Signs That Your Sump Pump May Need Maintenance

There are some things that get often get ignored in your home until they become an obvious problem. One of these is your sump pump. Unfortunately, waiting to service your sump pump can have expensive and nasty results. Once the pump goes out, you can end up with flooding and sewer water in your home, causing not only water damage but dangerous bacterial contamination.

Just like any other mechanical device, sump pumps needs regular maintenance to run efficiently. Some signs that your sump pump is in need of maintenance are:

–        Loud noises. Strange or loud noises coming from your pump could be a sign of a clog, jam or mechanical problems. Most sump pumps run fairly quietly, and should not make much noise. Loud noises could be a sign that maintenance is needed.

–        Odor. A foul odor in your home may be caused by your sump pump. It may be clogged, have seal issues or there may be a problem in the vents. If you’ve noticed an unpleasant odor, this is probably a good time to get your sump pump checked.

–        Flooding. If excess water is collecting in your sump pit, consider it time to call a plumber. The problem could be a clog, mechanical failure or just too much stress put on the unit.  Excess water can cause water damage, mold and sewer water, all of which can contaminate your home.

As with most machines, having your sump pump inspected and maintained will cost you much less than if it breaks altogether. It is better to spend a little money to keep it running properly, and fix issues now before they cause bigger, more expensive problems.

Posted on behalf of Kiddco Plumbing

Sump Pump Maintenance

Typically homes with basements will have a sump pump system connected to the perimeter drain tile, which removes ground water from the footings of a home.  Water is collected in the drain tile, where it flows into a pit within the basement.  As the pit fills up with water, it is pumped to the exterior of the home by a pump, which is connected to a discharge pipe.  A float within the pump “senses” the water level and will turn the pump on and off automatically as needed.  This system, as well as the waterproofing of the walls, is what keeps your basement dry.  On many homes with exterior stairs to the basement will have a drain in the areaway, which drains water into the sump pit.

As with any other component of a home, this system requires regular maintenance to keep it working properly.  Maintenance includes keeping the pit itself clean, as sediment that is in the perimeter drain tile can find its way into the pit and clog the pump.  Also, pumps can fail, so it proper operating condition should be verified a couple of times a year.  In addition, the discharge pipe needs to be clear of any debris to keep the water flowing away from the house.  Any of these items can prevent the system from working properly, leading to a wet basement.

A qualified plumbing contractor specializing in residential service work can perform this maintenance very quickly and economically.  In addition, they can assist you in the installation of a sump pump system if your home does not have one.  Removing ground water away from the home is the most important step in keeping your basement dry!

What Is Drain Tile?

As the stormy summer months approach, many homeowners begin to think of the potential for water damaged basements or flooded out yards. This can be a recurring annual concern, especially, if such problems have been experienced in the past. A sump pump system is a common method used to keep your basement dry.  Another solution for a homeowner to consider would be the installation of drain tile.

Drain tile is a modern, effective, way to directly address the water saturation in the soil surrounding your home by collecting and diverting excess water elsewhere. A tile drainage system is a plumbing system that installs below-ground pipes of perforated PVC to move water away from the structure of your home.  The type of system that is best for you depends on a correct evaluation of your individual problem. For instance, is it primarily your basement floor that is flooding? Does this happen only after a heavy rainfall or at even the slightest amount of rain? Maybe you’d simply like to stop the large pooling of water in your yard and over your driveway that seems to happen too frequently?

The main difference in placement of the drain tile is whether or not it is inside or outside of the home. Today, most homes have exterior drain tile, or footing drains, installed around the outside of the foundation during construction. However, in existing homes, usually an interior system of drain tile is installed above, within or under the concrete slab. It is possible to install an exterior drainage system for an existing home, but it is more costly since it requires digging around the home’s foundation. Your local plumbing professional can help you determine what type of drain tile installation would most effectively and economically address your specific needs.

Sump Pumps – Do You Need One?

What is a sump pump? Do you have one? Do you need one? As the summer season begins, with its corresponding share of thunderstorms, this question is often heard as concerns rise about potential flooding. Sump pumps are generally used in areas where basement flooding can be a problem or where the water table is so high that it is at or above the foundation of a home.

A sump pump removes water that has accumulated in a sump basin (typically a plastic, metal or concrete container measuring 2 ft. across by 2 to 3 ft. deep) in the basement of some homes. The sump pump sends the water away from the house where it will no longer pose a problem, such as to a storm drain or drain field. Some older homes may have a sump pump that discharges its water into the sewer system but this is no longer acceptable by most municipal plumbing codes.

