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Home Maintenance

4 Things You Need to Know About Your Sump Pump Before the Spring Thaw

4 Things You Need to Know About Your Sump Pump Before the Spring Thaw

When winter begins to come to an end and the first signs of spring are showing, the last thing on your mind is your sump pump. But between planning your summer garden and upcoming days at the beach, it’s important to give a little thought and time to this vital part of your home.

Tucked away in your basement, your sump pump might be out of sight and out of mind, but this often-ignored piece of equipment works hard year-round to keep water out of your home and prevent flooding and costly damages. With spring comes rain and thaw, and it’s likely your sump pump will be working overtime. Here are four things you need to know about your sump pump to ensure both you and it are prepared for the wet spring weather.

1: It Needs Maintenance

Just like all the equipment in your home, your sump pump needs regular maintenance to ensure it’s in good working order and to help keep it running smoothly. On an annual basis, give your sump pump a full cleaning and inspection. Remove the pump from its basin and clean the pump and the pit. Remove any dirt, gravel or debris. Make sure that the discharge line for your pump is unobstructed, is far enough from your foundation, and not likely to freeze or suffer other damage. Be sure to check your owner’s manual for recommended maintenance procedures and keep an eye out for signs that your sump pump may need more attention or maintenance, perhaps even the need to call in a professional. If your sump pump shows any of the follow signs, it may need further maintenance:

  • Makes strange or excessive noise
  • Excessive vibrating when running, which indicates a damaged impeller, likely to cause additional damage to the shaft
  • Runs all the time or irregular cycling, which may indicate a problem with the float or switch
  • Motor sticks
  • Has visible rust
  • Runs for a long time to clear water, indicating it doesn’t have enough power

2: It Needs to be Tested

You should test your sump pump every four to six months. A good time to do this testing is before the change of seasons. This testing is easily done and takes only a few minutes. Pour a bucket of water into your pit until the pump starts running. The pump should quickly and easily remove the water and turn itself off when it’s done. Watch to ensure the check valve and float are moving freely.

3: It Needs Some Back Up

The most common reason a sump pump fails to keep your basement dry during a storm is due to power failure. You can reduce the chances of this occurring by equipping your sump pump with a battery backup. A battery backup is a good idea for any sump pump, but if you have a finished basement or live in an area that often experiences frequent or extended power outages, then it’s an absolute must.

Most sump pumps are tied into a home electrical system, so when the power goes out to your home, it needs another source of power to run the pump. Marine batteries are recommended as they can provide up to 12 hours of power to your running pump.

In addition to your battery back up, your sump pump should be equipped with an alarm. Some alarms will alert you when your sump pump is running, but what you really need to know is when it’s not. Make sure your pump has a working alarm that lets you know when the water in the tank is reaching higher than expected levels, which means it’s not moving water out quickly enough or at all. Knowing when your sump pump isn’t working is invaluable, and this alarm system is well worth the investment.

4: It Needs to be Replaced

Like all equipment in your home, your sump pump has a life span and will eventually need to be replaced. There is no hard and fast rule for when your sump pump should be replaced. While some say you can expect your sump pump to last about ten years, it will vary depending on use, maintenance and other factors. Best practice is to regularly test and maintain your sump pump to extend its life and look for signs that it is coming to the end of its usefulness.

Your sump pump might soon need to be replaced if it requires more regular checking and attention, and if it meets any of the following criteria:

  • Seven years old or older
  • Has frequent power outages
  • Is infrequently used
  • Is constantly used

If a rainstorm hits and your sump pump fails, your basement can take in hundreds of gallons of water in just minutes and this water can cause significant and costly damage in no time at all. From electrical services to furnaces, flooring and furnishings, a flood will wreck, ruin and destroy whatever’s in its path. Protect your basement and your wallet from these floods by properly maintaining, testing and monitoring your sump pump.



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