Sump pumps are a traditional device that sucks and pumps out excess water flooding a basement. Most pumps are electrical, with some having battery packs in case the electricity goes out.
There also are systems that do not use electricity at all. However, do not rely solely on the sump pump; have a backup plan for flooding in case the power goes out.
To make sure your sump pump runs as efficiently as possible, there are things you should periodically check. Below are some mistakes homeowners with sump pumps often make.
Failure to Test
Like any other mechanical device, a sump pump can wear out or experience issues from a variety of factors. Letting your sump pump sit there year after year without testing it is playing with fire, as it may fail the one time you really need it.
Test your sump pump at least once a year by slowly pouring approximately 5 gallons of water into it. Note when the float signals the pump to turn on. Watch to see that the water slowly drains and the pump shuts off when the water goes below the float. If nothing happens, check to make sure the sump pump is plugged in. If the pump still doesn’t activate, it needs to be repaired.
Neglecting the Discharge Pipe and Wiring
It’s hard to know if something is blocking the discharge pipe or if it’s cracked, so it is necessary to periodically inspect the pipe to make sure everything looks fine. Also, check the inside of the sump pump to determine if the wiring is loose. Do not inspect wiring until you have shut off the power to the pump. After the power is off, disconnect the sump pump and check the wiring. If everything seems fine, put the pump back together and turn the power on; if wires are loose, replace them.
Since a sump pump is all about suction, it should not be placed on or near anything that might
accidentally fall in and get sucked up by the pump. Keep the pump away from any loose gravel, small rocks, or silt. If you must use rocks or silt, make sure they are big enough to not get past the pump’s opening.
Not Checking the Check Valve
This task seems obvious, but sometimes, a plumber or handyperson will install the check valve the wrong way. It’s not pretty when everything backs up into the basement. The check valve should have a directional arrow showing the proper orientation of the valve.
Obstructing the Float
The float is the part that activates the sump pump, so if it’s not working correctly, the sump pump either won’t turn on when needed or it will turn on when it isn’t needed. Make sure the float and the arm switch have plenty of space to move freely. Clear any obstructions.
Leaving It Alone
Yes, it’s temporarily less expensive to ignore a faulty sump pump, but in the long run, you’re looking at expensive repairs once the flooding starts to cause cracks, bowing, mold, and other moisture-related problems. If you’ve checked everything as listed above and things look fine but the pump still isn’t working, hire a professional to take a look. Short-term solutions are never better than long-term ones.
Acculevel Installs Sump Pump Systems
Our foundation and basement specialists at Acculevel can determine the best sump pump system for your needs. Our systems have backups for power failures, which is important if the electricity goes out during a heavy rainstorm. We also can repair any basement and foundation issues that are results of poor waterproofing. If you live in the Midwest and would like to schedule an appointment for our experts to take a look at your home, give us a call at (866) 669-3349 or email us at [email protected].