As a homeowner, you’ve probably already learned that prevention is better than reaction, and proper maintenance with everything is much less expensive than dealing with an emergency or large repair. Additionally, routine maintenance can significantly increase the life of any piece of equipment.
This is no different for sump pumps.
Sump pumps are one of the most important disaster prevention devices in homes, as they protect basements from thousands of dollars in water damage.
Think of this system as any other device or appliance: it needs routine maintenance to ensure it’s reliable and functioning effectively.
Use this guide to learn about sump pump repair and maintenance, including why sump pumps fail, benefits of sump pump maintenance, and when it’s best to discuss sump pump repair with a professional.
Why Sump Pump Maintenance is So Important
While sump pumps are invisible home necessities, most homeowners don’t pay much attention to theirs until it stops working correctly.
Without question, routine sump pump maintenance is the absolute best way to keep your home’s infrastructure running smoothly.
Simply put, sump pump maintenance is so crucial because it helps prevent an impending catastrophe, like a flooded basement, flooded lawn, or backed up water (sewage) all over your home.
In addition to ensuring a sump pump is in working order, the maintenance process can detect looming issues that can hurt the sump pump shortly down the road, like clogged lines, dirty filters, and signs of wear and tear.
What Causes Sump Pumps to Fail?
4 Reasons Why Sump Pumps Fail & How Maintenance Can Prevent Your Pump from Breaking Down When You Need It Most
Sump pumps are not indestructible, and they wear and can break just like any other piece of equipment.
Here are common reasons why they fail and how regular maintenance can help keep it in top shape.
The number one cause of sump pump failures is an electrical power outage. While you can’t prevent the power from going out in your home, you can easily prevent a sump pump emergency by having a backup generator that can be manually activated.
When your home is caught in the middle of a strong, heavy rainstorm that knocks out your power, having a backup electrical source for your sump pump can prevent your basement from flooding and potentially save you thousands of dollars in water damage.
Along the same lines of a power outage, some elements of the sump pump may be susceptible to damage from power surges. You can protect your sump pump by installing a surge protection device.
The most common mechanical issue with sump pumps is a problem with the pressure sensor or the float activator arm. This arm automatically turns on the pump.
The arm usually becomes ineffective when the pump becomes off kilter inside the basin. Because all sump pumps depend on the on/off switch to function properly and, therefore, the float arm mechanism to remain in position and operating correctly, a sump pump float switch repair and routine maintenance can help catch any issues with the float activator arm.
In general, you can reduce the chance of a costly sump pump motor repair or emergency by completing maintenance recommendations during routine tests. We discuss the maintenance process further down in the guide.
Also, it’s important that you check the effectiveness of the backup generator to guarantee that it’s working correctly.
Without a clear way for water to exit, the entire sump pump will render ineffective and compound a wide array of other issues.
To prevent a sump pump emergency from a blocked or frozen discharge line, it’s exceeding beneficial to place a grated covering on the opening of the pipe so debris and animals do not get in.
By insulating your discharge line and your intake section, you can prevent the discharge line from freezing or becoming blocked by ice and snow.
Benefits of Sump Pump Maintenance
Regular sump pump maintenance ensures your sump pump will work when you need it to.
Reliability – Regular sump pump maintenance ensures your sump pump will have the ability to successfully evacuate the water in your basement as efficiently as possible.
Efficiency – Regular sump pump maintenance can extend the life of your pump because small problems won’t be left unattended and end up destroying your sump pump or significantly decreasing its life expectancy.
Extended Life – Regular sump pump maintenance avoids breakdowns in the inner workings of the pump and helps eliminate costly repairs or a premature new installation.
Cost Effective – Regular sump pump maintenance removes the stress of disasters like a flooded basement, ruined lawn, and unpleasant odors in your home.
Common Sump Pump Parts that Need Maintained
There are specific pieces of a sump pump that can break more frequently and require regular maintenance. Check these elements of your sump pump to see how they’re functioning:
- The Check Valve
The check valve keeps water in the pipe from back flowing into the pit when the sump pump switches off.
To check your check valve: Pour water into the sump pit. If the water triggers the pump but the water returns to the pit, your check valve probably needs replaced.
- The Float
The float rises as water fills up the pump and signals the pump to start pulling water out of the pit.
To check your float: Slowly pour water into the pit. If the float doesn’t rise with the water and the pump doesn’t activate to remove the water, the float must be replaced as soon as possible.
- The Pump’s Overall Cleanliness
If there is debris in the pump, this can contribute to the float failing. Regularly clean the pit and remove any loose debris.
- The Impeller
The impeller is the screw or fanlike device that moves the water, and it can become jammed with debris.
To check your impeller: Unplug the pump first. You will have to then disconnect the pump from the piping and remove the pump for the pit. This is the only way to access the screen and impeller. Once you’ve located these components, remove any debris you find and reassemble/reconnect the sump pump.
- The Electricity
Sump pumps run on the home’s electricity, so if your sump pump doesn’t seem to be working at all, all electrical connections to the sump pump must be checked.
To check your pump’s connection to the electricity: Once you ensure your pump is plugged in properly and securely, guarantee the connection by checking the circuit breaker. If the home’s electricity seems fine and your sump is still not responding, you may need to replace the pump in its entirety.
Sump Pump Maintenance and Inspection Process
You and your plumbing professional should inspect and test your sump pump regularly, especially right before storm season. The sump pump inspection and maintenance process should include these steps:
- Ensure the sump pump is receiving power and all connections are safe.
- Clear dirt and debris from the pit.
- Add water to the sump pit and fill to the level needed to activate the pump. If the pump does not turn on, call your plumbing professional for repair right away.
- If your sump pump has a float switch, lift it to test the pump. Repair is necessary if the pump does not activate.
- If the sump pump activates as expected, fill the pit with clean water 2-3 times and cycle the water through to wash away any dirt or material inside it.
- Listen for any abnormal sounds coming from the motor.
When It’s Time to Call a Professional for Sump Pump Repair
It’s always highly suggested that homeowners check common sump pump elements and functionality. Repair, on the other hand, can be more complicated and require precise part restoration and installation.
For items like the check valve, impeller, electricity, motor, and discharge hose, repair and maintenance can get more complex, and, without understanding exact connections and placements, a DIY repair may keep your sump pump out of commission that much longer.
Experts in Sump Pump Maintenance and Repair: The Invisible Excavations Team is Available 24/7
If your home has a sump pump, don’t gamble on its functionality. Employ regular maintenance checks and get in touch with the right support if your sump pump needs repair.
The team of plumbers and excavation experts at Invisible Excavations are masters at sump pump installation and repair.
For any issue or questions – any time of the day or night – we’ll be there for you.
Schedule your sump pump cleaning, repair and maintenance today!