If you have a home with a basement or crawlspace, you may also have a sump pump. Your sump pump can make the difference between enjoying a heavy spring rain or panicking over the water damage it caused. You probably know how important your sump pump is, but did you know your sump pump needs regular maintenance to function properly?
What is a Sump Pump?
A sump pump is a pump that sits in a small pit at the lowest point of a basement or crawlspace. Its job is to pump away any groundwater that seeps into the home.
Submersible Pump: sits in the wet pump all the time; quieter, but harder to maintain
Pedestal Pump: motor sits above the pit with a hose that leads into it; cheaper and easier to maintain, but much louder
Sump Pump Maintenance
Sump pumps are fairly easy and fast to maintain, but this also makes them easy to forget. It’s a good idea to put pump maintenance on your spring-cleaning checklist.
Disconnect and Clean: This step may sound difficult, but it’s not. Disconnect the pump from its power source and discharge line, then remove it from the pit. Unless there are model-specific instructions in the manual, use a hose and brush to clear away any debris like dirt and small stones.
Check and Clear Discharge: While the pump is removed, double-check that the discharge line has no blockages. Small rocks and the like can get wedged in the line, inhibiting the water flow and reducing the effectiveness of the pump.
Reconnect and Check Power: After reconnecting the pump, check the power source. If the pump isn’t hard-wired, make sure that the ground fault circuit interrupter hasn’t been tripped.
Test the Pump: This step should really be done monthly, especially during the rainy season. The easiest way to test that the pump is still functioning is to pour a bucket of water into the pit. The pump should turn on immediately and the water should be pumped away. If the pump doesn’t work, first double-check that the float isn’t stuck. If the float isn’t stuck, it’s time to call to have the pump serviced.
Like all appliances, sump pumps will not last forever. Generally, submersible pumps will last 5-15 years and pedestal pumps will last 20-30 years, but this is very model specific and greatly depends on how much use the pump gets. Always be aware of the replacement intervals given by the manufacturer. Call a licensed plumber for an inspection if you feel that your pump is coming to the end of its life.
Sump pump maintenance is super-fast and easy. It’s important to schedule maintenance regularly so that it’s not forgotten because the sump pump plays a massive role in the protection of your home. You don't think about the functionality of your sump pump until your basement starts flooding, and then you realize your sump pump isn't working. Prevent headaches with proactive maintenance.