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Sump Pump Maintenance

It’s that time of year when the weather creeps above freezing and snow and ice starts melting! 

Melting snow is certainly a welcome sign of Spring, but with melting snow comes water. And lots of it! This water needs somewhere to go, and that place could unfortunately be your basement. Most basements and some crawl spaces are equipped with flood control systems to keep water out. This is where your sump pump comes in.

What is a sump pump and what does it do?

A sump pump, submerged in a small pit usually in the corner of the foundation, quietly  releases ground and flood water outside of the house to keep the basement dry. When working correctly, you may not even notice the sump pump there, but with several inches of snow melt, the flood control system will be working overtime to keep water out of the house. 

A sump pump works to:

  1. The sump pump helps direct water away from your home when groundwater approaches.

  2. Keeps water from flooding into your crawlspace or basement. In the event of sudden rain or rapid melting snow, the sump pump works to prevent flooding due to the increase in water in or around your home.

A sump pump failure can be a major disaster, especially in a finished basement.  Flood waters can damage walls, appliances and possessions resulting in costly repairs and headache. Here is  helpful information to make sure your sump pump is in good condition and ready  to handle a great deal of water. 

Tips for Sump Pump Maintenance 

It’s best practice to check on your sump pump a few times a year; however, it’s more important to make sure your sump pump functions properly as Spring weather approaches.

Extend the drain spout

It is best to have your sump pump discharge as far from your house and foundation as possible. Twenty feet is recommended, so that water can seep into the ground, rather than pooling near the foundation and seeping back into the house. 

Keep the drain clear

Keep the sump pump drain line free of debris. Any organic matter can block the line and not let water flow out as effectively, potentially resulting in water backing up into the sump pit and into your basement. Also, make sure to remove any snow or ice from the drain line. 

Test for proper operation

Test the float switch by lifting it up out of the water to confirm the pump turns on. The operation is similar to a toilet cistern filling system, when water reaches a certain level, the float controls a switch to turn the pump on or off. Pouring a few gallons of water into the pit to make sure it ejects out of the house will also confirm the pump is working properly. 

Keep the pit clean

Any debris in the sump pit can cause clogs in the sump pump and discharge line. Remove any solid matter from the pit to keep it running normally. If you’re doing any sort of project that involves demolition or creation of dust and debris in the basement, make sure the pit is covered to prevent anything from falling in. 

Back it upIn the event of a severe storm or other electrical outage, if your sump pump doesn’t have power, it won’t work. A battery backup system is a great way to make sure you’ll stay high and dry in a storm, as the sump pump can still work even without electricity to the house.

Common problems you may see with your sump pump

If you come across issues with your sump pump, the solutions may involve your home’s electrical connection, water intake or float and switch mechanisms in your home.

Your sump pump isn’t turning on

If your sump pump doesn’t turn on this may be due to low water levels. If the water levels are too low, the sump pump won’t be triggered to turn on. A more serious issue that will cause your pump to not turn on would be a clogged valve.

Sump pump isn’t shutting off

If your sump pump won’t turn off, try to replace the switch and to clean the pump. It’s possible that the pump may be clogged.

The sump pump starts and stops often

Similar to the previously mentioned problems, the sump pump may be clogged. Because sump pumps work to deter water from entering your home, it’s very common that dirt, small rocks and other debris gets pulled in too. 

Hiring a professional to fix or replace your sump pump

Call a pro. If you don’t feel confident to diagnose and troubleshoot your flood control system, call a plumber or waterproofing company. They’ll be able to provide the best guidance on maintaining or replacing your flood control system to make sure water stays out of your basement! 

If your basement has accumulated excess water due to sump pump problems, make sure your home doesn’t develop mold! Contact us today for an inspection if you suspect potential mold.


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