Sump pumps are your first line of defense to keep water out of your basement. They also protect your foundations and the structural integrity of your house.
You will need it most in early spring when there is a lot of snow melting or in the summer when there are some heavy rains. It is going to be called upon more so them, so you should check the operation before it is too late. By the time you look to call on the pump it might not have run for some time. So you need to plan ahead and ensure your pump will run when needed and not have you arriving home to a flooded basement.
Sump pump maintenance will take no more than around 10 minutes to complete and you will need to check the operation of your sump pump and ensure it is there for you whenever you need it.
Tips for sump pump maintenance
Keep a cover over the sump basin.
• This will keep out animals and children as well as ensuring you do not have any debris falling into the basin.
• A cover will also reduce the smells and evaporation
Inspect for debris
Inspect the basin/sump for any debris and remove any you might find before operating the pump. We do not want this to get into the sump pump intakes or even block the pump. So,always ensure you remove the debris first before you test the pump.
Check pump screens/ Inlet screens
Check the inlet screens on your pump are free from debris and residue build up, as if they are blocked up this will reduce the operational efficiency of your sump pump.Therefore this will reduce the volume of water the pump removes which will be a lot less than it is designed to pump. If needed bring a hose and wash down the external of the sump pump as well as the basin to remove all debris that may affect the operation of the pump.
Electricity and safety
As there is electricity and water within the same installation you should ensure you are electrically protected using a ground fault indicator (GFI). This should keep you safe as it should trip the electricity if there is a fault. Check the operation of this if there is a test facility to do so.
Check for correct cable routing as well as the cable being in good condition. Make sure the cable is away from the water as much as possible. Also check the cable is secured and not loose and in a situation where it might fall into the sump. This could prove lethal and have happened in some rare circumstances. So check the cable is fixed and secure.
Check your discharge pipes
Always have a check valve fitted, this is to stop the pumped water within the discharge pumped line from returning into the sump and refilling the sump once pumped away. It only allows the water to move in one direction, which of course is out of your sump. If this is faulty you will see your sump re-filling and your pump will run more frequently.
Check the discharge line for leaks or damage. Make sure all is intact including the end of your pumping line. If you are able to visually see the pumped line ensure the end is free to allow the pumped water to properly run clear.
Water test your pump
Fill the sump with water very slowly and observe the operation of the sump pump. This way you can watch the operation of the float switch, ensure it rises with the water level and moves easily and freely.
Check the operation of the float switch
Once the float rises to the switch on point you want to observe the sump pump running. You should of course listen to the pump as well. What you are listening for in this case is the connection of the float switch and that the switch makes without any hesitation or resistance and runs the pump properly. As the float switch is considered one of the weak points of a sump pump you can observe this in this test and ensure your switch operates normally. If the switch is intermittent or not operating normally you may be able to replace the switch and not need to buy a replacement sump pump.
Listen to the pump
Now the pump is running you want to listen to the pump itself running. Make sure there are no squealing or grinding noises or even metal on metal. With the sump pump running there should be some minor vibrations, if there are excessive vibrations then you must investigate this. Excessive vibration or noises may indicate the bearings or internal workings of the pump may be wearing out. In cases like this it might be best to have a replacement sump pump near hand in case you have to replace a pump in a hurry.
Operate the pump several times
Operate the pump like this several times just to get the pump operating efficiently and also check that the sump pump also stops pumping whenever the water level is pumped down to a suitable level and the switch has returned to a resting position. In general what you are doing is checking complete cycles of the sump pump to check it is working as it should do when it might be needed.
Check Valve operation
Listen for the check valve click as well within this operation sequence; you want to hear the check valve operating as the pump stops pumping. The check valve should close with a click and stop the water from returning into the sump.
Points to consider for the maintenance of your sump pump and pump installation
• Keep a cover over the sump basin.
• Inspect for debris
• Check pump screens/ Inlet screens
• Electricity and safety
• Cable routing
• Check your discharge pipes
• Water test your pump
• Check the operation of the float switch
• Listen to the pump
• Operate the pump several times
• Check Valve operation
• Replace all covers and parts
Once you are happy with the operation of your sump pump and you have checked everything over you needs to ensure you replace all parts and covers into their correct location for the operation of the pump. You should also periodically check in on your sump pump just to ensure it will be there for you whenever needed.