In the spring, rain falling on frozen or saturated ground can create the perfect storm for water flooding into your home’s basement. If your basement is prone to flooding, sump pumps are vital to keeping below-grade rooms dry and home structures stable.
The lowly sump pump made a surprising impact on homes over the years. Basements haven’t always been furnishable spaces in homes. Before the 1950s, unfinished basements were common in areas where ground froze deeply enough to require foundations, while homes in warmer climates usually rested on slabs.
Tips and Tricks for Maintaining Your Sump Pump
The Intact Centre at the University of Waterloo reported in 2019 that flooded basements were the biggest climate-related change being faced by Canadians. It should come as no surprise that broken sump pumps are a leading cause of water damage; in fact, they have been one of our most frequently cited claims for years.
While replacing your sump pump is relatively inexpensive, repairing your basement after a sump pump failure can leave you in a pinch. The average cost to repair a basement after a sump pump failure is over $40,000 in 2022.
Today we’re sharing some tips for maintaining your sump pump and extending its life.
What is a Sump Pump?
The sump pump’s job is to remove groundwater that accumulates around your home and flows into a foundation drainage system. Once the sump pump valve reaches a certain level, the pump is activated and pushes the water to a nearby storm drain.
If your sump pump is broken or not cleaned regularly, it can fail to drain this water, causing your basement to flood.
Purchase a Backup System
Not all sump pumps have a backup system, but we highly recommend that you purchase one that has this feature. If your main sump pump stops working for any reason, the backup system acts as a failsafe. In the event of a power outage, for example, your backup system could save the day. Additionally, most sump pumps have a battery backup system built-in that self charges when the power is on, so that it can continue running for several hours or days when the power is off.
Here’s How to Make Sure Your Sump Pump is Working Properly
Ensure the Sump Pump Has Somewhere to Drain
Find the outside pipe that catches the water as it drains from the pump. Examine the inside of the pipe to ensure that no dirt, debris, or ice is clogging the drain. If you find any debris remove them immediately. Make sure that the pipe opening is free of obstructions so that the water doesn’t back-flow into your basement.
Test the Sump Pump
Locate the sump pump pit in your basement or crawl space. The pump is located at the lowest point on your basement floor.
After locating it, test the sump pump by pouring a bucket of water directly into the sump pit. The pump should turn on, remove the water from the pit, and shut itself off in a matter of seconds.
Ensure that the float and the check valve move freely. Your float and check valve likely need to be cleaned if you pour the water into the pit and it doesn’t start pumping immediately.
Contact a maintenance professional if the pump is still not working after you’ve cleaned it.
Improve the Pump’s Efficiency
Don’t forget to check your sump pump regularly, especially when snow is melting or large amounts of precipitation are predicted. These regular checks can help increase the pump’s efficiency and prolong its life.
When Should I Replace My Sump Pump?
Your sump pump is not designed to last forever, but depending on the type of sump pump you have, it can function anywhere between 5 and 30 years. With that in mind, you should be aware of the age of your sump pump because an unexpected failure could lead to a flood.
Depending on where you live and how much precipitation you get, the life of your sump pump could be affected. So if your pump is running more frequently because you live in a wet area, you’ll have to replace it more often.
Consult a maintenance professional for more advice on when to replace your sump pump.