If you have a basement, a sump pump is an invaluable tool for keeping it dry. A sump pump system collects water into a sump basin in the basement and then pumps it out away from the home. By carrying water away from the basement, sump pumps prevent flooding by moving the water somewhere it won’t damage the home. Sump pumps are typically wired directly into a home’s electrical system, often with a battery backup to prevent power loss. As long as a sump pump is continuously powered and properly maintained, it should work well for you when you need it. However, it’s important to avoid making these common mistakes.
- Allowing the sump pump to suck in debris. If your sump pump sits on loose silt or small gravel, it can easily suck something up into the pump, which can ruin your pump’s motor. To prevent this from happening, use rocks or gravel bigger than a dime to keep your sump pump lines from clogging.
- Crowding the float switch. A float switch needs to freely float and sink, so that it can let your sump pump motor know when the water is too low for it to continue running. If there’s not enough space around the float and switch for the arm to move freely, this can cause a malfunction and burn out the motor. Give your float switch room and make sure it’s unobstructed.
- Ignoring the check valve. The check valve creates a barrier to prevent water from backing up into the pump. Look at the check valve and make sure the arrow printed on it points away from the sump pump because that’s the direction the water will flow.
- Failing to inspect the sump pump system regularly. At least once a year, test your system to make sure it’s working the way it should, not running constantly or failing to turn on when needed. To test it, fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and slowly pour the water into the sump pit until the float triggers the pump to turn on the motor. The water level should slowly drop and the pump should shut off when the float drops below the shutoff level. If the system isn’t working properly, you may need to repair or replace your pump.
- Not checking the discharge pipe. If your discharge pipe breaks, the basement will flood. Unfortunately, a break can occur underground where it’s impossible to see. Inspect the discharge pipes as much as possible, or have them inspected by a professional, to prevent this from happening.
- Unplugging the pump. If someone accidentally unplugs your sump pump and forgets to plug it back in, your sump pump will be of no use in a storm. If you ever unplug your sump pump, be extremely careful to make sure you’ve plugged it back in once you’re done. An even better idea is to never unplug your sump pump in the first place.
- Not inspecting the wiring. Loose wiring in your system can cause your sump pump to stop suddenly. It’s a simple fix to get it back into working order, but you have to know what’s wrong first. Keep an eye on your sump pump’s wiring as part of your regular system maintenance. When you check the wiring, make sure you disconnect the power to the pump at the source, disconnect the pump, look for loose wires, replace any that you find, then reinstall the pump and make sure it’s working.
- Ignoring the sound of the pump. If you hear the sound of the motor and the pump running, check the outside pump to make sure water is coming out of it. If the water isn’t flowing, do some troubleshooting to see if there’s a blocked water pipe, the check valve is stuck, or there’s something else going on that requires the help of professionals.
- Not calling for help when you need it. If your sump pump isn’t working and you can’t determine the cause, it’s time to call for expert help. When you stay on top of your sump pump maintenance, you’ll know exactly when to call the people who will know exactly what to do.
No matter what your sump pump requires, trust Reliable Basement Services to make the process hassle-free. A family-owned and operated company, we’ve served the greater Chicago area for over a decade. We offer a full spectrum of basement services including crack repairs, sump pump systems, basement waterproofing, basement windows, and floor repair. Our consistently high standards have made us an award-winning Chicago basement waterproofing contractor, so call us at (630) 777-0539 or visit our website.