Essential Sump Pump Maintenance Tips

Aug23 By Emergency Plumber Plumbing Sump Pump
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Homeownership comes with its fair share of responsibilities, one of which is keeping your basement dry. As a Seattle resident, you may have dealt with water intrusion issues in the past. All it takes is one flooding incident to realize that sump pump installation is worth it. Whether you’re new to the concept of sump pumps or are wondering how to maintain the one in your basement, you’ll find the following information useful.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a simple yet effective device installed in the lowest point of your basement or crawlspace. Its primary job is to help keep the area under the building dry and prevent flooding. When groundwater rises into the sump pit, the pump automatically activates and pumps the water away from your home, typically into a nearby storm drain. When the water level lowers again, the pump shuts off automatically, protecting against water intrusion with no effort on your part.

Do I Need a Sump Pump?

The answer to this question depends on where you live and how you use your basement, but here are some significant sump pump benefits to consider:

  • Flood prevention: Flooding is more common in Seattle’s rainy climate than in drier parts of the US, and a sump pump acts as your first line of defense. Indeed, adding a sump pump to your finished basement is a game-changer for preserving your home’s structural integrity and preventing costly water damage.
  • Mold and mildew mitigation: Damp basements with poor air circulation are breeding grounds for mold and mildew. A dry basement facilitated by a sump pump can help mitigate these issues, making the indoor air healthier.
  • Property value: In today’s real estate market, buyers consider a well-maintained sump pump a valuable selling point. This can positively impact your home’s resale value and help it stand out from the crowd.
  • Peace of mind: Knowing your basement won’t become a swimming pool during the next downpour provides peace of mind. For homeowners, the assurance of a dry basement makes installing a sump pump a no-brainer.

What are the Different Types of Sump Pumps?

Three primary types of sump pumps are available. Understanding your home’s specific needs and how different types of sump pumps operate helps you make the right decision. Here’s a rundown of each option:

  • Pedestal sump pumps are generally less expensive and easier to repair because the motor isn’t submerged. However, they tend to be less powerful and noisier than their submersible counterparts.
  • Submersible sump pumps are installed directly in the sump pit and are submerged underwater. They are ideal for larger basements because of their greater pumping capacity. Although more expensive, submersible pumps are quieter and often last longer because the motor is sealed and protected from water and dust.
  • Battery-operated backups ensure functionality during power outages. When the electricity goes out during a storm, right when you need your sump pump the most, these battery-operated units keep your basement dry. They come in standalone units or models that work in tandem with your primary sump pump.

What are the Signs My Sump Pump Isn’t Working?

When you’ve invested in a sump pump, especially in a finished basement, you want to know it’s functioning properly. A failing sump pump can quickly become an emergency and require immediate sump pump repair. Here are some telltale signs that something’s wrong:

  • Constant running: If your sump pump runs nonstop, even in dry conditions, consider that a red flag.
  • Strange noises: Any unusual sounds like grinding or rattling could indicate internal damage.
  • Bad odor: Stale or musty smells might mean the pump isn’t removing water properly, leading to stagnant buildup.
  • Slow pumping: If you notice water being removed more slowly than usual, the pump may require service.
  • Frequent cycling: If the sump pump cycles on and off too rapidly, this could indicate a problem with the float switch.
  • Age: Sump pumps become less reliable as they get older. You may want to replace your pump every 10 years for optimal performance.
  • Standing water: If you see water in the pit, but the pump isn’t activating, it’s time for a repair.
  • No power: If the sump pump doesn’t start, check the power source. If power isn’t the issue, you may need professional help.

How Do I Maintain My Sump Pump?

Maintaining your sump pump is crucial to keep it operating effectively. Consistent upkeep helps prevent needing emergency sump pump repair. For the best performance, set aside time each month to go through the following maintenance tasks:

  1. Keep the Pit Covered

    Fit a secure lid: Make sure the sump pit has a properly sized, tightly fitting lid to prevent foreign material from falling inside.
    Check for seals or cracks: Inspect the cover for any seals that may have worn out or cracks that need repairing.

  2. Test Your Sump Pump

    Pour water: Carefully pour about 5 gallons into the sump pit to activate the pump. This checks whether the pump starts, operates, and stops once the water level drops.
    Check the float: Make sure the float isn’t tangled or obstructed. It should rise with the water level, activating the pump. Sometimes, sediment can restrict the float, causing it not to trigger the pumping mechanism.
    Observe the discharge: Look for water being pumped out of the discharge line. If the water isn’t flowing or flows back into the pit, you might have a problem requiring sump pump repair service.
    Check for blockages: Use a flashlight to look inside the discharge pipe for any debris buildup. Even small obstructions can impact the pump’s effectiveness.
    Inspect the alarm: If your system includes an alarm, ensure it sounds when the water level rises and silences once the pump starts.

  3. Clean the Pump and Pit

    Remove debris: Take out any visible debris, stones, or small objects from the pit. Obstructions can hinder the pump’s performance and require a sump pump cleaning service.
    Clean the screen: Scrub the intake screen to remove sediment buildup. A neglected screen may lead to poor water intake and pump failure.
    Wipe it down: Gently clean the outer surface of the sump pump with a damp cloth. Dust and dirt can accumulate and interfere with its performance.
    Inspect for rust: While cleaning, check for signs of corrosion, which can compromise the pump’s efficiency.

  4. Check the Electrical Components

    Wire inspection: Look for any frayed wires or loose connections and secure or replace them as necessary.
    Circuit breaker check: Confirm that the sump pump is connected to a working circuit breaker. An overloaded and tripped circuit could leave you with a non-functioning pump.

  5. Lubricate as Needed

    Oil the ports: Some older models have oil ports that require lubrication. Refer to the manual and apply the recommended oil to maintain motor efficiency.
    Check seals: Inspect and lubricate the seals to ensure they provide a secure closure, which is essential for optimal performance.

  6. Inspect the Battery-Powered Backup

    Battery inspection: If you have a backup sump pump, inspect the battery terminals for corrosion and clean them if necessary.
    Test the backup: Periodically test your backup pump by unplugging the primary pump and filling the sump pit with water.
    Monitor the battery level: Ensure the battery is fully charged. Some systems have an alert for low battery levels.

  7. Assess Your Documentation

    Keep records: Write down the sump pump’s service history so your plumber can quickly assess any issues or suggest upgrades.
    Review warranties: Always know the details of your sump pump’s warranty. This information is vital if you encounter issues and need sump pump replacement service.
    Emergency contacts: Keep a list of emergency sump pump repair experts easily accessible in case of equipment failure.

Partner with Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating for All Your Sump Pump Needs

When it comes to protecting your finished basement from water damage, nothing is more important than a working sump pump. A quality installation and regular maintenance can save you the headache and expense of repairing a water-damaged basement. But even a properly maintained system may encounter issues over time. That’s when you need a reliable partner for sump pump services.

Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating is a trusted name for 24/7 emergency sump pump repair. Our family-owned business only hires skilled and fully licensed technicians to join our crew. With over 20 years of experience and a reputation for unbeatable work and positive customer experiences, you know your home is in good hands.

Don’t wait for a rainy day to find out your sump pump isn’t working. Call Puget Sound Plumbing and Heating at (206) 938-3219 to request sump pump installation, maintenance, or repair in the Seattle area.

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