Does this basement flood?  This is probably the most asked question by clients who are getting a home inspection.  I have a client who has had multiple home inspections that all had to many issues in his eyes to purchase the home.  After his 2ND home inspection I explained that he should call me will all the info on the property before he made another offer and went through the inspection process and spent money he might not have to.  He found a home that he wanted to move forward on.  The home inspection was in Riverwoods, Illinois.  He pulled the insurance records and found that there were 2 claims in the last 3 years with flood damage.  His question was will the Riverwoods homes basement flood again?

Flooding in basement comes from 2 places and both can be controlled.

  • Sewer back up is probably the biggest reason for water damage in homes.  If you have an “in ground sewer” then your chances are high for getting sewer back up.  This is what most homes have.  An in ground sewer means the sewer lies underneath the floor in the basement and the waste is sent into the sewer main via gravity.
  • Water around the homes foundation is called ground water and can enter the home via the ground or window wells.  Generally the ground water enters a sump pump pit and is pumped away from the home via a sump pump.  Sometimes like everything the sump pump will fail and will need to be replaced.  We advise all of our clients to have a back up sump pump installed for these times.  The Riverwoods home inspection did have a sump pump pit but no back up pump.

The Riverwoods home Inspection did flood because the sewer was an in ground sewer with no flood control system.  What is a flood control system?  There are two type of sewer systems your home may have.  If you have an in ground sewer you may need a flood control system.

  • Overhead sewers are the most ideal situation to have for a finished basement.  If your home was not built this way there is no way to convert the sewer system to an overhead type sewer system.  If you have an overhead sewer system that means you will most likely have an ejector pit in your basement.  An ejector pit takes water from floor drains, laundries, basement bathrooms, basement kitchens and pumps the water waste to the overhead sewer.  The probability of the Riverwoods home inspection flooding with this system is nil.  As a licensed plumber I appreciate this system and always explain how lucky my clients are to have this drainage system in their home.
  • In ground sewers are the culprits for flooding in basements.  The Riverwoods home inspection proved this.  Just because the home has an in ground sewer does not mean you should not buy it.  The remedy for keeping sewer waste water from entering your home is having a flood control system installed on your sewer main.  A flood control system has a check valve that allows water to leave the home and not back into the home.  Some systems have reservoirs on the exterior of the home to catch all the water and store it until the waste water subsides.   The cost for a flood control system is from $5000.00 – $10000.00 and is recommended to all of our clients with finished basements.

Does this basement flood? Without a flood control system you will still be asking this question.

flood control system was the remedy for the Riverwoods home inspection.  This is the only way the home will have a dry basement for sure.  The system can be installed in a day and you will be very happy when big storms roll through your town.

If you have any questions about flood control systems in your home please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thanks for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke

If you either own a home or are buying a home with a finished basement then you need to read this article.  When performing a home inspection in Downers Grove I found that not only did the sump pump not work but there was no battery back up sump pump to protect the basement from possible flooding.  Sump pump buying and installation is serious business when trying to protect your most expensive investment.  If you are in the market for a sump pump and a battery back up sump pump system then you want to buy the best you can.  Going cheap may cost you alot more money in the future on basement repairs.  Generally sump pumps cost about $200.00 to buy and only $100.00 to have a plumber to install it.  Most of my readers know that I’m a licensed plumber #J194988 and here are the things I look for when buying a sump pump and a battery back up pump system.

  • Cast Iron bodies on a sump pump is a must.  Plastic is for toys!  There are many large manufacturers that sell these plastic pumps that are merely disposable units.  Zoeller pumpsare the only pumps I use. Period!  Zoeller pumps are known in the plumbing industry to be the best and best value for the money.  Zoeller sump pumps are known to last up to 10years. This is a great example of a proper installed sump pump with a battery back up system.


  • Replaceable sump pump switches should be a item that your sump pump should have.  These switches are known to fail with years of service.  Being able to remove the existing switch and replacing it for a new switch allows you to repair the pump instead of replacing it.
  • Steel impellers are what allows the pump to pull water and solids through the pump body and out the discharge pipe.  Plastic impellers are known to snap off and break.
  • Alarms on battery back up pumps are a must to allow you to know you have a issues with your sump pumps.  Sump pumps that do not have alarms will be useless if you don’t know you have an issue.

My clients from the Downers Grove home inspection were going to be in the market for a sump pump and battery back up system.  I suggested that they purchase a Zoeller sump pump and battery back up pump package.  This whole system can be bought for under $800.00.  This may sound expensive to you but a basement that has been flooded can cost $10,000.00 to repair.  Items that will need to be cleaned or replaced are below.

  • Carpet may be dried but plan on replacing because it is now a breeding ground for mold and mildew.  Got allergies?
  • Drywall will need to be cut up to the area that was not affected and replaced.
  • Insulation in the walls will all have to be replaced.
  • Furniture and electronics will all have to be disposed of if they have been contaminated.
  • Labor to perform all of these replacements will be extremely costly.
  • $10,000.00 – $25,000.00

Sump pump battery back up system sounds cheap now?  My client from the Downers Grove home inspection was sold on my idea of a Zoeller sump pump battery back system.  Even if you are not good with numbers you can easily see that not having a battery back up for your sump pump is insane.

Hopefully this article helped you to make an educated decision like my client from the Downers Grove home inspection.  If you are still unsure about why this system should be installed in your home then please contact me at ~ The Thermal Home Inspector or 312-961-4228.

Thank you for stopping by and stay safe.

Jim Kolke


Flooding in homes is a serious issue not to be taken lightly.  Water damage in basements can occur in many ways.  Nature is generally the cause of most of the major flooding  issues due to water back up from sewer systems. This is not the case for the home inspection in Morton Grove, Illinois. This might have been the reason years back, but the definite cause this time was due to a mechanical failure.

The sump pump was definitely the culprit at the home inspection in Morton Grove that caused some minor damage that was revealed on the baseboards of the basement floor.  The sump pump basically failed at a time when you definitely didn’t want it to.  A rain storm!  There wasn’t a back up battery system with a back up pump.

The installation of battery back up pumps with alarms is an item we always try to pass on to our clients.  The general cost for a good system is about $400.00 -  $600.00  installed by a professional plumber.  The home inspection in Morton Grove revealed the damage to the baseboards and the drywall.  It was only about 3″ of water that rose in the basement but sometimes  that’s all you need to have issues with mold.

When you decide you need a battery back up sump system make sure you take the proper measurements of the depth of the pit and the width of the pit.  My advise when installing a new back up sump pit system is to install a new sump pump also.  Then you know when they both were installed. The cost of a good cast iron body sump pump installed by a professional plumber shouldn’t cost you more than $400.00.  The owners of the home inspection in Morton Grove wish they had this information before the flooding in their basement occurred.

If you own a home or are looking to buy a home and have questions about what to look for in a back up sump pump system contact us at~ Jim Kolke