Penny wise and hundreds of dollars foolish

Spring is here and even though we’ve had a dry one so far in most parts of the country, it’s the season for thunderstorms and the heavy rains that go with them. Given that, I thought this post from last year was well worth repeating.

Here’s the epitome of “penny wise and dollar foolish” in our industry: Like many of us, a homeowner lives in an area of the country where it rains. Sometimes, it rains a lot. Their home has a basement, and when it rains, they have a sump pump to collect and remove that water from the lowest part of the residence.

When their home was built, the basement was just a poured concrete room that held the mechanicals such as the pressure tank, water heater, and furnace.

But today, it’s a different story. A couple of years ago, the homeowner remodeled the basement, and made it a so-called media room, den, whatever. They spent several thousand dollars on the upgrade, then added a HDTV, carpeting, and maybe even a nice pool table. In addition, in the intervening years, the unfinished part of the basement became easy storage for family heirlooms such as diplomas, Little League trophies, and Christmas decorations.

What didn’t the homeowner do? He didn’t invest a few hundred dollars in a battery-powered back-up sump pump. Maybe their contractor never mentioned it, maybe they didn’t know such a thing existed, or maybe it looked too complicated to install. My guess is that it most likely seemed like an unnecessary expense.

Fast forward a few years … Someday, two things are going to happen at the same time: It’s going to rain, and rain a lot. That “once in every 5 years” thunderstorm. The other thing that’s going to happen is that the power is going to go out. Here’s the irony to me: When is the greatest chance of no power? During that once in every five years thunderstorm that produces a record rainfall! The ultimate double whammy! Or, someday, years down the road, like all mechanical things, that sump pump is going to wear out and stop pumping.

In either scenario, there’s going to be thousands of dollars worth of damage and anguish that could have been prevented with a small investment. But alas, that would have been extra money that could have gone to the HDTV or upgraded carpet.

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