A sump pump, to sum it up concisely is a pump installed in the basement of your home that keeps excess water from getting into your basement and flooding it during a heavy storm. Water from around and underneath your home drains into what is called a sump pump pit, and then gets pumped out so that it doesn’t flood your basement.
Just like with any other appliance, from your lawn mower to your refrigerator, you need to do sump pump maintenance. Here are some suggestions that can help save you both time and money in the upkeep of your sump pump.
1. Test Sump Pump Regularly
You can do this by pouring water into the pit of the sump pump until you have enough to lift the float that starts the pump running. If all is well, the pump should drain the water from the pit and then shut itself off very quickly. Check and be sure that the float is able to move about freely.
Find your check valve. The check valve has the job of keeping the water from running back down into the discharge pipe, through the pump, and ultimately back into the sump pump pit. Once the pump has shut off, listen for the sound of running water and examine the check valve carefully to make sure that it isn’t stuck open. That’s all there is to it. Just remember that the more often your pump has to cope with lots and lots of water, the more frequently you should do this test to be certain that everything is ok.
2. Clean Sump Pump Thoroughly
This involves cleaning your sump pit. For this you have to remove any dirt, gravel and other types of debris that may be present. Doing this will not only give your pump greater efficiency, but it will help it to last longer too. A quick way of doing this particular kind of sump pump maintenance is to use a wet/dry shop vacuum.
A. How Often Should the Sump Pump Be Cleaned?
. Monthly — If you use your sump pump to eliminate water from the washing
machine, then a monthly cleaning for the pump screen or inlet opening is
recommended. It’s further advised that you unplug the pump before attempting
to clean it, but remember to plug it back in once you’re done.
. Quarterly — If your sump pump is not used to eliminate washing machine
water, then the pump screen or inlet opening should be cleaned about once
every three or four months.
. Annually — Remove the sump pump and take pains to thoroughly clean the
pit and pump.
3. Back Up The Sump Pump
If you live in an area where there are frequent rain storms and your home often experiences power outages as a result, or in case your primary sump pump should fail, it makes sense to have a backup pump system. That’s something you might want to consider getting. In the case where your pump already has a backup battery, you should replace the battery around every two or three years.
4. Be Prepared to Replace the Sump Pump
It’s a simple fact of life that nothing, regardless of how well-cared for it is will last forever. Sump pumps are generally very reliable, but it will eventually wear out and have to be replaced. Don’t be surprised when this happens as it surely will. The more important the pump is to keeping your basement dry, the better prepared you should be.
5. Install an Alarm
Most sump pumps have a water level of flood alarms, which are normally powered by battery. A tank level alarm will make a loud beeping noise should your pump stop working. This will alert you that there is water accumulating in the pump pit.
6. GFCI Breaker
The sump pump should be plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter or (GFCI) outlet. Check and make sure that yours is and that the cord is not damaged in any way. Sometimes, in damp areas, GFCI breakers can trip, thus shutting off the sump pump. Every now and then check your sump pump so you can make sure that the GFCI is working and reset it if it isn’t.
7. Sump Pump Upright
Check to be sure that the pump is standing upright. Sometimes vibrations while it is working can make it fall or tilt to one side. If this happens it can jam the float arm and it won’t be able to activate the pump.
Because sump pumps collect water, it makes sense to have a removeable cover for yours to help keep water from collecting in the basement through evaporation. If you don’t have one, think about getting one, and if you do make sure that it fits correctly.
9. Backup Generators
There are some homeowners who opt to employ backup diesel or gasoline generators to supply them with electricity should there be a power outage. A small sump pump requires 800 to 100 watts to operate and can absorb as much as 1,800 watts when starting, so a backup generator must be correctly sized for this purpose.
In certain areas of the country, cases of basement flooding increase as spring sets in. Most of these instances are attributed to problems with a sump pump malfunctioning or dying altogether. The warmer weather causes the ground to thaw and it gradually becomes saturated with water. Basements, are readily available for all this water to leak into. That’s yet another reason why a sump pump is a necessity.
The important thing to remember is not to be afraid to consult a plumber, or someone who knows what they are doing about good sump pump maintenance. Then quiz them as much as you can. Ask questions, learn about the workings of your sump pump, and learn about your sump pump system. By doing this you will avoid emergency situations where your basements floods and you have to scramble about trying to find a professional to help.
Your sump pump requires regular maintenance so that it will continue to function correctly. You can learn how to do this on your own and avoid costly repairs. Sump pump maintenance is not difficult to do, and having the skills to do this for yourself just might come in handy in case of an emergency.