How To Check Sump Pump Functionality & Avoid
Have you thought about your sump pump recently? Usually, it’s enough to know that it’s down in the basement or crawl space on standby. You don’t think too much about how it’s doing or how it’s working.
However, in dire circumstances, that quiet little fixture can be the difference between
salvaging your home in a storm or flood — or incurring hundreds of thousands of dollars in water damage. You want to be sure that yours is in a solid state of repair!
How Does a Sump Pump Work?
Before we inquire about “how to check if sump pump is working?”, we need to understand how it’s actually supposed to work. Sump pumps were developed to send water away from your property. Your home comes with pits, or sump basins hollowed out beneath your house to collect excess water that accumulates in the soil and ground due to heavy rainfall or your proximity to a body of water. If these basins get full enough, a float switch trigger will cause the pump to activate and initiate sump pump drainage, sending water out through a discharge pipe, lowering the water level within the basin, and sending that excess water away from the foundation of your home. When enough water has emptied, the float switch disengages and turns off the pump. Nobody wants to picture a flood overtaking their home. It’s one of those terrible worst-case scenarios. But the reality is that even a few inches of water can put your basement out of commission and require colossal repair work.
The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) tells us that flood claims come to around $34,000. You should make it a point to understand how to check sump pump conditions and ensure that your own pump is in proper working order should an emergency arise. This basic sump pump maintenance is actually very simple to perform.
How to Check Sump Pump for Efficacy
Let’s start with a straightforward visual assessment. As you inspect your sump pump, you should be able to see signs of damage or clogging. If you notice dirt or debris, scoop it out immediately. An abundance of excess material can slow and impede drainage or stop your sump pump altogether.
Next, if you unplug the sump pump from its power source and then immediately plug it back in, you’ll be able to test that both the motor and the float switch are working properly. Unplug both components and then plug the motor back in by itself. If the pump doesn’t turn on immediately, you’ll know that you’ve got problems and may need to look at your sump pump repair options — perhaps replacing the sump pump is usually the best way to go If the motor does turn on, the float switch, and you’re good to go. Whatever you do, you must not neglect to plug in both the motor and the float switch. Otherwise, when the water comes, you’re opening yourself up to serious damage.
Lastly, in your “how to check sump pump” process, you can actually give yourself the best indication that your sump pump is ready to go by pouring a small portion of water through the sump pump and watching whether it’s properly removed. Using a 5-gallon bucket or similar item, pour water into the basin and watch the water rise. It will soon trigger the float switch and turn on the motor to get rid of the water. If this doesn’t happen, then replace the sump pump quickly before any water comes your way.
Keeping Your Sump Pump Working When You’re Away From Home
For all their modern ingenuity and innovation, sump pumps are subject to failure, just like any other mechanical solution. You might have clogs you’re unaware of that sneak in depending on the content of the water that comes through.
Alternatively, you might be dealing with freezing temperatures that cause your pump to malfunction. When ice forms on any part of a sump pump, this affects its ability to properly draw water out of the basement. While insulation can help mitigate this, it can still happen without warning.
Sump pumps also fail when cut off from their power supply. If a storm causes an electrical outage, your sump pump won’t be able to power on and get that stormwater away from your foundation.
On the other hand, if your pump has been running constantly and dispelling many gallons of
water, the motor can become overworked and wear down just like any other motor. If you live in a water-prone region, or your home is situated in a way that will require a lot of sump pump use, you may want to invest in a studier motor model to make sure the pump is always at the ready in all circumstances.
Because at any point in time, there’s always the possibility that a sump pump could fail, you want that serene peace of mind that comes from knowing that your pump is ready to go ‘round the clock.
You might consider investing in a state-of-the-art sump pump sensor. This is a device with a sensor capable of detecting changes in liquid levels and setting off alarms to let you know when something is amiss — a valuable fail-safe and backup accessory, particularly if you live in an area with an abundance of groundwater or seasonal flooding.
Basement waterproofing is another way to ensure that if you do end up dealing with unforeseen sump pump failure, your home will be able to defend itself against the damage. By taking steps to ensure you’re equipped with a properly maintained and regularly inspected sump pump, you won’t have to worry about water eroding your home. Fortify your sump pump with a few extra precautions and protective measures and, barring extreme occurrences, you have the ability to shield yourself from nearly any measurable water damage to your home, basement, or foundation.
Contact SmartCrawl today to learn about our Basement Defender that monitors your sump pump and helps you get ahead of pump failures