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properly maintain your sump pump

How To Check Your Sump Pump

Basement sump pumps are generally low-maintenance devices. But like other appliances, they may fail. Check out signs of sump pump failure and how you can maintain yours.

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properly maintain your sump pump

Neighborhoods across Washington, D.C., receive their fair share of rainfall in early spring. The higher precipitation during this time contributes significantly to high rates of basement water damage. And then there’s the issue of burst pipes or leaking pipes. These can also send water into the basement and ruin it. 

Your only hope against flooding is a functional sump pump that’s fed by interior drainage like the specially designed BasementGutter™ system. It is a sub-floor drainage system that collects water from the floor and wall joints before it reaches the basement floor interior. This collected water is then directed to drain into a sump pump system. Usually, the sump pump detects the levels of water entering the basin and actuates, ejecting water through a discharge line that goes to the backyard. Once the water has been cleared, the sump pump turns off.

If the sump pump is defective, not even the interior drainage will be of any use.

Signs of Sump Pump Failure

When the sump pump malfunctions, it’ll display some signs. Be on the lookout. Signs that your sump pump needs urgent repairs include:

  • Pump Actuates but Doesn’t Eject Water

When your pump turns on, it’s supposed to clear the basin. If it’s not doing so, the pump inlet screen could be clogged by dirt. You can call your local plumber or contractor who installed the sump pump and ask them to drain the basin, detach the pump, and clean up the inlet screen

  • Basin Fills, but Pump Doesn’t Actuate

Your sump pit needs just five gallons of water for the pump to actuate. If the basin appears to contain more than five gallons of water but doesn’t turn on the pump, some type of malfunction, like a defective motor or binding float switch, may be preventing actuation.

  • Basin Refills Fast and Pump Turns on Again

Once the pump shuts off, a check valve connected to the discharge line is supposed to stop water from flowing back to the basin. If the valve fails, water will flow back to the basin and actuate your pump and it will keep turning on and off.

  • Basin is Empty but Pump Running

If your sump pump continues to operate after emptying the sump basin, a defective float switch might be the problem. Count yourself lucky if you can discover this problem in time as sump pumps burn out after running dry for a long period. Remove the pump and call your local plumber or basement waterproofing contractor.

  • Sump Pump Maintenance

While sump pumps require less maintenance, they still need periodic inspection and testing. Spend a few minutes checking its condition every few months, especially when heavy rains are in the forecast. Failing to test whether the sump pump is working properly puts your home at risk of flooding and water damage, especially during a heavy downpour.

Some measures you can take to keep your sump pump working 365 days a year include:

  • Ensure your sump pump stays upright. Vibrations, when it’s running, can cause it to tilt or fall to one side. When this happens, it can jam its float arm.
  • Ensure the pump remains plugged to a functional ground fault circuit interrupters outlet and that its cord is a perfect shape.
  • Check and reset the GFCI from time to time as it can trip when the basement gets wet.
  • Detach the submersible pump from the sump pit, then clean the grate on its bottom. Sucking action can pull pebbles into your pump, obstructing the inlet and damaging the pump eventually.
  • Ensure the outlet pipes are tightly joined and ejected 20 feet away from the perimeter of your home.
  • Once in a while, pour water into the sump pit to see if the pump starts automatically and that water drains quickly when the pump comes on. If it doesn’t activate, have it serviced.
  • Ensure the vent hole in the discharge line is 100% clear.

If your neighborhood sits in a flood-prone area, we strongly advise you to get a battery backup pump. Stormy weather can cause power outages, so you can’t bank on an uninterrupted power supply. Even if the power doesn’t go out, there’s the possibility your sump pump won’t be able to deal with the aftermath of a powerful storm.

Have a defective sump pump? Don’t know what to do with it? Schedule a free sump pump inspection and discover what ails your sump pump. Better still, sign up for an annual maintenance plan. Our professionals will be able to fix your sump pump like they’ve been doing across many homes in Washington, D.C. They may also recommend sump pump upgrades and other waterproofing solutions to better protect your home.

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