Sump pump maintenance for your home

Posted Mar 31, 2021 in Waterproofing, Sump Pump Solutions

Sump pump

Most of the time, your home’s sump pump works effi­cient­ly and invis­i­bly in the back­ground. In areas with much ground­wa­ter, its reg­u­lar on and off sounds merge with the tapes­try of your home life. In areas with low ground­wa­ter, the pump may not even turn on for years, if ever. Many home­own­ers who have sump pumps might not be aware that they have one. Yet locat­ing your sump pump, under­stand­ing its oper­a­tions, and above all, know­ing how to main­tain it, are all vital to keep­ing your house in top shape.

What is a sump pump and what does it do?

A sump pump is a small, elec­tri­cal­ly oper­at­ed water pump locat­ed in a lined hole called a sump pit. The pump is designed to be sub­merged in water. When the water lev­el in the sump pit reach­es a cer­tain height, the sump pump auto­mat­i­cal­ly turns on and expels the water. When the water lev­el drops far enough, the pump turns off.

A sump pump can pro­tect your home in two ways: First and most impor­tant, a sump pump will rid your home of ground­wa­ter intru­sion on a reg­u­lar basis. This is the most com­mon use for a sump pump. When a sump pump acti­vates, it is no cause for alarm, as the pump is sim­ply doing its job. Ground­wa­ter com­ing towards the house from below or side­ways is cap­tured by per­me­able rock-filled drains, and that water is divert­ed to the sump pit, where the pump sends it back outside.

Sec­ond and far less com­mon, a sump pump has the poten­tial to evac­u­ate large quan­ti­ties of water dur­ing an unex­pect­ed water event. High­er qual­i­ty sump pumps are rat­ed at up to 4,000 to 5,000 gal­lons per hour dis­charge flow. This means that, in the­o­ry, your home’s sump pump could expel water dur­ing a cat­a­stroph­ic event such as minor flood­ing or a bro­ken water sup­ply pipe. In prac­tice, this rarely hap­pens. Sump pumps are most­ly about deal­ing with ground­wa­ter intrusion.

When and how often to main­tain your sump pump

At the least, you should check on and main­tain your sump pump once a year. How­ev­er, because the sump pump is so crit­i­cal to a well-func­tion­ing home, try to check that it is work­ing sev­er­al times through­out the year.

Ear­ly spring is typ­i­cal­ly the sea­son when ground­wa­ter ris­es in response to fac­tors such as win­ter pre­cip­i­ta­tion and snowmelt. So, late win­ter and ear­ly spring is the ide­al time to main­tain your sump pump. But ground­wa­ter move­ment is dif­fi­cult to pre­dict, and a host of oth­er fac­tors may come into play, as well, such as soil type, local pump­ing oper­a­tions, and changes in pre­cip­i­ta­tion. This means that you should check on your sump pump through­out the year.

How to main­tain your sump pump

To locate your sump pump, find the low­est pos­si­ble point in your house. In most hous­es, this is the base­ment or the crawl­space. Sump pumps are nev­er installed above ground lev­el, on upper floors.

  1. All sump pumps are depen­dent on a GFCI elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion. GFCIs some­times will erro­neous­ly turn off on their own, ren­der­ing your sump pump use­less. Make sure that the GFCI itself is work­ing and that pow­er is run­ning to the sump pump.
  2. Vibra­tions can cause sump pumps to tilt to the side. Make sure that the sump pump is upright and that its float ball moves freely.
  3. Does the sump pump actu­al­ly pump water? The best way to find out is to pour water into the sump pit. You will need to pour a gen­er­ous amount to cause the pump to turn on. After the pump acti­vates, stay around to ver­i­fy that the water is actu­al­ly discharged.

Com­mon sump pump prob­lems and solutions

If your sump pump is not oper­at­ing the way it should, or not oper­at­ing at all, most fix­es are rel­a­tive­ly sim­ple and inex­pen­sive. These fix­es revolve around the elec­tri­cal con­nec­tion, water intake and dis­charge, and the float and switch mechanisms.

Sump pump does not turn on

The water lev­el may be too low to trig­ger oper­a­tions. Or you might have a blown fuse or tripped cir­cuit break­er on the ser­vice pan­el. Final­ly, pull out the pump and make sure that the inlet valve is not clogged with debris.

Sump pump does not shut off

Check to see that the switch on the pump is work­ing prop­er­ly. If not, replace the switch. Look at the dis­charge pipe and clear any obstruc­tions. Also, a sump pump that con­stant­ly runs might be under­sized for the job. Step­ping up to a high­er-lev­el pump with greater dis­charge is the only solution.

Sump pump starts and stops too frequently

An under­sized sump pump might be the prob­lem. But often, the solu­tion is eas­i­er and cheap­er: the dis­charge pipe might have an obstruc­tion that caus­es back­flow. Thus, water that tries to dis­charge is pre­vent­ed from doing so. The water runs back­ward, fill­ing the sump pit, and caus­ing the sump pump to start up again.

When to replace your sump pump

Should you replace your sump pump if it is old but still work­ing? While this issue of replac­ing work­ing items is always debat­able, some experts say that sump pumps should be replaced every ten years, work­ing or not. If the motor is faulty, it is usu­al­ly a dif­fi­cult fix that may be more expen­sive than replac­ing the entire sump pump. A major­i­ty of sump pump man­u­fac­tur­er lim­it­ed war­ranties run between three and five years long.

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 to sched­ule your free esti­mate

What our customers say

  • You and your crew did a great job in our base­ment and crawl­space. You went the extra mile to insure that all of our water seep­age prob­lems are over. We would rec­om­mend you high­ly to oth­er peo­ple. Your qual­i­ty and time­ly work out­match­es all the others.

    William
  • Work­man­ship and ser­vice were excel­lent. Would rec­om­mend with­out reservation.

    Ed
  • We con­tract­ed Fam­i­ly Water­proof­ing Solu­tions for exte­ri­or wall seal­ing and foun­da­tion crack repair ser­vices. Ken was very thor­ough in explain­ing the work that would be done, and his crew did a great job. This busi­ness was a plea­sure to work with.

    Stacie T.