Sump Pump Maintenance Guide

Sump pumps are an incredible invention, they are extremely helpful for homes where the water level provides any sort of risk, or where heavy rains can quickly lead to flooding.

Sump pumps can avoid incredible amounts of damage by carrying water away from the area they cause damage, the water collects in the sump pit and is pumped to a discharge pipe. These products are installed in a huge amount of American homes with basements, and also have a lot of industrial uses. It’s easy to understand why, considering the trouble they can prevent.

Sump pumps require a little maintenance. They’re not excessively hard work, but your pump should be seen as your insurance policy, and once in a while you should ensure it is renewed so you don’t end up with the worst case scenario. These products are quite expensive to install so the last thing you want is for one to be rendered redundant by a blockage or a dead battery, and for you not to realise.

Following our maintenance tips will ensure this doesn’t happen to you. Some of the regular maintenance tasks are extremely simple, some are more complex, but they are all worthwhile. Some should be done yearly, some a little more regularly. We have listed the main aspects you should consider to keep your pump in great working order in this article.

Float Check - Every Few Months

The mechanism within most sump pumps uses a float to trigger the pumping. This is common in plumbing. When the float rises to the appropriate level then the pump will kick in, and pump water away. If, for any reason the float is not working then the pump won’t start when it needs to. Unfortunately, the float can be pretty susceptible to breaking. It may have issues if there is some sort of perforation or damage which can lead to it not floating when it is needed.

The check for this can be relatively easy to do. All you need to do is to manually pour water in the sump pit. The float should rise and the pump activate until the water has been removed. If this is not working then you may need to buy a replacement float or get a plumber to take a look.

Visual Check - Every Six Months

This sounds extremely basic, but you would be amazed how often this can be ignored. Taking your sump pump out (if possible) and having a look at all of the different components to see if there are any obvious cracks, rust or other damage is a simple and wise way to ensure you don’t get nasty surprises which could easily be avoided.

Clean Out the Pit - Every Six or 12 Months

All sump pumps use a sump pit, whether you have a submersible or a pedestal sump pump. Either way, you will need to periodically clean out the pit. It is very easy for things to build up within the pit, and this is especially true if it is in an area where water regularly flows. The sump pit may get gravelly, it could have leaves and other debris in it or anything the rain can bring in. Cleaning out anything which could affect the mechanism of your pump is a basic and helpful thing to do. Stones and debris can get pulled in by the suck action of the pump. The grate of your pit can be a hotbed for these collecting and causing issues. This may not be a fun job, but it is necessary.

Check For Electrical Issues - Every year

The combination of electrics and water can cause issues. This is why a lot of people have backup systems for their sump pumps. However, most of the time, the electrics are fine, and the casing protecting the pump should keep everything safe and functioning. This is one of the areas you should check on a regular basis.

You should check the connections regularly and check that you have power running to your sump pump. This can be done by running through a test pump. If you don’t have power, double check plugs and connections are all working. If your pump still isn’t running, things can get a little more complicated, and you should only attempt repairs if you know what you are doing. Check the circuit breaker and the ground interrupter if your pump has one of these. It may be as simple as pressing the reset button on this.

Unfortunately, if you’ve checked everything and your sump pump isn’t working then it may be time to replace it. This is rare, and the chances are that the pump will be fine, but checking the electrics is recommended.

Check The Drain Line - Every 12 Months

The drain line is where the water will be removed from the pit. As this is the route out of the pit for the water, damage, corrosion or blockages can cause the water not to drain out, and can cause the very flood you’re trying to avoid. A visual check is often enough to know if the drain line is okay, but doing the test run through will give a bit more peace of mind, and you can rest assured that the pipes are working.

Pump Not Working? - Check the Valve and Impeller

If your pump isn’t working and all of the other checks have been carried out, it is worth looking at other areas which may need replacement. The check valve may have gone and this could be allowing water to flow back into the pit and causing flooding. Alternatively, the impeller may be worn, blocked or broken, this is the mechanical element which the motor turns during the pumping process.

If these elements do turn out to be broken, you can disassemble, clean and reassemble your pump to try and see if this is simply down to a blockage or some other small error. If it starts working again, keep an eye on it, but it may well be fine. If it is still broken, a replacement part may be needed or worse, a replacement sump pump.

Check Your Backups

A wise thing to do is to have backups for your sump pump. Many people will have a battery powered pump which will kick in when the main pump doesn’t work. They may instead have a water powered pump. Turn off your main pump and then check that the backup pump still kicks in when the water reaches a certain level.

Checks Unique to Your Pump

When you purchased your pump, it will have come with a manual, which may have some specific instructions in it. Read through this and see if there is any sort of advice offered by the manufacturer. Different pumps require different upkeep, and there is a chance you may have to grease a component of the pump or even add oil. If you’ve misplaced your manual, the chances are the manufacturer’s website will have one for you to check over.

Conclusion

Cleanliness is of paramount importance when it comes to a sump pump. They do some dirty work, and though this isn’t a problem in itself, as soon as debris such as twigs, leaves and stones start to get into the pit or the actual mechanism of the pump then you can find yourself with serious problems. The maintenance for the sump pump should start with the sump pit. Keeping this clean can stop you from having as many issues with the pump in the future.

A visual inspection from time to time will be enough to see if you have any cracks or any clear damage that needs to be addressed. The main aspect of your maintenance is to do regular tests and checks to ensure that the pump is still working.