Sump Pump Maintenance
With spring here, you know we are in for some heavy rains. That means you will want your sump pump and your battery backup (which if you don’t have you really need to get as protection if there is a power failure) to be in good working order so you don’t wake up one morning to see your basement under water.
There are a few things you can do, and there are also some things you might want a plumber to do on an annual basis (and given we are now in the rainy season, now is a good time for that annual checkup).
What You Can Do
- Monitor the age of your pump and your battery backup. A sump pump should last about 10 years, a battery backup pump should last 15 years but the battery for the system should be replace every four years. If your pump, backup, or battery are approaching those ages, consider replacing them before they fail, and you are stuck with a flooded basement.
- If your sump pump is making unusual noises like thuds, rattling, grinding or gurgling, those could be indications there is a problem with the sump pump system that needs to be addressed.
- If you hear your sump pump running continuously, that needs to be checked also before the motor burns out.
- Monthly maintenance. For your regular sump pump, there are two ways you can check if your pump is working properly.
- Unplug the pump’s power cord as well as the switch that operates the float. Then plug in the cord connected to the pump. If it does not turn on, you have a problem that will require either repair or replacement. (This only works on systems with separate cords for the pump and switch. On those systems with one cord, gently lift the pump float.)
- Run water through the pump. Pour in enough water into the pump basin to raise the float, and the pump should turn on. If it does not activate, you may have a bad pump or switch.
For the battery, check and see if it is maintenance-free or if it requires you to pour some distilled water into the cells.
You should also have your sump pump and battery backup professionally inspected on an annual basis. This inspection should include:
- Ensuring that the pit is large enough for the sump pump to function properly
- Making sure there is a functioning check valve installed on the discharge pipe so that water does not flow back into the pit after the pump turns off
- Checking the battery backup (load and amp draws on the pump, charger, and battery)
- Testing the alarm, if the sump pump has one
- Ensuring the cover fits properly and does not interfere with pump operation or put stress on the piping.
- Checking to see if the discharge location is far enough away from the home to prevent water from draining back into it., and that the water does not drain onto other properties, into public sewers or into a septic system
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