In some parts of the country, people have no idea what a sump pump is—and they never really need to know. Their home may be in such a position that flooding is rather unlikely, and a sump pump—which pumps water out of a basement or crawlspace—would never get use.
However, where we live, sump pumps are common and often necessary. Spring temperatures thaw out the ground and may send water flooding into your home fast. Is your sump pump prepared for the work?
Home Sump Pump Maintenance
You can do a simple home test to check on the state of your sump pump. There are a few things you should check regularly, about once every few months, but more frequent checks become necessary in the spring. We recommend brief inspections after a storm, along with these steps every three months.
- Check that the pump is in good condition. Look for any obvious signs of wear and tear. Examples include any signs that the cord is fraying or is not plugged into a proper GFCI outlet. Look for cracks in the case and see that the pump is upright.
- Add water to the basin. Add enough water to fill the top of the pit. The pump should start up right away.
- Clean the screen or grate at the bottom of the pump. This may collect debris and require cleaning out from time to time.
- Check the drains. The drains that lead out of the basement may go to the sewer line or to your yard. If it’s the latter, check that drainage can move freely and that there is nothing blocking the opening.
When to Call in Professionals
There are some things you may be able to do on your own to get the sump pump into condition for the spring, such as propping it upright and securing it into place or clearing out the drain. However, you may need to call in a professional plumber, especially in these instances.
- You notice cracks along the sump pump cover or other signs of damage.
- The sump pump has shut down completely (and the circuit breaker does not reset it).
- Water does not move out quickly enough and clearing debris from the drain won’t help.
Don’t Have a Sump Pump?
In our part of the country, it’s a good idea for many homeowners. If you’ve recently purchased a new home, or if you plan to, ask around to find out if neighbors or the previous owner experienced issues with basement or crawlspace flooding. Check for signs of water damage in the basement, and take the right steps to protect your home if necessary.
You have two different options for installing a sump pump—submersible and pedestal pumps. Both types involve digging a hole in the lowest point of the basement and a drain that leads from the pump to the outdoors. A pedestal pump sits over the sump (the put) with a hose leading in, while a submersible pump has a waterproof encasement and is in the sump.
Both types have their advantages and disadvantages. A local plumber can help you choose the right sump pump for new installation or replacement.