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how to check your sump pump

Want to Avert Sump Pump Failure? Maintain Yours Regularly

When floodwaters collect in the basement – due to a burst pipe or torrential rainfall – a functional sump pump is the only thing that can prevent basement flooding and water damage. Sadly, these devices can break down or malfunction like other appliances around the home. 

In this post, we shall look at common sump pump problems in Columbia, SC, and share handy maintenance tips so you can keep yours operational 365 days a year. 

Common Sump Pump Issues 

Here’s how you’ll know whether your sump pump is defective: 

Sump pit refills and the pump comes on – Anytime you turn off the pump, water shouldn’t flow back to the basin. The check valve stops the backflow on the discharge line. If the valve is faulty, it will let water flow back, and this will actuate your sump pump. And the cycle will continue until you fix the valve. 

Sump basin fills, but the pump doesn’t actuate – Your pump requires roughly five gallons of water to come on. If the basin has water, but the pump won’t start, the problem might be a defective float switch or motor. 

Basin is empty, but pump actuates – Once the basin is empty, the sump pump should turn off automatically. If it continues running while the basin is empty, it could only mean one thing: Your float switch has a problem. Ask your waterproofing contractor to come and resolve the issue. 

What Causes the Sump Pump to Fail?

A lot of issues can be tied back to electrical faults and mechanical issues. Other than a blockage, they account for most cases of sump pump failures. 

When water enters the sump pump and fills the basin, the float ball should rise to a certain height and trigger the switch. Sometimes, debris gets entangled around the ball, holding it down. Electrical faults can also stop the switch from turning on the sump pump. 

Sump pumps eject water outside via the discharge line that extends out. If this pipe gets clogged by leaves or twigs, water won’t flow outward. The discharge line can also block during cold winter weather when water freezes inside it. In both cases, water will flow back to the sump pit. 

Improper sizing is something else that can render your pump ineffective. A small sump pump may not have the capacity to handle a surge in floodwater. Because water enters the basin faster than it’s ejected, the basement will flood.

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips 

Like any mechanical device, the sump pump can wear out. Periodic checks will alert you of failing parts before they start causing problems. When troubleshooting, always refer to the guidelines on the manufacturer’s manual. 

Start by inspecting the electrical components (at least once in a year). A visual inspection will reveal problems such as tears and worn cable surfaces. Ensure your pump is connected to a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) as it will break the circuit if it gets overloaded. 

Whenever there’s a storm in Columbia, SC, check whether the sump pump aligns with your floor so water can’t come out. Vibrations can cause the pump to shift out of position. Fill up the sump basin with water, then turn on the sump pump. If the pump actuates, it’s in good condition. But if it doesn’t, call your local contractor to fix it. 

Cleaning is also a key part of sump pump maintenance, and it helps prevent blockage. Do it every three to four months or just before the start of a new season. Pay attention to the filters. You may have to replace it if it’s damaged.

Additional tips: 

  • Ensure the vent hole in the discharge is clear. 
  • Get a tank lever arm that prompts you when the sump pump stalls. 
  • Replace worn out or faulty parts immediately when you notice them. 
  • Make sure the discharge line extends at least 20 feet. 
  • Clean the gate of the check valve. 
  • Readjust the discharge piping and pump. 
  • Tighten the fasteners and replace keys. 
  • Fix any loose/faulty cables, as they could interfere with your pump. 
  • Listen to how the motor is running. 

If your sump pump starts acting up but you can’t pinpoint the problem, contact your local basement waterproofing professionals at Mount Valley Foundation Services for help. We provide free waterproofing and sump pump inspections and repair quotes, plus lasting fixes for waterproofing needs.