Maintenance On Your Sump Pumps
To keep your basement dry during heavy rains, having a pump alone isn’t enough. You need to have a sump pump that functions. Just like every other system in your home, even a sump pump needs maintenance.
Most sump pumps are equipped with flood alarms or water alarms that alert you if the water levels begin to rise and your pump isn’t functioning. There are more sophisticated systems that alert your alarm company or give your phone a call in case of an emergency.
However, with a little bit of maintenance, you won’t need to worry about flooding. Spend a few minutes on maintaining your pump in early spring and whenever there is a forecast of heavy rains to ensure that your pump is functioning efficiently.
Maintenance of a Sump Pump
Checklist for Quarterly and Annual Sump Pump Maintenance
|1||Sump pump pit cleaning||Inspect inlet and outlet valves|
|2||Inspect check valve||Pump is in position|
|3||Clean pump weep hole||Wiring inspection|
|4||Clean impeller||Professional inspection|
|5||Check for odor from pump|
|6||Test the pump|
1. Cleaning Sump Pump
The most important step in maintaining your pump is to make sure that it is always clean. Disconnect the pump from the power supply and the backup power supply, if it has one.
Keep it in a place where you can access it. If you have a pedestal-type pump, you’ll find it easy to do this. But if you have a submersible sump pump, you’ll have to lift it out of the sump pump pit.
Clean the bottom of the pump and remove any dirt that is deposited there. Get the help of pump cleaners to ensure that you sump pump works well.
2. Clean Your Sump Pump Pit
Check if your sump pump basin is clean and free from debris. A lot of times, items like kid’s toys, leaves, garden tools, or other items stored around find their way to the pump pit.
These items sometimes enter the unit and disrupt the flow mechanism causing the system to fail. Take out any object that isn’t supposed to be in your sump pump pit.
Remove the excess water from the basin and clean the floor from the dirt or grime that has collected. If the pump isn’t sealed properly, over time this dirt can get into it. While cleaning the basin, don’t forget to check the container to ensure that all the seals are intact.
3. Inspect the Valves
A) Inlet and Outlet Valves
Follow this step occasionally. To check these valves, you’ll need an adjustable wrench to twist off the valves. After you take off the valves, clean them with an old toothbrush. This should remove any sediment that may have settled inside.
Once you have reattached the valves, check them for leaks. In case the valve stems are leaking, you can fix them instantly by sticking plumber’s Teflon tape on the threaded side. If the leak persists, you’ll need to replace the leaky seals with new ones.
B) Check Valve
Sometimes, the pump’s check valve isn’t installed right. Make sure that the check valve’s arrow is pointing towards the sump pump. If it isn’t, the water will flow back into the pump once it’s turned off.
4. Clean the Weep Hole
This needs to be done every 3-4 months. Certain pumps have weep holes that are usually located between the check valve and the sump pump. Use a toothpick to clean it and take precaution so that the toothpick doesn’t break inside.
5. Clean the Impeller
The pump has a small filter known as the impeller that gets clogged very often. If the pump stops working all of a sudden, or you hear a whining sound from it, a blocked impeller is most likely to be the cause. Give it a good cleaning and it will work like new. Make sure you clean this every 3-4 months to avoid this problem.
6. Components Check
Check whether the drain hose is connected and make sure that it isn’t blocked or frozen.
7. Keep it Afloat
The float of the pump controls the on and off switch. The vibrations from the motor or the force of the water sometimes cause the pump to shift position or tilt. This may shift the float out of its place. So make sure that the pump is level and upright.
8. Flow Strategically
The water being pumped out should be directed away from the house. Make sure that the water pumped out isn’t flowing back into the sump pump pit.
9. Smell for a Sump Pump Odor
If you don’t maintain your sump regularly, it may start releasing an unpleasant odor. The pump trap is usually the cause of this odor. In the dry seasons, when the water doesn’t flow into the basin, this odor usually stems up.
It isn’t difficult to get rid of this smell, pour bleach-water into the basin. Mix 5 parts water and one part bleach for a good concoction.
You could also pour buckets of water into the sump pump pit until the odor is gone. Pouring bleach-water is definitely the better option as it will kill the bacteria and germs causing the stench.
10. Run a Test
Learn how to test a sump pump. Test the pump regularly. You could make a small sign and keep it in your basement as a reminder to test the pump. All you need to do to test the pump is to put it on every once in a while.
The pump should start pumping out any water that is in the pump pit. If the sump pump pit is empty, pour a bucket of water into the drain and test it again. In case the pump doesn’t work, you will need to call a professional to check it out.
11. Check for Power and Install Backup Power
Check whether the power cord is connected to the power supply. Quite often homeowners complain about their sump pumps malfunctioning after a storm has left them powerless for a few days.
Power outages usually cause sump pumps to stop working and this, in turn, causes flooding of the basement.
Installing a backup power source like a battery is always advisable because the pump can pump out all the water even when the power is out. This is a precautionary step to make sure that your basement stays dry even when there’s a storm.
12. Yearly Tune-up
Despite all the efforts that you put in towards maintenance, you must get the pump serviced once a year. During the service, you need to ensure that all the parts inside the motor are lubricated well. You also need to make sure that the electrical connections are intact and connected with wire nuts. If the electrical connections get damaged or frayed, you will have to get the wires re-stripped and reconnect them with shielded wire nuts.
How to Prevent Common Sump Pump Problems
The most common sump pump problem is caused because of a power outage. In this situation, having a back power supply will help you. But if it is a problem with the pump, then having a battery wouldn’t help.
1. Float Problems
The vibrations from the pump or the force of the water sometimes shift the position of the pump. As the pump’s float controls the on/off switch, the pump may stop working. All you need to do is, adjust the position of the pump.
2. Incorrect Sizing
If there is a mismatch in the pump’s requirement and the volume, it could lead to problems. If the pump is too small for the amount of water that is needed to be pumped out, it won’t be able to adequately pump out the water.
While if the pump is too big for the volume of water that it is required to pump out, it can overwork itself. Make sure that the size of your sump pump is right for the amount of water it is required to pump out.
The sump pump’s pit should not be made of gravel as this can enter the pump and cause mechanical problems to the float. To maintain the pump properly and avoid water damage, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines.
4. Frozen/Clogged Discharge Lines
The pump system will stop working if the water cannot exit through the discharge lines. It is essential to keep your discharge lines free from clogging and to also protect it from freezing. By protecting the discharge pipe’s exit point, you can keep debris and animals out of the system and prevent damage to your pump.
Grated coverings do not prevent lines from freezing or getting blocked by ice. You will need to use a special grated discharge line attachment that is placed near your home on the discharge line. This ensures that the discharge flow is not prevented by ice or snow. This includes openings that provide a way for the water to flow out of the pipe, even if it is blocked further down.