Sump Pump Maintenance and Replacement
While April (and May) showers bring May flowers, some of those showers are actually heavy rains that can lead to flooding. If your home has flooded before, you know it’s no fun. Carpeting and furniture can be ruined, items stored in boxes can be destroyed, and mold, mildew and rot can present long-term health issues.
All of which means you need your sump pump and battery back-up to be working when those storms hit. Here are some quick maintenance tips.
- Test the pump. Slowly pour a bucket of water into the pit. You should hear the pump turn on and see the water level go down. A second person should also make sure the water is flowing through the outlet pipe.
- Clear the pit of debris such as silt and pebbles. This avoids clogs and extends the life of the pump. For ongoing maintenance, buy a lid to prevent more debris from entering the pit.
- Check for dirty mechanical parts, or a jammed float switch.
- If your back-up pump battery requires distilled water (newer models don’t), make sure the battery is filled about ½” below the top of the battery.
- If the pump appears to be running but there is no water in the pit, you risk burning up the pump. Call a plumber to help you sort this one out.
Even maintaining your pump will not make it last forever. Here are some hints as to whether you should replace your pump.
- Age. If your pump is more than 10 years old, it doesn’t owe you anything. Better to replace the pump a little early than wait until after you flood. The actual life of your pump can also be altered by frequency of use, the distance the pump has to carry water, the electrical source, and the quality of the pump.
- Listen. If your pump starts making strange noises such as thuds, rattling, grinding or gurgling, that could be a sign of trouble. You may be able to just replace the motor, or if the unit is old you would probably just want to replace the whole thing.
- Look. If there is water at the top of the pit, that’s a good sign the pump is gone.
- The battery on your back-up pump should be replaced every three to four years. An older battery may still hold a charge but the older the battery the less charge it can hold and therefore, the less run-time you have during a power outage.
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