Sump Pumps

Sump pumps are used to drain accumulated water in a sump basin especially in wet basements. If you have never heard of it, count yourself lucky as it means you haven’t experienced a basement flooding problem. The American Society of Home inspectors has noted that over 60 percent of homeowners suffer from wetness below the ground. Even a little water is bound to amount to thousands of dollars of water damage.

Even if your house has a water problem, there may be other alternatives to correct the situation before your resort to a sump pump. A network of drainage tubes protect your basement or crawl spaces from water damage around the foundation area. The water is directed to a sump which then pushes the water through a discharge pipe to the outside and away from the house.

Types of Sump PumpsSump Pumps

The sump pumps are available as either pedestal or submersible types. Pedestals are more affordable than submersible as they aren’t cooled by the water in the sump. They are, however, prone to overheating under extreme use.

Submersible pumps, on the other hand, are surrounded by cooling water and rest at the sump’s bottom.

Sump Pump Buying Guide

  • Horsepower

The critical thing to know is how many gallons of water per hour it can pump and up to what height. For sump pumps that run consistently throughout the year, a more powerful pump is required.

  • Housing

Housing is essential for the pumps and is usually available in cast metal, stainless steel, or plastic housing.

  • Switch

The switches come in three types namely; vertical float, tethered float, and electronic float. After the water reaches a certain level, they all turn on the pump. They differ in pricing although they all offer protection to the pumps.

Maintenance Tips

Sump pumps are mechanical devices bound to fail from time to time. If this happens, you could be looking at a flooded basement and subsequently, costly repairs. Regular maintenance helps to nip problems in the bud before things get worse. Here are a few tips to guide you;

  • Annual examinations of the sump pumps and basins
  • Remove gravel, dirt, and sand from the sump pump
  • Ensure discharge line openings are free from any obstructions
  • Ensure float pumps are clear of any obstructions


Some dampness during summer is not a cause for alarm because a dehumidifier can solve that. However, if you are searching for a house be keen when doing a tour of the basement. Evidence of a significant water problem could be high water marks on the wall or an active sump pump. A wet basement brings with it a myriad of issues such as mold, rust, rot, etc. Installing sump pumps can be quite a hassle, therefore, if you like the house or you have already moved in, consider other alternatives first.

If you are replacing a sump pump that has worked well over the years, buy a similar sump pump of the same horsepower as well. The sumps mentioned above pumps operate on electric current. Battery backups are vital for providing some level of protection until the power is restored.

Click here for more information and to possibly buy a pump.

Heat Pumps for the Home

A heat pump is a mechanical system that works to both heat and cool a controlled place. It forms part of a central heating and cooling system. Despite their name, they do a lot more than just heating. They also provide humidity control and air conditioning. They can be great additions to already existing features or can be used as stand-alone appliances. They use less energy and are therefore a very cost-efficient method.

How Does a Heat Pump Work?Heat Pump

This equipment works by transferring heat through a refrigerant from one place to another. During the summer, heat is captured from inside the home and transferred to the outside air through a condensing unit. The reverse happens during the winter where heat is captured from the outdoor air, compressed and then released inside the home.

Types of Heat Pumps

  1. Air-to-air heat pump

This is the most common type of heat pump and is also known as an air-source heat pump (ASHP). They work best in moderate climates but due to technological advancements, they have become a viable option for colder climates too. They are mostly mounted on the interior of walls. They consist of two parts; an outdoor unit which is the heat pump and an indoor unit which is the air handler.

  1. Mini-split systems

Mini-splits like the name suggests has some part of the system outside and another part inside making them very suitable for retrofit installations. This is a ductless version of ASHP specially designed for single room additions or home without ducts. A 3-inch hole has to be drilled between the outside and the inside for the wiring and tubing. These help in refrigeration and condensation.

  1. Geothermal

They often go by the name ground or water source. Here, heat is moved through pipes buried outdoors either horizontally or vertically. A water solution runs through the pipes which is warmed by the ground temperatures or water sources around your home and circulated in and out of your home. They also provide humidity control. Although installation is costly, they are a good option as they are quiet, long-lasting and extremely effective in harsh climates. They have low operating costs too due to the minimal maintenance required.

