Don't make these 9 common mistakes with your sump pump

Posted Mar 31, 2021 in Waterproofing, Sump Pump Solutions

Submersible sump pump

A sump pump is a pump that is used to remove water that has gath­ered into a sump basin designed to col­lect water, usu­al­ly found in the base­ment of a home. There are a few ways the water may enter the sump pump: it enters by fun­nel­ing into the pump through the des­ig­nat­ed perime­ter drains in a basement’s sys­tem of water­proof­ing, or by grav­i­ty because of ground­wa­ter or rain­fall, if the base­ment hap­pens to be below the water table level.

Sump pumps are most com­mon­ly used when base­ments reg­u­lar­ly flood, and also to solve issues asso­ci­at­ed with damp­ness (again, if the base­ment is locat­ed below the water table lev­el). The main pur­pose of a sump pump is to pump and send water away from the house, to a place where it can cause few­er prob­lems — usu­al­ly a city storm drain or a dry well.

Sump pumps are usu­al­ly hard wired direct­ly into the elec­tri­cal sys­tem of a home; how­ev­er, some sump pumps may have an addi­tion­al bat­tery back up sys­tem. Occa­sion­al­ly, a home’s pres­sur­ized water sys­tem will pow­er the pump in a home, which effec­tive­ly elim­i­nates the need for elec­tric­i­ty all togeth­er — although it is done at the expense of using potable water, which can poten­tial­ly make them more expen­sive to oper­ate than their elec­tri­cal pump counterparts.

Main­tain­ing your sump pump

It is impor­tant to keep in mind that a sump basin can over­flow if it is not con­stant­ly and prop­er­ly pumped. For this rea­son, it is imper­a­tive that you have a back­up sys­tem in place for your sump pump in the event that the main pow­er to your home is out for an extend­ed peri­od of time, such as is often the case in a severe storm.

Of course, that isn’t the only mis­take that can poten­tial­ly hap­pen when deal­ing with a sump pump. Read on for some of the most com­mon mis­takes that hap­pen with sump pumps — and how to avoid them.

Sump pump mistakes

Mis­take #1: Let­ting debris get in the pump.

To avoid this com­mon mis­take, make sure that your sump pump does not sit on any loose silt, small-sized grav­el, or any oth­er type of debris that could eas­i­ly be sucked up into the pump — because it will cause a prob­lem. Instead, use large rocks or grav­el at least the size of a dime so that your lines will not get clogged, which can ruin the motor in your pump.

Mis­take #2: Issues with the float switch.

Afloat switch sim­ply tells the sump pump motor to stop once the water lev­el becomes too low. Because of what it does, your sump pump will need to have plen­ty of space around the float and switch for the arm to both free float and also sink. If there isn’t suf­fi­cient room or if there is some type of obstruc­tion in the way, the float will like­ly cause the pump to work improp­er­ly, which can burn up your motor.

Mis­take #3: Errors with the check valve.

A sump pump’s check valve sim­ply cre­ates a bar­ri­er that pre­vents any water from flow­ing back­ward into the pump. There should be an arrow print­ed around the check val­ue that indi­cates in which direc­tion the valve should face. Make sure the arrow is point­ing away from the sump pump.

Mis­take #4: Not test­ing your sump pump system.

Basi­cal­ly speak­ing, there are typ­i­cal­ly 3 lev­els of need” for a sump pump. Lev­el 1 is when your sump pump basi­cal­ly runs con­stant­ly, even when there is lit­tle to no rain­fall. Lev­el 2 is con­sid­ered to be the ide­al” sce­nario, when your pump isn’t nor­mal­ly run­ning — but does occa­sion­al­ly run when the need aris­es, such as dur­ing heavy rain or storm, and then shuts off. Lev­el 3 is when your pump nev­er runs.

You need to test your sys­tem reg­u­lar­ly, or at least once a year. But how do you test your sys­tem? That’s easy — just pour water in. Take a 5‑gallon buck­et filled with water, and then slow­ly pour the water in (think about the rate in which rain­wa­ter may enter the pump) until the float trig­gers your pump to acti­vate. Next, you should ide­al­ly see the water lev­el slow­ly drop and then even­tu­al­ly shut off again once the float has dropped back down below the shut-off lev­el. If this isn’t what hap­pens with your sys­tem, you will need to trou­bleshoot any issues that you may be hav­ing for repairs or replacements.

Mis­take #5: A bro­ken dis­charge pipe.

The worst part about a bro­ken dis­charge pipe is that the break can occur under­ground — mak­ing it impos­si­ble to see or know about until it’s too late. And how will you know it’s too late? When you walk into your base­ment… and find every­thing float­ing. Chances are, some­thing sim­i­lar has hap­pened to some­one you know, at some point or anoth­er. The moral of the sto­ry? Always inspect your dis­charge pipes, whether they stick out from your house or you have an under­ground system.

Mis­take #6: Some­one unplugged your pump.

This one seems like a no brain­er, but it actu­al­ly hap­pens more often than you may think. Some­one goes down into your base­ment and needs an elec­tri­cal out­let for some­thing. In order to plug up said item, they acci­den­tal­ly unplug your sump pump… and for­get to plug it back in. For­tu­nate­ly, this one is a sim­ple fix: always check to make sure you plug the sump pump back up. Or, bet­ter yet, nev­er unplug it.

Mis­take #7: Fail­ing to check for loose wiring in your system.

Check­ing for loose or faulty wires is anoth­er sim­ple step that should be includ­ed in your check­list of reg­u­lar sys­tem main­te­nance. How will you know if your sump pump may have loose wires? One indi­ca­tion is if your sump pump sud­den­ly stops. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, with­out check­ing some­thing sim­ple as the wiring, you may very well be over­look­ing some­thing that is a sim­ple fix to get the pump back in work­ing order.

To check the wiring first, turn off pow­er to the pump at the source. Next, dis­con­nect the pump. Check the pump, inspect­ing for any loose wires and replac­ing any that you may find. Install the pump again, restore pow­er, and then see if the pump begins work­ing again.

Mis­take #8: Not lis­ten­ing to the sump pump motor.

Believe it or not, mis­takes can often be made if you don’t sim­ply lis­ten to the motor of your sump pump. If the motor and pump are both run­ning, then you will need to inspect the out­side pump (where the water should be escap­ing). If no water is com­ing out, then you will need to do some trou­bleshoot­ing. Per­haps a water pipe may be blocked, or your check valve may be stuck. Some of these are fair­ly straight­for­ward fix­es that are easy to do your­self; oth­er times, it is bet­ter to call in a team of professionals.

This leads us to mis­take #9, quite pos­si­bly the biggest mis­take and also the most com­mon­ly made mis­take of all…

Mis­take #9: Not rec­og­niz­ing when a pro­fes­sion­al needs to step in and com­plete any nec­es­sary repairs to your sump pump.

If you have looked over your sump pump and inspect­ed all of the minor details and you have exhaust­ed trou­bleshoot­ing any issues you may have dis­cov­ered, you should always call a pro­fes­sion­al to get the repairs start­ed. By sim­ply check­ing if the water is dis­charg­ing prop­er­ly on a reg­u­lar basis, you will eas­i­ly be able to deter­mine when your pump may need pro­fes­sion­al repairs.

Need Sump Pump Help?

Look­ing to have a new sump pump installed in your home, or have an issue with your cur­rent one? Let Fam­i­ly Water­proof­ing Solu­tions take care of your sump pump and water­proof­ing needs. Call us today (708) 330‑4466 and sched­ule an appoint­ment.

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