If you don’t know already, a sump pump can save your home a lot of hassle. If your home has a sump pit or basin, this small piece of equipment pumps out water that fills in the pit and carries it away from the home through pipes so it can drain safely. It might not sound like much, but it has probably saved you from a flooded basement or mildew on more than one occasion.
If you’ve ever sustained any kind of water damage, you’ll know how expensive it can be and how long it can take before everything is resolved. Your sump pump keeps you from having to deal with those frustrations.
Because this is an item not usually highlighted in homeownership information, many homeowners have questions about their sump pump, and we want to help answer them.
Why would I have a sump pump?
Typically because the foundation drain is too deep to drain via gravity to the storm sewer. If it can’t drain properly, it can overflow and cause damage to the home.
How does a sump pump work?
Every sump pump has a sensor called a float. When your pump is installed, the sensor is set to a specific height. Then when the water in your sump pit reaches that height, the pump activates and carries the water away through a discharge pipe where it can drain safely away from your home’s foundation into the higher sewer.
What should I consider when purchasing a sump pump?
First and foremost, consult an expert. They can help you determine the best pump type and size for your property. You’ll also want to consider:
- Horsepower based on the likelihood of your home flooding. If your property sits in a high-flood area, you will want something greater than ⅓ HP.
- How high the pump should raise the water (this is referred to as head pressure)
- The voltage you want, depending on whether you need a standard residential pump or a higher voltage industrial one
- Cord length to reach the outlet as you never want to use an extension cord as a permanent solution.
- If you prefer to have a battery backup and alert system in case the pump fails.
Does that mean the pump can fail?
Failure does happen on occasion due to a few different factors:
- Power outages, which we’re not unfamiliar with in the Greater Cleveland area (so you may wish to consider a battery backup option or water back up option.)
- If the float valve becomes stuck or damaged
- If the motor or impeller breaks
- The drainage pipe may be clogged or frozen
- Or if the water is coming in faster than the pump can expel it.
- If one or more of these are a concern for your home, you’ll want to weigh the option of purchasing a backup sump pump such as a battery powered option.
Does a sump pump require maintenance from the homeowner?
Sump pumps are a reliable piece of equipment, but just like any other appliance in your home, regular maintenance is always advised. But it doesn’t have to be often or take long. Just take a few minutes each season, particularly when heavy rains are common such as in early spring and late fall, to make sure your pump is up to par. There are a few basic tasks you can do:
- Make sure the outlet that powers the pump is working and that the cord hasn’t sustained any damage.
- Is the pump upright? The vibrations from the motor can oftentimes cause it to fall over which may disable the float, leaving it incapable of starting up if the basin begins to fill.
- If you are able, remove the pump from the pit and clear away any debris from the bottom grate. The suction the pump creations can pull in small stones and other runoff which can mar the equipment over time.
- Lift the float switch to activate the pump. If it doesn’t start up, contact a professional to service it.
- If there is no damage and it does activate, ensure that the water is properly draining away from your foundation. If it’s not, check to make sure the pipes are joined correctly and not loose.
Do you have any other tips?
Sometimes water can come in faster than it can be pushed out. If you don’t already have one, get an alarm sensor that will alert you if the water level rises too high.
As we mentioned above, Northeast Ohio is prone to power outages from heavy rain, wind storms, and snow. Because most sump pumps run on electricity, they will not operate during an outage, which is bad news in thunderstorms and downpours. Look into a battery or water backup options, generators so you don’t end up with a flooded basement during one of these times. Most importantly make sure you have the right insurance.
Perform basic maintenance on your pump every season. If something doesn’t work quite right, contact a professional right away. You don’t want to put it off and then get caught in a storm without a functional sump pump.
Have an annual inspection. A professional can review things a homeowner won’t be able to such as:
- Cleaning the pit
- A properly functioning check valve on the discharge pipe
- Whether or not the backup power source is working correctly and if it needs to be replaced
- If the alarm is operating suitably
- Determine if the pump is recirculating or not.
If you have any other questions regarding your home’s sump pump system, need a specialist to repair it, or need to replace your old one, Killeen Plumbing is more than happy to help you protect your home. Reach out to us on our contact page, or give us a call at 440-871-1112.