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

Recently I was hired for a home inspection in Chicago’s Ravenswood neighborhood.  The property that was to be inspected was a beautiful rehabbed basement duplex condo unit.  A basment duplex unit usually is one that incorporates the basement and the first floor of a condo building or apartment building.  Unfortunately these type of units do get a bad rap for having moisture issues, flooding, mold and so on.  Luckily for my clients of the Chicago condo home inspection I specialize in this type of property.  If you decide to purchase a basement duplex unit then I would advise you to hire a home inspector with extensive plumbing knowledge along with extensive building knowledge.  I’m not going to bore you with my credentials but I am a licensed plumber (Chicago lic # 194988).

This article will explain that if certain building systems are not installed that they most certainly can be installed to make your choice of home still attainable.  There are no “bad homes” just corrections to make them “great homes”.

When prospective home buyers consider garden condos they look at the finishes and that’s basically it.  If these items look good  and they like the neighborhood its a buy.  There are basically 4 items we look for when performing a garden condo home inspection.

  1. Flood control system is a part of a plumbing waste system that can be comprised of one of two systems.  The first is the building has overhead sewers and will have an ejector pit that will take waste water from floor drains in utility rooms, laundry rooms and waste water from bathrooms in the basement.  The other is a more complex system.  A backflow preventer is a check valve that will not allow water from the sewer main to come back into the floor drains, toilets, showers and or tubs of a garden condo.  Most home owners or sellers don’t know what type of system they have and that is why you really need a home inspector with extensive plumbing background.  Don’t worry.  If your garden condo does not have either one of these systems they can be added in the future by a contractor.
  2. Radon gas can cause health issues with the respiratory systems of the occupants of the home.  You can ask if the garden condo has been tested by a home inspector to see what the radon levels are.  Acceptable levels are under 3.9pci/l and can only be tested by a licensed radon measurement company when used in a real estate transaction.  The tests generally cost between $175.00 and $225.00 depending on where you are in the country.  If  high levels are found, radon mitigation can be done to correct this issue.
  3. Insulation and general construction can be hard to detect by a home buyer with little or no experience in the construction field.  We use  Fluke thermal imagers to detect if there is insulation in exterior walls and the possibilities of water intrusion.  Unfortunately you won’t be able to know this by just looking at the walls but there might be portions of the garden condo that are not finished and can be evaluated for insulation.
  4. Sump pump systems are a must for garden apartments and garden condos.  I also always suggest adding a battery back up sump pump system if one is not already installed.  The sump pump will take water through drain tiles under the concrete floor of the basement to a pump in a pit that pumps the water to the exterior of the property.  You want to make sure that the grading of the building is pitched away from the building and the drain pipe is at least 6′ away from the foundation walls.

As you can see there are some basic items to look for when choosing a garden condo.  My clients from the Chicago home inspection used me as a check list before choosing their duplex basement condo.  If you are looking at garden condos and have questions when your looking please contact Jim Kolke at ~ http://www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com/about-jim-kolke.html.

Thanks for stopping by.  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~ www.pinnaclepropertyinspection.com Jim Kolke