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Every house owner understands the importance of regular home maintenance. Another area that needs your attention is your sump pump – equipment that quietly works to protect your home from any water damage. With good sump pump maintenance, the appliance will be ready if and when you need it.
Keep in mind that a defective sump pump is not easily identifiable – until it’s too late and the equipment fails to operate when it’s absolutely required. In which case, you would be left with basement flooding or massive water damage.
That’s why experts recommend routine sump pump maintenance every three to four months and an annual maintenance that’s a more comprehensive sump pump cleaning procedure.
To understand sump pump maintenance, you need to know what a sump pump is, and how it works.
What is a sump pump?
A sump pump is equipment that helps prevent groundwater or rainwater from entering your house. It’s designed to drain the excess water into a sump pump pit, where it’s pumped out away from your home’s foundation.
Basically, a sump pump works hard to prevent any kind of flooding in your home – keeping your basement dry and your foundation strong. That’s why it’s extremely crucial to keep your sump pump in good working condition.
How does a sump pump work?
The electrically operated water pump is designed to control the water levels. Once the water level reaches a certain point, the pump turns on automatically and works to expel it. The pump turns off by itself when the water recedes below the established level.
The equipment helps to:
- Regularly expel groundwater coming towards your house.
- Prevent water from flooding your basement. It can expel large quantities of water during an unexpected house flooding or a broken water supply pipe.
Do sump pumps need maintenance?
Like any other home system or home appliance, a sump pump too requires regular maintenance to keep it functional and in good condition. The upkeep is especially needed as the water pump stays idle for long periods of time. It only works when the groundwater rises beyond an established level. Or, in rare cases such as floods or pipe ruptures.
Sump pump maintenance tips
The following upkeep tips can help you ensure that your sump pump stays in working order for a long time to come. However, keep in mind that since there are various types of sump pumps, their maintenance might vary. Remember to consult the user manual for standard maintenance and service schedules.
Know everything about your sump pump
When you buy a sump pump, keep the manufacturer’s instructions safe and accessible for easy reference. It will tell you about the type of sump pump (pedestal sump pump or a submersible pump), the unit’s age, and its vital parts. If you’ve bought an older house or are renting the property, you should look at the motor to record the brand name and model number. This information will help you in case a part gets damaged and needs replacement.
Keep in mind that while both submersible sump pumps (where the motor sits inside the sump pit) and pedestal sump pumps (where the motor is above floor level) are designed differently, they do have certain common parts such as the motor, float switch, power cords, the impeller, and the discharge pipe.
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Check your sump pump’s function periodically
Check if your sump pump does its job once a month. Make sure it’s connected to its power supply. Pour water into the sump pit and watch how the equipment runs. Make sure there are no odd noises while the pump is running.
Know the signs of a faulty sump pump
If you notice any of the following signs, you’ll need to call a licensed professional immediately. These include:
- Strange noises. It could mean your sump pump has worn-out parts.
- Rattling or grinding noises. It could be a damaged impeller.
- Excessive moisture in the basement. Your sump pump has probably stopped working altogether. If the pump is not replaced asap, the moisture could cause extensive damage to your personal belongings, finished basements, and even your health. Plus, it could lead to growth of mold and mildew.
- Vibrating motor: It could mean a deformed impeller.
- Random turning on and off of the sump pump. This indicates a problem with the internal wiring.
- Oil leaking. The sump pump may need replacement.
Deep clean your sump pump regularly
Cleanliness increases the lifespan and efficiency of your equipment. Keep in mind that the average lifespan of a sump pump is around seven years. Of course, proper maintenance and care will help to extend this period.
Here are some steps to clean your sump pump and sump pit:
- Turn off the sump pump. Ensure that appliances such as washing machines are not connected.
- Rinse the sump pump with a garden hose.
- Remove any caked debris by using a plastic scraper or putty knife.
- Thoroughly clean out the sump pit with a wet vac.
- Wait for the pump to dry completely.
- Reattach the pump to the discharge pipe.
- Plug the pump into the power source.
Cover the sump pump
This will help prevent larger debris, lint, and sediment from accumulating inside the sump pit.
Check the discharge line
Your drainage pipes may be blocked – causing slower draining of water from the sump pit. Inspect the drainage pipes and remove any blockages asap.
Consider getting a backup sump pump
If you live in a storm-prone area, it’s a good idea to install another sump pump that can work on a backup power source such as a battery-operated sump pump.
Call a sump pump expert if you sense trouble
If you’re clueless about what’s wrong with your pump, or if you find some really disturbing signs of damage, it’s best to hire an expert who specializes in sump pump maintenance, repair, and replacement.
How much does sump pump maintenance cost?
The average cost to repair a sump pump runs to $510 approximately. Of course, the final cost may vary depending on the type of repair required or the extent of the damage. It could cost you anywhere between $110 to $1,000.
Plumbers typically charge between $45 and $65 per hour. Needless to say, simpler pumps with fewer repair needs will require less time, effort, and labor cost.
Keep in mind that the cost to repair or replace a sump pump is nothing compared to the potential cost of a flooded basement. It’s important that the unit gives optimal performance and doesn’t fail suddenly.
Your sump pump protects your home from the elements – keeping it away from flooding during storms and heavy rains or from damage to the foundation. It works hard to keep your home dry. The equipment plays a crucial part in your home’s overall water management system.
Proper sump pump maintenance will ensure that the machine is always doing what it should be doing – day and night.
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