In a perfect world, a sump pump is a backstop that prevents minor to moderate flooding from becoming a serious problem. Usually installed in a sump in the basement or lowest part of a home or commercial building, the sump pump has a special float activation switch. When water raises it up, the internal pump activates with vigor to pump the water out and away from the building. If actions are not taken quickly, you open yourself to a much larger mold remediation issue that can be quite costly, and inconvenient. Taking preventative measures is paramount during this time.

The Potential For Sump Pump Failure

It’s important to understand that sump pumps are only effective to a point. Several things can cause a sump pump to fail. Any one of which can leave you with a lot of hazardous water on your hands.

Severe Flooding

With some major water incidents, such as severe local flooding caused by severe weather, a municipal sewer backup, or the rupture of a major water main, the volume of water can be more than the sump pump can realistically handle. Complete submersion for a prolonged period of time can cause the sump pump to fail. Especially if the water being pumped out can’t drain away from the property quickly.

Over Use

Most sump pumps have electric motors. When they run too long or they have used too much the excess heat, as well as severe wear and tear, can cause the sump pump’s components to seize up or fail.

Disuse & Poor Maintenance

A sump pump is also the sort of thing that is easy to ignore. It spends most of its life just sitting there in a lesser-used part of the basement. When the time does come, internal corrosion, disuse, and poor maintenance can cause the sump pump to fail outright.

Power Failure

A lot of sump pumps use an electric motor. If severe weather or a failure of the municipal power grid causes a prolonged power outage the sump pump won’t be able to work and any water leaking down into the lower recesses of the building can start to accumulate quickly.

How To Handle Water Damage Due to a Failed Sump Pump

If you are lucky, and the amount of water is reasonably small enough that you can still move through the home or building, you can start saving valuables that are threatened by the water. Where possible you might be able to remove furniture, throw rugs, and soft upholstered items from the basement or the ground floor. Even if you can just get them up and out of the water as it rises, it will go a long way toward minimizing the damage as well as mitigate any cleanup and replacement costs.

If your sump pump failed due to corrosion or a lack of routine maintenance, you might be able to find a replacement at the local hardware store. Though this isn’t the sort of thing you can wait on. The longer the water is allowed to saturate the property, the higher the risk of a mold problem becomes.

Not to mention that if local flooding from severe weather was the cause of the water, then it also means a lot of other people will be rushing to the hardware store to replace their failed sump pump. Delaying can leave you staring at empty shelves.

Removing Water From The Basement Or Ground Floor After Floods

If there was just a small amount of water, then you might be able to clean it up with a good old-fashioned mop and some old towels. Though this is rarely the case with most water intrusion events. Most likely you will need to employ some type of equipment to get the water out of your basement or ground floor of the building.

A Wet & Dry Shop-Vac

Wet & dry shop vacs are great for sucking up small pools and shallow amounts of water. Just make sure you set up the internal chamber for water to protect the electric motor from water damage. Once you’ve filled the shop vac you can take it out and away from the building to let it drain away without pouring back in.

A Replacement Sump Pump

If your sump pump failed due to an internal mechanical fault a new sump pump will likely pull the water out of the lowest recesses of the basement. Just bear in mind that it will only pump out water that drains down into the sump well. Any wet carpets or lingering pools of water will still need to be dealt with via mops or shop vac.

Professional Water Pumps

Sometimes the flooding is so severe that the kind of sump pumps sold at the retail level simply cannot handle it. To get the full volume out, you will need to contact a professional who has access to truly commercial-grade water pumps and drying equipment.

How To Prevent Sump Pump Failure

There are a few things you might want to consider to prevent a sump pump failure in the future. The reason your sump pump failed will be a major factor in the prevention strategy.

Routine Maintenance

It’s easy to forget about your sump pump until the moment when you truly need it. Make it a point to check your sump pump periodically for signs of corrosion or excess wear and tear. Giving it a test run at the start of each summer by submerging it in a five-gallon bucket of water will buy you a considerable amount of peace of mind.

Back-Up Generator

A lot of sump pump failures during flooding events caused by severe weather are related to power outages. Keeping a small backup generator on-site ensures that you can power your sump pump in an emergency. It might also be handy for powering other minor pieces of electric equipment on the property until the utility company can restore full service.

Proactive Repairs

Check your home or commercial property for roof leaks and gutter problems as well as any cracks in the foundation. This will go a long way toward reducing the volume of water that invades the basement during a severe storm. While it might not be able to totally prevent a flooding problem, making sure that your property’s water management system is in good order might help reduce the severity of an event.

Drying & Cleaning After A Sump Pump Failure

Any water event increases the risk of a mold problem developing. This might be days, weeks, or even months after the flooding. Drying all affected areas and compromised materials as soon as possible is critical for preventing mold problems.

After the water has been removed, you will still need to take proactive steps toward drying all previously inundated materials.


There are several forms of desiccant. Some are chemical bags that you hang in a moist, humid environment. While they help manage humidity, they aren’t thoroughly effective at preventing mold. Crystalized desiccants like professional painters use will help reduce the ambient humidity better, but it is still more of an augment strategy for other trying strategies.


Powerful fans help dry out floors and can be left running overnight. Though they only help with surface drying. If your property was flooded for a significant amount of time, consumer-grade fans might also blow mold particles into other parts of the building that weren’t affected by water.


A strategically placed dehumidifier captures ambient moisture in the air, which will help dry out surface wetness and speed the drying or saturated materials. Though it cannot draw out moisture trapped deep in upholstery and other absorbent materials.

Mold Prevention With Professional Drying Equipment

Some rental companies do offer commercial-grade drying equipment, though they don’t tend to have a lot of it, and it gets rented out quickly in areas where flooding was caused by severe weather.

If you have more than 2 to 4 inches of water in the basement of your home or business, you should strongly consider calling in professionals. Commercial grade water pumps and professional-strength drying equipment can quickly eliminate the presence of moisture to reduce the risk of mold problems developing in the affected areas. Our industrial grade dryers are typically left on premisses for a few days to maximize drying throughout the affected area. Professionals can then help you understand the signs of mold, as well as the things you can do to implement a mold prevention strategy going forward.