The mechanical devices poeple seem to think will last forever, despite abuse and lack of service, include the water heater and the furnace. But those are not the mechanical devices this blog is referring to.
I am speaking of a device that only a few people have but, if they have one, they sure need it. And chances are, it was installed years ago and nobody has taken a peak at it since. Sometimes they might hear it running, but, if it stopped at some point, did they even notice that it went silent?
Enough teasing, you are probably fit to be tied with anticipation for what I am about to say. I am speaking of the sump pump. In our wet region, Pacific Northwest, these devices are common in crawl spaces and sometimes basements. All else being equal, they are not the first choice as a drainage solution. So far, the natural law of gravity is more reliable if it can be used. But, if it cannot be, then a pump might be in order.
The photos below were taken under a condo. Four families are depending on this pump to keep their crawl space healthy. When I visited the site, there was 4" of muddy standing water under there. In fact, I probably should not have even been back in there, but I had a concern that enticed me to go a ways back into this "no-man's land." Home inspection ain't for sissies. It looks like the condo association put this pump in and then forgot about it. How many years has it been like this? I would answer "many." Also, based on the amount of standing water, and the capacity of the bucket used for the pump, I would say it was way undersized anyway. I heard that, in the past month, they let their maintenance man go. Hmmmm. Might not have been a bad move.
Bottom line: If you have some low-profile, but essential, mechanical device like this that is critical to the well-being of your home, make sure it works. If you do not want to get under there to check it out, hire someone who will -- nobody wants to but some of us will. Anyone who depends on a sump pump should have it inspected, for sure before the wet season gets underway next year.
Steven L. Smith
Bellingham WA Home Inspections