The sump pump acts as a protective barrier between the foundation of your house and the water from the municipal sewage system. The groundwater in the foundation is rerouted into a drain system (which is also located at the foundation), goes through a system of pipes, and finally reaches the sump pit typically located at the lowest point of the home. After being triggered by a switch, a sump pump removes the surplus water by pumping it into the closest storm drain, detention pond, or dry well. The sump pump is a vital part of your plumbing system, so it is a good idea to check it regularly.
HOW SUMP PUMPS ARE INSTALLED
There are two ways to install a sump pump: either hard-wiring it into the house’s electrical system or simply plugging it into an electrical outlet. Most sump pumps have a battery system that acts as a backup in case the power goes down.
The backup battery is especially important in times of heavy rain when you will need the sump pump the most to pump the excess water away from your home. Furthermore, another common culprit of defective sump pumps is the lack of a proper pressure switch, which could also lead to basement disasters. If you want more info on sump pump pressure switch, types of switches, and the best method to replace a sump pump switch, read through the linked article for a clearer idea.
As for maintenance, here are three useful sump pump maintenance tips:
1. Inspect the Sump Pump Regularly
The first thing you need to do is check the sump pump for any debris or objects that might affect its functionality. For instance, if the water presents any traces of oil, this might be happening because the device is releasing coolant. In this case, you will need to replace the sump pump as soon as possible. Unplug the pump, and if the device looks salvageable, try to clean it of any debris. Rinse and repeat with the impeller.
2. Test the Sump Pump
Once you are done with cleaning, plug the pump back in, and see if it works correctly. Most sump pumps are equipped with a ‘’test’’ button. Press it and observe if there are still any oil discharges.
Side note: if the sump pump is powered by a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (or GFCI outlet, as it is widely known), you should make sure it is fully operational before doing any tests. Keep in mind that only the newer ones will alert you in case their circuitry goes haywire, while older ones will not. The latter require a specialized device, so pressing the ‘’test’’ button will not do anything. Furthermore, if you see any exposed connections or half destroyed wires, you should call an electrician.
Next, you should fill the pit with a few gallons of water (as an indicator, stop pouring water when it reaches the switch). If you pour water until the float rises and the pump does not automatically activate, disconnect the unit and check the discharge pipe, as there might be a blockage preventing the sump pump from functioning properly. If this is the case, you might have to disconnect the pipe from the sump pump and clear the pipes either by running high-pressure water or by using a snake or a sewer rodder.
3. Get a Backup Sump Pump
Another great way of maintaining both your sump pump and overall plumbing infrastructure is by installing a separate, backup sump pump. Backup sump pumps share many similarities with regular ones – they are powered either by battery or water and function in the same way. Backup sump pumps will take some of the load off the main ones, which will help you save water during winter months.
Furthermore, similar to a regular sump pump, you have to inspect and test the backup one accordingly. If you have a sump pump that is powered by water, before doing any tests, ensure that the supply valve is opened. On the other hand, if you have a sump pump powered by battery, you need to check the water level is appropriate. As a rule of thumb, the fill line should be located at approximately ½- 2 inches at most from the top of the case.
Like in the case of the primary sump pump, you will have to cut the backup pump’s power supply and check both the impeller and the intake. Check for any blockages, debris, or vermin that might prevent the device from functioning properly. As soon as you finish the inspection, shut down the primary pump, fill the pit and follow the steps highlighted in the second entry of this article. Next, plug the primary sump pump back and you are good to go.
The sump pump is a vital component of the plumbing infrastructure because it acts as a barrier between your foundation and the city sewer system.
-Written by guest contributor, Vincent West-
Follow him at ThePlumbingInfo.com