Many people may not have considered the need to check their sump pump to ensure it is functioning properly. But if it fails, the results can be potentially catastrophic. An annual sump pump maintenance checkup by a qualified plumber can help prevent problems that have long-lasting effects.

What Is a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are used in many homes and commercial buildings that have foundations below the water table or are in areas that are prone to flooding. They are typically found in basements and are designed to pump water away from the property where it can be suitably drained – i.e. a storm drain.

The water usually enters the sump through the foundation drain (weeping tile) near the basement wall. This is designed to prevent water damage, which often includes mold.

The pumps should not send water into the main sewer, which could be the case for older pump installations. If you aren’t sure, contact a plumber who can check.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are essentially two main types of sump pumps. These include submersible – which are placed underwater, and pedestal – which are positioned with the pump above the water. Usually, they usually last around a decade before needing to be replaced. When it is time to purchase a new sump pump, it’s important to purchase a commercial-grade unit to improve longevity and performance.

You may also have a combination pump which includes a battery back-up which is necessary for areas with frequent storms and power outages. If your home has a septic tank, you may also have a sewage pump. Many new pumps these days have alarm systems to let you know when it has been activated, or even failed – some of which can send alerts straight to your phone.

Sump Pump Warning Signs and Maintenance Tips

  • It doesn’t turn on – In this case, double-check that the power outlet isn’t the culprit, or that it hasn’t blown a fuse or tripped a breaker. If this isn’t the issue, then check that the float valve is operational.
  • It’s on constantly – If there is water in the ‘crock’ or basin while the pump is on, you may need a more powerful pump. Otherwise, check if the float valve is held open which can be the case if the pump has shifted too close to the sides. Finally, a check valve failure will cause water to run back into the crock; so, check to see if that’s the culprit. Make sure it’s present and working.
  • It makes rattling or grinding type noises – If you have noticed the pump make an unusually loud or different sound as opposed to the usual quiet hum, this could indicate motor damage and pending failure.
  • It’s getting old – There is a saying that if something isn’t broken, then don’t fix or replace it. However, a sump pump is not something you want to fail at the wrong time. Depending on the level of the water table where you live, and how much it needs to run, your pump may be needed more often than a nearby neighbor’s. If it’s around ten years old, is of poor quality, or needs to remove a large volume of water, then it might be wise to buy a new one.
  • The motor runs intermittently – If your sump pump works on some occasions and not others, this may indicate a blockage. Make sure to clean it regularly to remove built up sediment or debris. This can include rust, which over time can create a gel-like substance that can cause blockages. You can also install a filter and an airtight lid to help prevent debris from getting into the pump.

If you’re just looking for a quick test and aren’t sure if your sump pump is working, then pour a bucket of water into the crock/basin to make sure it turns on. This is something you can do periodically in addition to checking that the pipes are secure, the vent hole is clear, and the sump pump is clean.

Call us at 517-423-3121 for an inspection to determine if you need a sump pump checkup or assistance with a faulty unit or system. We also offer professional installation services, and can advise you on the best system for your water needs.