Neighbors Sump Pump Draining Into Your Yard? (Do This!)
A sump pump relocates water from a basement away from the home. According to Oxford’s Dictionary, a sump is a pit in which liquid collects on the floor of a basement. This pit, more commonly referred to as a basin, is where the sump pump is stored.
There are valves connected to the pump, which sense any increase in pressure or water levels. These mechanisms send a signal to the pump when water levels are too high. They cause the pump to instantly drain the basement’s overflow.
The water is then sent through a discharge line, called effluent. After traveling through the linke, it is carried to a designated area away from the house.
Is your neighbor’s sump pump draining into your yard? If you’ve identified the runoff source as someone’s failing or unlawfully draining the pump, try to talk to your neighbors civilly about fixing the issue. If they are uncooperative about redirecting the sump pump drainage, escalate your claim to your city’s ordinance officer for further review.
Why Drainage Areas Matter
No one buys a home to make costly repairs due to water damage. Water damage is a fear many homeowners face and desperately try to avoid. When water begins to creep across the property line, it can feel like the pressure is on.
Harsh weather and damaged plumbing are the most common causes of water damage. Sometimes, a neighbor’s negligence can cause just as much turmoil. When the runoff isn’t coming from your yard you may not know how to stop the flow of water. Fortunately, you can find tips on how to stop runoff from a neighbor’s yard here.
How to Protect Your Yard From Overspill
You can do a few things to protect your home when you notice drainage from a neighbor’s sump pump. Of course, it is best to confront the problem directly. However, you may still need to deal with the water if it begins flooding your property.
You can take steps to prevent overspill such as:
- Build a dry well
- Plant a berm (high, grassy barrier)
- Install a defensive drainage system
These only work if you catch the problem before it causes extensive damage.
Where Should a Sump Pump Drain?
What would happen if everyone’s sump pumps drained into the local wastewater system? Every time it rains, think about what would happen. The treatment plants would be overflowing with wastewater, and raw sewage would run into rivers and streams.
Most cities write regulations into their codes and ordinances about where and how a sump pump system can drain. Dry wells, ponds, and even storm drains are designated runoff areas for proper drainage.
The most important thing is making sure the water doesn’t flow back toward your home. Your neighbor may need to add extension hoses or a stronger pump to ensure the water is draining properly, and your home is out of harm’s way.
Can a Sump Pump Fail?
Like everything in life, sump pumps can fail due to wear and tear, subpar installation practices, faulty parts or a recalled machine, and general errors over the pump’s lifespan.
Sump pumps have a typical lifespan of about 7-10 years, as is common with many household machines. The manufacturers are occasionally to blame for hardware malfunctions, thus rendering the pump damaged before ever being used. The system that controls the pump may also be subject to hardware damage and cause buttons to become stuck and disrupt the machine’s cycle.
If your neighbor installed the pump themselves’ they may not be familiar with the process and mishandled a step or two. The money they save with a DIY installation may cost you thousands in repairs down the road.
Is Your Neighbor’s Sump Pump Becoming Your Problem?
If your neighbor’s sump pump is draining into your yard, identify the runoff’s source. To prevent the spread of overspill, determine if it is, in fact, your neighbor’s pump drainage. If their pump is causing issues in your yard, a civil conversation about it is always the best first step.
Some people either can’t or won’t redirect the water flow. Your city’s ordinance officer will come out and assess whether or not the pump is draining correctly. If it isn’t, they will most likely present your neighbors with a citation for violating a building ordinance.
These are our recommendations for handling a situation of this kind. However, you should always use your discretion when dealing with those who live in proximity. You may not want to take such drastic measures.
However, this is an issue that can cause detrimental water damage to your home. In some cases, those without specific flood insurance should at the very minimum document water levels and the proximity to your home and photograph any damage incurred.
Report a Code Violation to a City Officer
Before working with any drainage or sewage lines, or interfering with the pump, contact a local code officer.
If you want to speak with someone about the appropriate receptacles for the wastewater, your local plumbing board or municipal water department will be whom to contact. They govern where and how water is collected and drained and can answer most of your questions over the phone.
Is Your Neighbor Responsible for Runoff Water Damage?
If your neighbors receive any fault or citation regarding the sump pump draining issues, legally, your neighbor is responsible for any water damage you experienced. You may be entitled to some or all of the following:
- compensation for the cost of repairs and replacements
- compensation for expenses such as having to stay at a motel
- reimbursement for medical expenses
- compensation for mental distress, if you have suffered an underlying physical injury
- punitive damages, if a neighbor acted maliciously.
What can I do if my neighbor's illegal sump pump draining damages my home?
In the case of a sump pump causing damage due to drainage issues, contact the city's code officer immediately. You will want a formal complaint on record if there is any damage from the water flow. If your neighbor is unresponsive and has been officially cited, in this case, you should consider contacting an attorney to handle any claim on your property.
Does my homeowner's insurance cover damage incurred by drainage overflow from a neighbor's sump pump?
Water damage claims aren't always cut-and-dry when insurance comes into play and can often be tricky to navigate. Typically, your homeowner's insurance considers water damage to originate from an inside source, such as a pipe or other plumbing.
Companies typically have a different insurance plan for handling outside rising water, and you need flood insurance. Luckily, with proper documentation, you can avoid this extra coverage. If your neighbor is at least partially at fault, their insurance company may end up paying you directly.
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