight, and always park in a well-lit parking lot.
7. Be proactive if you are in an accident: Taking immediate steps if you’ve been in an accident can protect your family and your car from further damage. Stop immediately and make sure your car is not blocking traffic. Turn off your car to keep it from overheating or catching fire. Warn oncoming cars using road flares or orange triangle reflectors. If you are unable to move out of traffic, or if there are any injuries call 911 immediately. After you have protected yourself and your family, call Rutt Insurance or your insurance company's claims hotline. Secure names, phone numbers, driver's license numbers, and addresses of other drivers, passengers, and witnesses. Take photos, notes, or sketches of the accident scene including make, model, and license numbers of all vehicles involved.
8. Make sure your auto insurance is up to date. Before you even leave the driveway, you want to be sure you’re protected when you’re on the road and far from home. Make sure you have a current, up-to-date insurance ID Card. If you are unable to find yours give us a call at 717-653-1816 or submit an Insurance ID Card request online.
SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2016
Summer will soon be in full swing, and here are a few quick fixes that don’t take much time, but can have a big impact on your home the rest of the summer and throughout the year.
Check your gutters. When summer storms hit, your gutters need to be able to take the pressure. If anything appears loose or bent, have a professional repair it.
Test for pipe breaks in outside faucets. Open the tap and put your finger over it. If you can stop the water, it is likely that there is a leak or break somewhere in the line. Even if you’ve already used your outside faucet, test it – it might be leaking and you might never know it!
Clean, repair, and install screens. Check that everything is in good repair, and patch or replace as needed.
Consider options to lower your energy bill. When the temperature goes up, so does your energy bill. Check out options like reflective film and specialized curtains and blinds to help keep the outside heat out of your home, cutting down your costs.
Clean and service your AC and heating. Have a technician come out for a quick clean and service to be sure everything is ready to go for summer use.
Dispose of any hazardous materials in your garage or workroom. If you were doing projects over the winter, make sure you don’t have anything dangerous hanging around! Follow manufacturer instructions on all chemicals.
Do maintenance on your refrigerators and freezers. Your fridge and freezer need a little bit of TLC, and not just so that they can keep giving you cold drinks all summer! Left unchecked, fridges and freezers can be a common source of leaks.
Take a quick trip around the inside and the outside. Look for anything out of the ordinary – new cracks, wood that seems a little too soft. Be as observant as you can!
Test carbon monoxide and smoke detectors. Make sure everything is working, and change the batteries if needed.
Check your roof. Do a walk-around inspection and look for any loose shingles or obvious, visible damage on the roof. A missing shingle now could lead to a leak later!
All of these tips are quick and easy, but they can save you a lot of headache and hassle in the future.
--Content used in this post was originally published by Mammoth Restoration & Construction and is used with their permission.
Posted 3:00 AM
SUNDAY, MAY 1, 2016
Nicer weather is coming, and that means grilling season! We can’t help you become a grill master overnight, but these tips can definitely help you make sure that your grill is running safely and is ready to be a great tool for family fun rather than a potential fire hazard.
- Watch the grill whenever it’s on.
- Never use the grill indoors, near any wooden beams, or under the eaves.
- Make sure the grill is well away from your home, and siding.
- Keep the grill area free from combustible materials like branches and plants.
- Keep kids and pets well away from the grill when it’s hot.
- Make sure to keep the grill clean to avoid grease flare-ups.
- If you use a starter fluid, use one designed for charcoal, and never add it directly to the fire.
- Make sure you store charcoal lighter fluid appropriately. Keep it away from children.
- Let the coals cool down completely before you dispose of them.
- Only dispose of coals in a metal container. Coals directly in the trash are a major risk.
- Tighten all gas lines and hose connections before you fire up the grill for the first time.
- Check for leaks in the lines by applying a soap-and-water solution all over the lines, and then turning on the propane. Look for bubbles – they’re a sure sign of a leak.
- If you do see bubbles indicating a leak, have the grill serviced by a professional.
- If you ever experience an uncontrolled gas leak, call the fire department immediately.
These safety tips will go a long way to ensuring that your grill stays safe and functional all summer, allowing you to enjoy your cookouts with confidence.
--Content used in this post was originally published by Mammoth Restoration & Construction and is used with their permission.
FRIDAY, APRIL 15, 2016
As winter has reluctantly said its final goodbye, and school bells will soon ring marking the last day of school, many Pennsylvania families are turning their thoughts to family vacations. Here are some frequent questions we get each year from families looking to rent a car on vacation.
Q: I'm going on vacation and plan to rent a car. I've been told my personal auto policy will cover the rental vehicle. Is this true?
A: The majority of auto insurance companies will extend coverage from your personal auto policy to a rental vehicle. With most policies, coverage pays for actual repairs to the rental car, but you remain responsible for your policy deductible. In addition, the rental agreement often makes you responsible for "additional" items, and that’s where many issues can arise.
NOTE: If your personal auto policy does not include physical damage coverage, the rental car will not be covered if it's damaged. In addition, if you rent a car outside of the United States, coverage may not be extended.
Q: I've also heard that if I use my credit card to pay for the rental vehicle, the rental vehicle will be covered. Is this true?
A: Many, but not all, credit card companies offer rental insurance, and will pay for damage to a rental car if you pay for the rental vehicle with that card. However, the coverage will be secondary to your personal auto policy. In other words, your credit card company may pick up certain things that your personal auto policy does not cover, such as your deductible. It is best to check with your specific credit card company to see what coverage may be provided.
Q: If my personal auto policy covers my rental car, and if my credit card covers my deductible, doesn't this mean I'm fully covered?
A: While your personal auto policy and use of a credit card may provide adequate coverage, they frequently fall short.
The rental car company may come after you to pay certain fees such as towing, loss of use (the period the rental car is out of service for repairs), diminished value (wrecked and repaired cars are viewed as less valuable than undamaged, factory originals) and administrative fees. All of these fees may be tacked on by the rental car company in the event of an accident, and all of which you can be held liable for. By signing the rental agreement, the renter is always responsible for any loss or damage to a rental vehicle, regardless of who is at fault.
Q: Would it be wise to purchase the "extra insurance" offered by the rental car company?
A: A loss damage waiver (LDW), sometimes called a collision damage waiver, purchased from a rental car company essentially takes the place of your own collision and comprehensive insurance, letting you and your insurance company off the hook if you wreck the rental car, or if it's stolen or vandalized. In exchange for purchasing the LDW, the rental company agrees to "waive" claims against you for damages in the event of an accident. But, your LDW coverage could become void if the accident was caused because you were speeding, driving under the influence, or the accident was the result of a reckless act or error on your part.
Before renting, familiarize yourself with your insurance options by:
* Contacting a Rutt Insurance agent and finding out if you have enough coverage under your existing policy; and
* Contacting your credit card company to find out if it offers rental car coverage, and what the restrictions and limitations may be.
If the two coverage methods mentioned above seem inadequate for your needs, you may wish to consider the purchase of a LDW.
Q: Are there any other options?
A. Because of the prohibitive cost of purchasing Loss Damage Waivers from rental car companies, many people choose to forego the purchase and take the risk of being hit with fees. Realizing the need for a more affordable solution some companies specializing in travel insurance have begun offering Rental Car Insurance. Companies such as Allianz Global Assistance, are now offering a more affordable alternative to the Loss Damage Waivers offered by many rental car companies.
Q: What should I do?
A: Making such a personal decision about your options is yours - and yours alone under the law. As your independent insurance agent, we will do our best to help explain your options. Our agency's job is to help provide you with information on these choices so you can make the best informed decision for you and your family.