Common Features of Heat Pumps

  • Noise can be a nuisance with fans and compressors in ASHP. Select one with a sound rating of 7.6 bels or lower and position it on an absorbing base.
  • Demand-defrost control is a feature that enables your heat pump to get rid of frost accumulation for complete effectiveness and cost efficiency of your pump.
  • Zoned heating and cooling
  • Two-speed compressors allow the heat pump to save on a considerable amount of energy and reduce compressor wear. They work by operating as close to the heating and cooling capacity at any time.
  • Dual-speed motors or variable speed motors keep the air moving at a good speed. This minimizes the noise and saves on electrical energy.
  • Scroll compressors as compared to piston compressors as they provide warmer air while in the heating mode and have a longer lifespan.
  • Desuperheaters are popular in geothermal heating and cooling systems. They use heat from recovered waste to heat water.

Factors to Consider Before You Buy

  • Climate

Heat pumps work efficiently in moderate climates without wide temperature changes. You will need an auxiliary heating system if you live in colder climates below 10 degrees F.

  • Size

A heating and cooling professional is better suited to recommend a suitable heat pump depending on different considerations of your home. The heat pumps should neither be too big or too small.

  • Energy efficiency

Seasonal Efficiency Energy Ratio (SEER) is used to measure the cooling efficiency of ductless-split and air source systems. The minimum standard is 13-14 SEER depending on your location. The heating system is measured by a Heating Seasonal Performance Factor (HSPF) and the minimum HSPF rating is 7.7. A higher SEER is important in warm climates but a higher HPSF is suitable for cold climates.

A geothermal cooling system is rated by Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER) while its heating system is rated by a Coefficient of Performance (COP). The EER minimums are 2.1 while the COP is 3.1 to 4.1

  • Tax credits

Some states and utility companies offer a certain percentage of federal tax credit and rebates. More information on this can be found on the Department of Energy and Internal Revenue Service websites.

Although they cost slightly more than air conditioners, they are absolutely worth it. No combustion takes place which eliminates the possibility of pollutants. Also, they have proven to be more effective than electric resistance heating.


Tips to Extend the Life of your Home Appliances

Many homeowners never realize that their everyday actions affect the performance of their major home appliances. You could be harming your major appliances without really knowing until when you have to make an emergency repair call. As you abuse or neglect your major home appliances, you’re simply bringing an earlier-than-expected end of their service life. Don’t forget that replacing appliances like a freezer, an oven, a dryer or a refrigerator will require a lot of money which means your budget will be affected. To ensure that your major appliances serve you well and have an extended lifespan, follow these tips.

Scrub your Oven

Allowing food debris to stay and stick in your oven burners will certainly affect the performance of your oven over time. It’s recommended to regularly clean the inside of your even. If there’s food debris that might have stuck inside, use grease to remove it. According to experts, spraying cleaning fluid directly on your oven control panels can result in short-circuiting of your appliance. You should instead consider applying a little of the spraying fluid onto a rag before cleaning that surface.

Remember not to use aluminum foil under the baking element of your oven.

Defrost your Freezer

Despite the fact that modern freezers being used in homes today are frost-free, some homeowners still use manual defrost freezers. If you’re part of this group, it’s important that you defrost your freezer at least once a year. Be sure to do this before the frost develops to about a half an inch in thickness within the freezer.

Always make sure your Freezer and Fridge are Clean

Failure to clean your refrigerator and freezer in the condenser area will affect the life of your appliance. It’s important that you ensure that the condenser coils at the bottom unit of your fridge remain clean always. It’s recommended to clean using a condenser coil brush before vacuuming the area. Be sure to also clean up leftovers in your refrigerator on a regular basis. Before you start cleaning your freezer, make sure it is unplugged, and all the food is removed first. Consider using baking-soda solution when cleaning and water when rinsing your freezer. Ensure the appliance is dry before plugging it back in.

Don’t Overload Cloths in your Washing Machine

A major cause of premature wear out in washing machines is overloading. Another thing that can affect the performance of your washing machine is not having the proper setting of water level for the amount of clothes you’re washing. While you could be in a hurry and it might seem so easy to cram as many clothes into your appliance as possible, understand that this will force your washing machine to work harder than it should thereby stressing its parts.

Improve your Dryer’s Circulation

Dryers that seem to take more time to dry a standard sized load often require vent cleaning to solve the problem. It’s recommended to regularly clean the lint screen to prevent the vent from becoming clogged. Failure to clean the dryer vent will cause it to work harder which will not only affect its performance but also present a serious fire hazard.