You and Your Sump Pump: A Home-Saving Relationship
Water is a powerful force and the damage it can do to your home can be catastrophic. Water can be particularly problematic for a home with a basement. Keeping a dry basement is critical and a sump pump is arguably the most important piece of equipment you will ever own in the fight against water.
How Does a Sump Pump Work?
A well-built basement will have a perimeter drain system to collect water as it seeps into the basement. Homes where the basement is below the property's water table are particularly prone to water. Excessive rainfall can also cause water to seep into an otherwise dry basement. As water comes into the basement, it is collected into the drains and channeled to the well where the sump pump operates. The pump works to remove water from the well and send it away from the home to a location that is non-problematic such as a municipal storm drain. Older homes may have a configuration that drains water into the sewer which may be against current building codes.
Pumps can be submersible or pedestal models. Pedestal models have the motor above the sump and are more obvious, but more easily serviced by professionals. A pump with back up power or a back up pump is an option. If a pump doesn't operate continuously, the sump basin may quickly overflow.
How Do I Maintain My Home's Sump Pump?
A regular visual inspection can help ensure that your sump pump is operating optimally. Make certain that the discharge line is not stopped up or, in the winter months, frozen shut. Check the inlet screen and the pit. Remove any debris such as rocks or leaves that may have found their way down there. Any debris in the pit can quickly block the pump and cause the motor to fail. We recommend that once a year you unplug the pump, remove it from the pit and flush it with water. At that time, you can also see into the pit well enough to remove any foreign matter.
Is My Sump Pump About to Fail?
Even the most reliable pump can fail with little advance notice. Check on your pump regularly, especially during periods of extraordinarily heavy rain. If a pump suddenly fails, or the pump is overwhelmed, flooding can happen very rapidly and cause extensive damage throughout your lower level. If you suspect that your pump is not working properly, you can test it by slowly pouring a bucket of water into the pit. The pump's float should rise and the pump should kick on. If it doesn't start, ensure that it is getting electricity. If power isn't the problem, the float switch or the valve may be at fault.
If you are having trouble with your sump pump, a licensed plumber like John Baethke and Son Plumbing can quickly diagnose the problem or replace the pump if necessary.