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Plumbing

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips Every Homeowner Should Know

February 18, 2021

The accumulation of unwelcome water in your home can be a troublesome and costly issue. This is why the humble sump pump—a behind-the-scenes workhorse appliance—can be a homesaver when you need it most.

A sump pump’s purpose is to remove excess water, thereby preventing structural damage, mold growth and/or damage to furniture or stored items in a basement or crawl space.

When the ground becomes saturated after a heavy rain or a spring snow melt, excess water will flow into your sump pit. As it becomes full, a float switch on your sump pump will activate the pump. The water is then pumped from the sump pit and away from your home, which prevents the rising groundwater from flooding your basement.

Sump pumps are invaluable when you need them, but they often sit for months without use. By performing simple routine care and maintenance you can keep your sump pump in tip-top shape so it is ready to bail you out when you need it most.

Check your discharge pipe

Check your discharge pipe to ensure that it is located at least four feet away from your home. If it is closer than four feet, the discharged water will drain along the foundation again. Not only is this an attraction for insects, but the water will likely end up re-entering the sump pit and need to be pumped out again—wasting power and not accomplishing much.

Also, avoid positioning the discharge point under a deck or porch as this water could accumulate and lead to ground settlement, insects, or wood rot.

Perform routine maintenance

About once a season, it’s a smart idea to inspect and test your system to avoid any surprises. This includes cleaning the pump inlet screen, checking the power cord to ensure it’s connected, and performing a quick test of the pump. You can do this by dumping a bucket of water into the sump pit to raise the float and check to see that it turns on. Once a year, we recommend homeowners inspect the sump pit as well as remove the pump to clean and inspect it.

Avoid a frozen sump pump

If you live in an area that experiences extreme winter weather—like much of the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic—extra care should be taken to avoid a frozen sump pump discharge pipe. Consider burying exposed exterior pipes underground or insulating them to prevent this from causing a failure.

Add a back-up system

If your power goes out during a storm and your primary pump fails, a battery-powered backup pump can give you several hours of additional protection from water damage. Investing in a sump pump backup system gives you great peace of mind if you’re away from home when your power goes out and ensures your home stays dry and protected.

Alternatively, if you have a standby generator that powers some portions of your home, ensure that your primary sump pump is connected to an outlet that maintains power during an outage.

How often should I replace my sump pump?

The life expectancy of a sump pump can vary widely depending on the size, the amount of debris that may enter the pit, and how much use the pump gets. A pump that runs more frequently will have a shorter lifespan than one that only operates on very rainy days.

Pedestal sump pumps, which were the residential standard until modern submersible pumps became popular, tend to have a longer lifespan. However, pedestal style pumps aren’t built to handle particles or debris of any kind. Regardless of maintenance and cleaning, these devices do not last forever. If yours has surpassed the 10-year mark, it’s time to start proactively thinking about a replacement.

4 Signs Your Sump Pump Needs Repair

If you notice one or more of the following issues, your sump pump may require immediate repair or replacement.

1. Your sump pump is running continuously

2. Your sump pump switches on and off more frequently than usual

3. Your sump pump making gurgling, clanging, or rattling noises

4. Your sump pump is working, but shuts off before all the water is pumped out

If your sump pump system is exhibiting any of these warning signs, we can help. Sila’s plumbing experts can quickly and reliably diagnose your problem, and recommend the right fix. Contact us today for fast, reliable and affordable service.

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