How would you feel if your smoke alarm sounded at 3am and you awoke to discover that your basement was full of smoke? This happened recently to a Milton family who waited outside on a cold, wintry night for the Milton Fire Department, all because of a faulty sump pump.
Crews found light smoke conditions in the basement upon arrival but no fire. The activation arm of the home’s pedestal-style sump pump had become stuck in the “on” position, causing it to overheat. This is a common malfunction with this type of sump pump and it is no longer recommended by the Milton Fire Department; submersible pumps are a safer alternative. Fortunately, for this Milton family, they had a working smoke alarm, which alerted them to take early action and there were no other combustible materials around the sump pump that would have caught on fire. The family has since installed a safer submersible sump pump.
This is just one of several recent incidents resulting in thousands of dollars in financial losses for home owners/occupants, and in one case, almost causing serious injury and death. There have been increasing numbers of fire calls originating due to a sump pump issue over the past few years.
“The Milton Fire Department wants to remind residents that sump pumps have to deal with high volumes of water during the springtime due to rainy weather and moisture collecting in the ground from melting snow, “ said Acting Fire Chief Dave Pratt. “This is the time of year to confirm that you have a submersible sump pump and that it is set up correctly and operating properly.”
The Milton Fire Department has the following recommendations regarding sump pumps:
- Choose a submersible pump as a safer alternative instead of a stem or column style of pump.
- Keep the area around the pump free of all combustibles.
- Ensure supply pipes to the pump are clear of clogs; the pit should be free of debris and the pump should kick on and off as intended.
- Check sump pumps before it rains, at least once in the fall and once in the spring. Use a garden hose or a bucket of water to fill up the sump and make sure the pump starts, runs properly, drains water properly, and then switches off.
- Keep submersible pumps level and column/stem pumps vertical.
- Ensure the motor is not tilted as that may cause damage from internal overheating.
- If there is any suspicion of malfunction with your sump pump, call for an inspection.
For information on sump pumps and fire prevention, visit http://www.miltonfire.ca/.