A sump pump is a kind of pump that is used to remove water that is gathered into a sump basin. Sump Pumps are usually found in the basement of a home. There are a few ways the water can enter the sump pump: by funneling into the pump through the designated perimeter drains in a basement’s waterproofing system, or by gravity, 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. The main purpose of a sump pump is to pump and send water away from the house to a place where it can do less damage — like in a city storm drain.
Maintaining Your Sump Pump
Sump pumps are usually hard wired directly into the electrical system of a home. However, 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 extremely important 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 any extended period of time.
Sump Pump Mistakes
Of course, that isn’t the only mistake that could potentially happen when dealing with a sump pump. Keep reading for some of the most common mistakes that happen with sump pumps — and how to avoid them.
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. 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. You should also consider landscape solutions prevent puddling and flooding.
Mistake #2: Problems with the float switch.
A float 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 freely 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: Did you check the check valve?
A sump pump’s check valve creates a barrier preventing 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.
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 which rain water may enter the pump) until the float triggers your pump to activate. Next, you should 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: 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. What’s the take away here? Always inspect your discharge pipes, whether they stick out from your house or if you have an underground system.
Mistake #6: Someone unplugged your pump.
It happens more than you’d think. Someone goes down into the basement and needs an electrical outlet for something. In order to plug up said item, they 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 backup. Or, better yet, never unplug it.
Mistake #7: Not checking for loose wiring.
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 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.
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?
At Toledo Basement Repair, we know leaky basements and everything that causes them. We offer a wide range of basement flooding services, including sump pump repairs.
If you have any questions, or if you think there are issues with your existing sump pump, feel free to contact our team. We’d love to help.