Sump Pump Maintenance
Is It Time? More Info on Maintenance?
Time For Maintenance ?
Protect Your Downingtown Home and Basement
maintain your sump pump
Many Downingtown homeowners rely on sump pumps and French drains to keep water out of their basement in the event of a storm. Without proper maintenance and care, your sump pump could fail when you need it most. Simple, scheduled maintenance can save you the cost of cleaning up a flooded basement, and protect your stored items, furniture and other personal belongings in your [city] basement.
a few tips to keep your sump pump in good condition
- Test your sump pump. Test sump pumps at least annually (twice for those over 5 years). Check early spring (or when clocks change if twice a year) to ensure they are functioning correctly. Pour a bucket or two of water in the pump well; if it doesn’t turn on the float, and evacuate the water, it’s likely broken or the discharge line could be clogged. Identify where the problem is. Check power, insure the unit is plugged in and the power is on. If all are good, and your pump is still not working, contact Sump Pump Gurus for assistance.
- Clean the pump. Remove your pump’s lid, a tight fitting one is preferred & check inside. Uninstall the pump, check valve, and remove any dirt, sand, gravel or other debris from the basin. Most importantly, be sure that the float has room to move freely. A stuck float in the on or off position can be a huge problem. Check the incoming drainage lines (French drains), if present, for blockages. If clogged, you may need to get a plumbing snake to clear or it can be difficult for water to channel into the sump pit. French Drains work on gravity, so any material in the way can prevent water movement.
- Check for worn parts. A sump pump’s moving parts can wear out over time preventing the pump from operating, or shutting off. The float switch is the most common part to fail, along with the impeller. If either of these items are creating issues, and the pump is newer than 5 years, these should be replaced. If more that 5 years old, the cost of materials and labor can justify a replacement. If you are a DIY’er, the parts will run you about $95-$125 and a couple hours of your time.
- Install a battery backup. A battery backup provides power to your pump or a special backup pump that runs on DC (marine battery) when there is no power, when your pump fails or when the pit is overwhelmed in a big storm. If you have battery backup, you should test the battery by unplugging the pump and filling the pit with water. Make sure the battery charging system is operating properly and the battery is holding a charge. A volt meter will do the trick.
Signs Your Pump Could Be Failing
Your sump pump will usually let you know if it needs to be repaired or replaced. Give us a buzz if you encounter any of these signs:
- Aging. We recommend that you replace an average-use sump pump every 7-10 years. If your home receives a lot of water or if your pump runs frequently, its lifespan can be shortened to 5-7 years. Always remember, replacement is cheaper than cleaning up after a flood.
- Odors. If rotten vegetable or moldy smells are coming from your sump pit, your sump pump may be malfunctioning or may need an adjustment to insure there is no stagnant water. A thorough flushing with an OXI cleaner or bleach may do the job as well. Whenever applying chemicals to a pump or pit, be sure to rinse everything very well when complete.
- Rust. Older pumps were not always made with rust-resistant materials. Many of the big box store pumps are difficult to clean and have small parts that tend to rust. If you have a pump with rust that can’t be scrubbed away, it should probably be replaced or the rusted part needs to be repaired (lower quality pumps don’t necessarily have replacement parts). Rust can also be a sign of Iron Ochre, a red slime caused by iron eating bacteria in the soil. If present you should check your pump at least quarterly and treat for control.
- Noises. Sump pumps shouldn’t make loud noises. Quality pumps will run relatively quietly and smoothly when turning on and off. If your pump is making unusual noises, like loud humming, clanging or banging, a replacement may be in order.
- Water. The most noticeable sign your sump pump needs repair or replacement is the presence of water in your basement or the pit not emptying. If there is water in your basement near the pump, it isn’t doing its job. If the water is in another section of the basement, you may require French Drains to help move the water to the pit where it can be evacuated.
Keep Yourself Covered - Check Your Home Owners Policy
Even if you perform routine maintenance, pumps are mechanical, and can potentially fail for multiple reasons, potentially causing thousands of dollars of damage. Contact your home owners insurance for a quick review. Basic home coverage doesn’t always cover pump fails. Most insurers offer sump pump riders to your existing policy to protect your assets in case of a failed sump pump.