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How to Avoid Pump Failure and Sewerage Overflow in Heavy Rains

Technicians inspecting a sewage pit

Regular maintenance to ensure your pump is working at optimum is the key to avoiding pump failure and sewerage overflow during heavy rains.

In Auckland, we no longer get steady rainfall throughout winter, but experience dry spells followed by storms which may mean an intense deluge over a short period of time.

Darlene Henshaw, Director at PASLR, says these downpours put huge pressure on pumps, and if they aren’t in fit condition and running at full capacity, while they may happily grind along under normal weather conditions, they are often unable to cope with the increased demand and will fail.

“We find when these storms hit everyone’s pumps fail at once, our phone rings off the hook and there can be delays in getting out to customers because we are so inundated,” she says.

But the good news is you can easily reduce the chance of a pump failing during severe weather through regular maintenance. Darlene says it is not always easy to spot wear and tear, especially with submersible pumps. “Often what our technicians find is the insulation resistance is worn down and electrical bonds lost,” she says. “Silt build up in drainage chambers also happens over long periods and even if you’re a household of girls with long hair that can have a massive effect on the pump, so checking it regularly is really key.”

The consequences

If having raw sewerage floating in your basement or front lawn isn’t consequence enough, the damage and subsequent costs involved with sewerage or stormwater overflow are worth avoiding.

Depending on the pipe set up and size of your system, if your pump stops working, you may require a drainage company to clear the chamber before a technician can get in and fix it, due to health and safety reasons. During times of heavy rain, these companies are also flat out, and the cost of dumping liquids can be substantial.

When there is damage caused by a pump failing you may be asked to provide a report for insurance claims. Darlene says most standard insurance policies won’t cover you for general wear and tear on a pump, so maintenance really is the key to ensuring you don’t get caught out.

Alarming your system

If you don’t have an alarm system sometimes the only way you know the pump is no longer working is when sewerage pops out the manhole lid (not the ideal indicator).

PASLR can install an alarm at any stage – visual or audible – depending on your specific needs, whether to alert you the chamber is filling up, or to tell you the pump has failed.

Being mindful of the power supply set up and how the loss of power can affect your pump and pump alarm is also important.

If your pump is overdue a maintenance service, get onto it before the next downpour to ensure peace of mind and reduce the risk of an overflow.

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