Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
May 14, 2015 - Protecting your family and property from water and wind damage due to flooding, tornadoes and severe storms is the focus during the second week of Building Safety Month. The Bureau of Construction Codes in the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs offers important and practical safety information.
Sump pump failure causing basements to flood during times of heavy rainfall, the most common catastrophe in many Michigan homes. Just a few inches of water from flooding can cause tens of thousands of dollars in damage to your home and contents.
First, know the different types of sump pumps and purchase a pump that is best for protecting your home. Primary sump pumps, standard in most homes, pump up to several thousand gallons an hour of seepage water out of basements to prevent flooding. The two types of primary sump pumps are submersible pumps (put under water in the sump pump basin or pit); and pedestal pumps that are not submerged but rather sit above the sump pit.
Battery backup pumps and generators provide added insurance in case of a power outage; sump pumps will be useless as they are electric-powered. If the power goes out, the back-up system or generator will take over to rid the sump basin of water and keep your basement dry. Water-powered backup sump pump systems that do not rely on electrical power to operate are also available.
Do regular maintenance to help avoid future sump pump problems or failure. The average lifespan of a sump pump is about 10 years and they eventually wear out. Here are a few maintenance tips:
Also consider raising electrical system components, including fuse and circuit breaker boxes, meters, switches and outlets to help prevent potential damage from flood water or fires caused by short circuits in flooded systems. If having your electrical system raised, hire a licensed contractor to make modifications to ensure the work is done according to code. The contractor should check with the local power company about the maximum height allowable to raise the electric meter.
For homes equipped with an old-style fuse box or low-amperage service, homeowners may want to consider upgrading to a modern circuit breaker system and higher-amperage service, especially if there are large appliances or other electrical equipment that draws a lot of power.
The Michigan Residential Code has minimal reference to building homes to withstand high winds because, unlike some parts of the country, Michigan is not considered to be in a high wind area. However, there is regular maintenance that homeowners can do to help reduce the amount of wind damage to their home in the event of a severe storm or tornado.
Regularly check the weather resistance features of your home. Preventive maintenance can minimize wind damage. Here are some things to look for:
LARA's Bureau of Construction Codes works to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public's health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards.
For more information, go to the Bureau of Construction Codes website at www.michigan.gov/bcc.