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How to Service and Maintain Your Basement Sump Pump

How to Service and Maintain Your Basement Sump Pump

A basement sump pump serves as a safeguard against water damage by efficiently removing accumulated water from your basement or crawl space.

By understanding its basics and taking proactive measures, you can ensure that your sump pump is always ready to tackle any water-related challenges.

Understanding the Basics of a Basement Sump Pump

What is a Basement Sump Pump?

A basement sump pump is a device installed in a pit or sump basin, usually located in the lowest part of the basement or crawl space.

It works by automatically detecting rising water levels and pumping out the water to a designated area away from your home's foundation.

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

When water enters the sump pit, a float switch or pressure sensor triggers the sump pump to start. The pump activates and removes the water through a discharge pipe, preventing it from causing flooding or damage to your property.

Regular Maintenance of a Basement Sump Pump

Proper maintenance is essential to keep your sump pump in optimal condition. By performing monthly and annual maintenance tasks, you can minimize the risk of malfunctions and prolong the life of your sump pump.

Sump Pump

Why is Maintenance Important?

Regular maintenance helps identify and address potential issues before they escalate. By proactively maintaining your sump pump, you can ensure it remains functional, reliable, and ready to handle excess water.

Monthly Maintenance Tasks

  1. Cleaning the Sump Pit: Periodically remove any debris, dirt, or sediment that may accumulate in the sump pit. A clean pit allows the pump to operate efficiently and prevents clogs or obstructions.

  2. Checking the Pump and Float Switch: Inspect the pump and float switch for any signs of damage or wear. Ensure the float switch moves freely and is not obstructed. Test the pump by pouring water into the pit and observing its activation.

  3. Testing the Backup Power Source: If your sump pump has a battery backup system, test it regularly to ensure it functions properly. This step is especially important during power outages or severe storms.

Annual Maintenance Tasks

  1. Inspecting the Discharge Pipe: Check the discharge pipe for any leaks, blockages, or damage. Ensure the pipe directs water away from your home's foundation without any restrictions.

  2. Cleaning or Replacing the Pump: Over time, debris and sediment can accumulate within the pump, affecting its performance. Clean or replace the pump as recommended by the manufacturer to maintain its efficiency.

  3. Testing the Check Valve: The check valve prevents water from flowing back into the sump pit. Test the valve to ensure it opens and closes properly, preventing any reverse flow.  We recommend clear check valves (available in 1.5 and 2 inch) to help monitor for failure.  

Troubleshooting Common Issues with a Basement Sump Pump

Even with regular maintenance, sump pumps can encounter problems. Here are some common issues you may encounter and troubleshooting steps to resolve them:

Sump Pump Not Turning On

  1. Check if the pump is receiving power by verifying the electrical connections and circuit breaker.
  2. Inspect the float switch for any obstructions or damage.
  3. Ensure the float switch is set at the appropriate activation level.

Frequent Pump Cycling

  1. Verify that the float switch is properly adjusted to avoid unnecessary cycling.  
  2. Check for any leaks in the discharge pipe or a malfunctioning check valve.

Strange Noises Coming from the Pump

  1. Inspect the pump for any debris or objects that may be causing the noise.
  2. Check for loose or damaged components within the pump.

Pump Running Continuously

  1. Ensure that the float switch is not obstructed and is properly adjusted.
  2. Check for an increased volume of water entering the sump pit, indicating a potential drainage issue.

Water Not Being Discharged Properly

  1. Check for any clogs or blockages in the discharge pipe.
  2. Verify that the discharge pipe is directed away from your home and is not frozen or obstructed.

Backup Power Failure

  1. Inspect the battery backup system and replace the battery if necessary.
  2. Test the backup system regularly to ensure it is functioning correctly.

Extending the Lifespan of a Basement Sump Pump

Taking proactive steps to extend the lifespan of your basement sump pump can save you time, money, and potential water damage. Here are some tips:

Properly Maintaining the Surrounding Area

  1. Ensure the sump pit remains clean and free from debris.
  2. Keep the surrounding area clear to allow easy access to the pump and pit.

Avoiding Common Mistakes

  1. Avoid pouring excessive amounts of water into the sump pit unnecessarily.
  2. Do not dispose of non-biodegradable materials or chemicals into the sump pit.

Upgrading to a Higher-Quality Pump

Consider investing in a high-quality sump pump that is more durable, efficient, and reliable. Choose a pump that meets your specific needs and comes with favorable customer reviews.

Considering a Battery Backup System or a Water Powered Back Up System

To ensure your sump pump functions during power outages, consider installing a battery backup system. This backup power source can provide peace of mind during severe storms or electrical failures.  Additionally water powered pumps that will operate from your city water supply can be an good option.  

Servicing and maintaining your basement sump pump is vital for its effectiveness and longevity. By understanding the basics, installing it correctly, performing regular maintenance, troubleshooting issues, and taking steps to extend its lifespan, you can ensure your basement sump pump remains a reliable defense against water damage.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How often should I test my basement sump pump? It is recommended to test your sump pump at least once every three months to ensure it is functioning correctly.

Can I install a basement sump pump myself, or should I hire a professional? While it is possible to install a sump pump yourself, hiring a professional ensures proper installation and reduces the risk of errors or complications.

What should I do if my sump pump fails during a heavy storm?  If your sump pump fails during a storm, contact a professional immediately. In the meantime, you can use a backup pump or manually remove water using buckets or a wet vacuum.

Is it normal for a sump pump to run continuously during heavy rainfall? Sump pumps may run more frequently during heavy rainfall, but continuous running may indicate an underlying issue. Consult a professional to determine the cause.

Can a basement sump pump prevent all types of water damage? While a basement sump pump is effective at preventing water damage caused by groundwater or minor flooding, it may not be sufficient in cases of severe flooding or plumbing issues. It is always recommended to have additional water damage prevention measures in place.

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