Wolseley PRO Pipeline Blog
When the spring rain starts pouring, water tends to build up around homes, buildings and streets. For contractors, there is often an increase in need for sump pumps and maintenance work in the spring. Here’s what you should know about sump pump maintenance for spring. Plus, this information may be helpful to share with customers and homeowners to schedule maintenance work and ensure optimal pump performance.
How Does A Sump Pump Work?
A sump pump is important to keep a home's water system running efficiently and most importantly, keeps water flowing outside and away from the home. Many homeowners aren’t knowledgeable a the equipment that helps keep their homes dry. To help them get the most out of their sump pump, it may be helpful to explain how a sump pump works.
Sump pumps are typically located in the bottom of a home, in what is called a sump pump pit, or sump basin. This pit is dug approximately two feet into the ground and gradually fills with water for the sump pump to collect and push outside. The water comes from excess rain or water within the ground near the home, but can also be from washing machines that empty out into the sump pit.
When the water level in a sump pit reaches a certain level, the pressure sensors in the sump pump turn on and the sump pump pushes water through piping that travels away from the home’s foundation. To ensure water does not flow back in, there is a one-way check valve to prevent water from returning to the sump pit.
Choosing A Sump Pump Based On Needs
With many sump pump options available, it takes some careful consideration to choose one that meets a home’s needs, a testing schedule, and maintenance preferences. Here are the two types of sump pumps:
This type of sump pump is covered inside of the sump pump pit and is typically the type of sump pump installed during home construction. This is the most common type of sump pump.
Non-submersible Or Pedestal
A non-submersible sump pump, also known as a pedestal sump pump, is installed above a basement floor with a motor and pipe connection. The inlet pipe is connected to the motor and goes into the sump pump pit to draw out water. This is a less costly option and is often done after a home is built. A non-submersible or pedestal sump pump can be slightly louder than a submersible sump pump.
How Often Should Sump Pumps Be Tested?
Sump pumps should generally be tested every 3-4 months but can be tested more or less depending on the house. For example, if you examine a sump pump pit where the homeowners also use it to dispose of water from the washing machine, you may want to suggest that the homeowners frequently clean and test the sump pump. Soap and grime can hinder the sump pump’s performance.
It’s important that homeowners get a sump pump check in the spring, ahead of the rainy season, or just before winter and the snowy months.
Top 6 Sump Pump Maintenance Tips
When checking a customer’s sump pump and doing sump pump maintenance, you’ll want to reference these six tips for the best outcome:
- Check to see that the pump is plugged into a working ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and make sure the cord isn’t cracked or on the verge of breaking. GFCI breakers have a tendency to trip in damp areas, turning off the sump pump. Periodical check-ins on the sump pump and resetting the GFCI outlet will help ensure smooth operations.
- Examine the sump pump to ensure it is in an upright position. Vibrations from the motor and the force it produces can cause the sump pump to fall or tilt. This jams the float arm and prevents it from activating the pump.
- Perform manual tests to see how the sump pump is running. See if the sump pump starts automatically by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pump pit. If the sump pump doesn’t run and water isn’t moving, there can be further mechanical issues with the pump.
- Give the sump pump a spring cleaning. With submersible sump pumps, it’s especially important to remove the cover on the sump pump pit and see if there is any debris floating around. You can also remove your sump pump from the pit to clean the small grate on the bottom to prevent blockage.
- Ensure the sump pump’s outlet pipes are tightly joined and water is draining outside, at least 6 meters (20 feet) away from the home’s foundation. Take a visual survey to ensure there isn’t debris, dirt or animal nests near the outlet pipe that can prevent water from flowing out
- Make sure homeowners have a back-up, battery-operated sump pump in case of a sump pump power failure in a storm. This is more of a preventative measure than maintenance, but it does contribute to a flood-free environment.
When To Get Sump Pump Maintenance
If you’re talking with customers about sump pump maintenance, let them know that there are a variety of preventative measures and possible ways to fix sump pump issues. Be thorough with your examination of the sump pump and let homeowners know your findings before solving any problems. It’s also a great time to remind them of the importance of routine sump pump maintenance from a professional.
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