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Whether from a backed-up sewer line, a leaky water heater, or a local creek that overran its banks, water in your basement can do significant damage to your property. Fortunately, your home’s sump pump is designed to keep the area dry and prevent flooding. However, its efficiency is reliant on how well you maintain it. Plus, regular inspections and maintenance are keys to ensuring the plumbing system has a long operating life.

What Is A Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a device that’s installed in a sump pit at the lowest point of a home. Its job is to collect groundwater in a basin and pump it away from the basement floor – into a nearby area with natural drainage or a storm drain. Sump pumps are typically ‘hard wired’ into the electrical system; however, some models come with a separate battery backup system. They’re the ideal ‘staple’ device for homeowners, as they can evacuate hundreds of gallons of water during the rainy season and flood-related events.

A sump pump’s main component is the pump float. The pump float activates the pump when it detects rising water levels. The pump then removes standing water through a chain of pipes to a discharge area situated at a distance from the structure’s foundation.

What Are the Different Types of Sump Pumps?

There are two main types of sump pumps:

Pedestal pumps

These pumps sit on a pedestal, which prevents the device from getting wet. A connecting hose extending into the sump reservoir gets pumped up and out of the basement. As the pump sits above the pit, pedestal pumps typically cost less and are easier to maintain than submersible pumps. However, they can be very noisy, so they might not be the best option for certain homes (like ones with finished basements).

Submersible pumps

Submersible pumps are a quieter option as they sit below the waterline (in the actual sump basin). They are water-sealed to prevent any damage if the motor gets submerged. Motors in this sump pump model are durable and better able to handle torrential floods. During heavy use, the motor relies on the water to keep it cool, eliminating the risk of overheating. That said, their location makes them difficult to access for maintenance and adds a lot of wear and tear to the device.

How Do I Maintain a Sump Pump?

A properly maintained sump pump can mean the difference between an expensive flooding incident and a dry basement. Here are some tips to help keep your device in good condition.

  • Check the motor: The sump pump’s motor needs to be checked occasionally by lifting the cover and pulling up the float. If the motor doesn’t spring into action immediately, make sure it’s plugged in and getting power.
  • Inspect for worn parts: Moving parts like the floating switch can wear out over time. Inspect these components to see whether you need to do a replacement. Various manufacturers recommend installing a new float every 18 months.
  • Test the pump: Test the sump pump annually to ensure it will function when you need it. You can do this by pouring a bucket of water gradually into the unit. The device should activate after the water rises to the predetermined level. If it doesn’t, you may be dealing with a clogged or broken sump pump.
  • Clean the weep hole: If your sump pump has a weep hole (present between the pump and check value), make sure it doesn’t get clogged with debris. Use a toothpick to clear away any debris, but make sure it doesn’t break.
  • Check the pump discharge pipe: Check the pump discharge pipe’s condition and ensure it’s not blocked by vegetation or dirt. Plus, make sure it’s draining fully and doesn’t have residual water that might freeze in winter, obstructing smooth flow or rupturing the pipe.
  • Lubricate the bearings: Check the pump’s manual to see if you need to lubricate the bearings. If so, use the recommended grease or oil.
  • Get a backup battery: This will help ensure the pump won’t fail in the event of a power outage. Also, make sure to replace the core batteries every two to three years.
  • Test the alarm: Although not every sump pump has an alarm that goes off when the unit is activated, the pumps with one help alert homeowners about water building in the pit. If your sump pump has an alarm, test it to ensure that it will function properly.
  • Check for loose wires: First, switch off the power to the pump (at the source). Now disconnect the pump and inspect it for any loose wires. Replace any wires you find before installing and restoring power to the pump again.
  • Remove the hose during winters: For outdoor sump pumps, remove the extension house when the temperature drops below freezing. If the hose gets clogged with ice, simply remove water from the pit and let it thaw. Once the hose is unclogged, make sure to connect it to a sump pump properly. It might be a good idea to use a pipe clamp to ensure it is securely fastened.

Sump Pump Not Working? Don’t Sweat

If you find a problem in your sump pump, try resolving the issue during maintenance. But if the pump still fails to work, you may need to get a replacement. Failed sump pumps are often associated with water buildup, so you’ll need to do some cleaning. If the water comes from a flood, you can contact Utah clean up specialists to remove water and clean up after the event.

The Disaster Company offers full-service water damage restoration to help your business or home return to its pre-flooding state. Our team is available 24/7 and can assist with emergency water extraction required for many flooded basements. They will use special equipment to remove standing water from your home before starting the drying process. So, if you’re dealing with a wet basement and your sump pump has stopped working, give us a call to remove excess water.