Sump Pump Preventive Maintenance

crawfordmech April 11, 2023

A sump pump helps remove unwanted water from your basement or crawl space. It’s usually located in a specially designed pit known as a sump pit. The sump pit is dug in the lowest part of your basement.

Homeowners commonly use sump pumps to prevent water damage caused by flooding, heavy rain or snow melt. The device turns on automatically when water accumulates in the sump pit. After it collects, the pumped water goes to the nearest drainage system or away from your house. The sump pump prevents water from seeping into your basement or crawl space. 

Sump pumps differ based on their power source or how they are installed. Some of the different sump pumps you may see include the following:

  • Electricity sump pump
  • Battery sump pump
  • Submersible pump
  • Pedestal pump mounted above the pit

Each type of pump comes with its own unique features and benefits, depending on your specific needs.

Occasionally your sump pump will have issues that require repairs. Maintaining your sump pump is essential, as a damaged sump pump can lead to a flooded basement. We’ll discuss how to maintain your sump pump and when to call a professional for a sump pump replacement. 

Understand Your Pump

Sump pumps can be a lifesaver, providing peace of mind and protection from water damage. Regularly maintaining your sump pump helps ensure it remains in good condition. 

Knowing the different parts of a sump pump can help you understand how the device works. Once you know how it works, you can maintain it properly. Here are the critical components of a sump pump:

  • Sump pit: The sump pit is also known as the sump basin. You can find the small pit in basements, crawl spaces or low-lying areas where water can accumulate.
  • Check valve: The valve is located on the discharge pipe that carries water out of the sump pit. It prevents water from reentering the pumped sump pit.
  • Discharge pipe: This pipe carries the water pumped from the sump pit to a drainage system or away from home. It’s typically made of PVC. 
  • Float switch: When the water reaches a certain level, the sensor turns on the sump pump. It’s attached to the pump’s motor and activates the pump via an electric switch.
  • Impeller: This rotating part of the sump pump creates water flow and pumps the water out of the sump pit.
  • Motor: The motor powers the impeller to move water out of the sump pit. You can find the motor above the sump pit. Electricity or a backup power source such as a battery powers the impeller.
  • Housing: This outer casing covers the motor, impeller and other sump pump parts. The housing is designed to withstand corrosion, rust and other outdoor elements.

Regular maintenance can help ensure the sump pump performs when needed.

Clean Your Pump

Maintaining your sump pump is crucial in preventing water damage. Cleaning your sump pump is essential to its maintenance and a relatively simple process. Check your instruction manual before cleaning.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to cleaning your sump pump:

  1. Unplug the pump: Make sure you shut off the power supply to the unit to ensure your safety.
  2. Remove debris or dirt: Clear out all the accumulated dirt in the sump pit. Use a wet/dry vacuum or scoop to remove as much waste as possible.
  3. Disconnect the discharge pipe: Remove the pump from the pit once the pipe is disconnected.
  4. Clean the pump: Gently wipe it down with a damp cloth or sponge. Avoid using harsh chemicals that could damage the pump.
  5. Check the pump’s impeller: Then check the intake for any blockages. Clear them out with a small brush or toothbrush if there are any.
  6. Inspect the discharge pipe for clogs or debris: Remove clogs or blockages from the pipe. A great tool to use is a plumber’s snake.
  7. Check the power cord: Ensure it’s properly connected and not damaged. Also, check the float switch to ensure it’s functioning correctly.
  8. Reassemble the pump and discharge pipe: Make sure everything is adequately secured.
  9. Test the pump: You can test the pump by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. Watch the pump for a few minutes to ensure it pumps out the water properly.

If you notice any issues during the test, you should get the sump pump inspected and repaired by a professional plumber.

Test your sump pump every six months to ensure it functions correctly. Doing so helps ensure it is ready to handle any water intrusion, especially during the colder months. 

When to Contact a Professional

While maintaining and cleaning your sump pump is a crucial part of preventive maintenance, there are times when you need to contact a professional to fix your pump. Here are some signs to look out for that indicate it’s time to call in a professional:

1. You Hear Strange Noises

Sump pumps are designed to operate quietly. If you start hearing unusual noises like grinding, rattling or screeching, it could indicate something is wrong. Check for damaged parts such as the pump’s motor, impeller or bearings.

2. You Notice Increased Humidity or Damp Air

If you notice an increase in the humidity in your basement, it could be a sign that the sump pump isn’t functioning properly. Check if the water is draining as it should.

3. The Float Switch Is Malfunctioning 

If the pump fails to turn on automatically when water fills the sump pit, the float switch is likely malfunctioning. It is best to call a professional to diagnose and fix the issue.

4. You Spot Rust or Corrosion

Check if the sump pump is rusty or corroded. If you see any rust, it may have reached the end of its life span, meaning you’ll need a replacement.

5. You Notice a Burning Smell or See Smoke

If you smell a burning odor or see smoke from the sump pump, immediately unplug it or shut off the power. The burning odor could be a sign of an electrical issue that requires professional attention.

Whenever you notice anything unusual regarding your sump pump, it’s best to contact a professional plumber. A professional can diagnose and fix the problem before it becomes a bigger issue.

Get Your Sump Pump Repaired or Replaced

Regular maintenance and cleaning are crucial to ensuring your sump pump works correctly. But there are times when repairs require a professional plumber.

Hiring a professional plumber to fix your sump pump ensures the issue is correctly diagnosed and addressed. Crawford Mechanical Services has the necessary experience and knowledge to handle any sump pump repair. We can help whether you need a simple fix or a major pump overhaul.

Calling a professional will save you time and money in the long run and protect your home from water damage. If you need sump pump maintenance in the Columbus, Ohio, area, contact our team of experts

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