Sump pumps are common fixtures in most basements. They offer great protection against basement flooding - provided you can prevent them from failing too. Some homeowners have a love-hate relationship with their sump pumps, and we can't blame them - after all, sump pumps tend to break all the time.
According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, around 60% or more American homes have water damage or underground wetness, and that a large percentage of those homes will be victim to flooded basements at some point in time. It takes only a few inches of rain or snow melting to cause major issues.
Sump pump maintenance is key to avoiding all kinds of issues, and while increasing the life of your equipment, it will also help minimize on major repair costs.
How Sump Pumps Work
Basically, a sump pump sits in a hole in your basement or crawlspace, filtering out water as it is turned on when the pit fills up. It moves water through the pipes towards the municipal storm drain or dry well. It has a one-way valve that prevents water from entering the home.
This, and other actions work in harmony to help your house to stay dry. However, when one part quits for some reason, or if an outside disruption occurs, your sump pump may fail to fulfil its function.
7 Causes of Sump Pump Failure
Here are some of the main causes of sump pump failure:
1. Power Outage
Most commonly, when a sump pump fails to turn on, it is caused by a power outage. In the event of a power outage, a manually activated backup generator can solve the problem, especially during storms.
Power surges may also damage a sump pump, so it is important to install a service entrance surge protection device.
2. Incorrectly Sized Sump Pump
An incorrectly installed or sized sump pump can cause issues. While small sump pumps can be equally effective as bigger ones, an oversized pump will have to work harder, which will reduce its lifespan. However, if a small unit has to work harder to remove all the water, it will also shorten its lifespan.
3. Incorrect Installation
It is imperative for a sump pump to be installed correctly, following the manufacturer's instructions. In most cases, you will have to install check valve on the discharge line to prevent backflow from causing the pump impeller from rotating backwards.
4. Issues With the Switch
A switch problem is one of the leading causes of sump pump failure. When the pump shifts from its original position, the float is rendered ineffective.
5. Poor Maintenance
All sump pump manufacturers recommend frequent maintenance. Some recommend that it be performed every two to three months.
Sump Pump Maintenance Recommendations
If you have a backup pump, unplug the primary to allow the backup to pump in order to ensure that it is working properly.
- Check outside to ensure that your sump pump is discharging water.
- If your sump pump is not pumping, the impeller has probably disengaged from the pump, or the check valve is incorrectly installed.
- Ensure the float is not restricted.
- Clean the air hole in the discharge line.
- When the pump is running, be sure to listen for unusual sounds.
- Replace the back-up pump's battery every two to three years.
6. Clogged or Frozen Discharge Lines
In order for the system to work properly, water must be able to discharge. Therefore, you should ensure that the discharge pipe is clogged and free from dirt, sticks, and other debris. Install a grated covering to prevent debris from entering the discharge line.
While you can't always prevent sump pump problems, many of them can be avoided some of the time through regular maintenance. Call us today for sump pump maintenance, before the polar vortex and the run-down from snow causes your basement to flood.