Sump pumps are usually wired into your standard electrical system, although they should probably have a backup system in the event of power failure (such as a battery backup or generator) since the sump basin may overflow if the water retained reaches a certain level without being pumped. Sump pumps may be pedestal, where the motor is mounted above the sump, or submersible where the motor is sealed entirely inside the sump. Sump pumps can be automatic or manual, and vary as to the amount of horsepower, maximum height the pump will remove water, number of motor phases and voltage, as well as the type of water level sensing switch.

Your local plumbing professional can make sure that you are equipped with the appropriate system to meet your individual needs. Sump pumps need to be maintained and should be inspected yearly to avoid problems that could decrease its efficiency.


Do You Need a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are designed to prevent flooding in basements.  This can happen because a basement is below ground level and the water from the soil can leak into the area when it is saturated.  Heavy rains can also cause water to enter the basement due to run-off.  A sump pump can prevent thousands of dollars of damage and unsanitary conditions with standing water.

A sump pump is needed in any area that is prone to flooding or in houses that sit below the water line.  Any house that has a basement is susceptible to problems and should have a sump pump as a precaution.

Many sump pumps are set up to work off the house’s electricity but they also need a backup power option in case the electricity goes out.  It would not do you any good to have a sump pump if your electricity goes off with no other method for it to run.

A sump pump can prevent damage to the contents in your basement, especially if it is a finished area.  This can prevent thousands of dollars spent in replacing items such as carpeting and furnishings.  Another benefit of having a sump pump is that it will prevent damage to your foundation from water.  Over time, water can weaken wooden joists or beams, causing them to crack or rot.  It is much more expensive to make structural repairs than to purchase and set up a sump pump.

Your local plumber can help you select a sump pump and install it so that it works properly when you need it.  They can answer any questions you may have about the pump before and after purchase.

What You Need to Know About Your Sump Pump

If you are planning to build a home or already own a home, the subject of sump pumps should be of interest to you. A sump pump is an electrical pump that is generally located below the basement slab. Its purpose is to remove water that could potential damage your home. This could be ground water from flooding or water from an overflow of some type in your home. When the water reaches the sump pump, the pump automatically begins to operate and pump the water out of and away from the house. You might consider it your dry basement insurance policy.

Many people have sump pumps in their homes that have never been activated. They have not had any basement water problems. This does not mean, they never will. However, the fact that the pump has not been used is one of the best reasons to do a maintenance test. If and when the pump is needed, you want to make sure that it will perform like it is expected to.

If you know your sump pump is frequently used to alleviate water problems, that just means you should have your pump checked more frequently. You want to be secure in the knowledge that when the water reaches the pump it will be activated like it is supposed to. The worst way to find out your pump needs repair or replacement is by finding your basement flooded with water.

Having a working sump pump in your basement is a very inexpensive means of protecting your home and the equipment and items located in your lowest level.

Choosing a Sump Pump

A wet basement is the breeding ground for all kinds of problems.  Water in your basement can cause damage to the foundation, which is very expensive to repair.  You can also end up with mold and mildew in the walls of your home after they have been wet.  A sump pump can prevent water damage and other issues associated with water in the basement.

A sump pump is designed to work automatically to keep the water from building up.  When the pump detects water in the basement, it should come on without your intervention.  It will then shut off when the water is gone to prevent the motor from burning up.  It is a good idea to have a battery backup in case the electricity is lost during a storm so that the sump pump can keep working.

You have two types of sump pumps to choose from that will remove the water from your basement.  The first type is the pedestal that sits above the water.  This unit is easy to service if it should have a problem because it is convenient to access.  The second type of sump pump is the submersible.  This pump sits down in the water out of the way.  The benefit of this type is that it is usually more powerful and can get the water out faster.  It is safe to use this type of pump in your home because its engine is sealed to prevent any water from getting inside.

If you are tired of dealing with water in your basement, contact your local plumber to install a new sump pump system.  Your plumber can recommend the best kind for your application and handle the sump pump installation and maintenance.

Test Your Sump Pump At Least Twice A Year

For the millions of Americans suffering through drought conditions, your sump pump is one of the furthest things from your mind right now.  However, it is important to test the sump pump regularly to make sure it will work when you need it.  In some homes, the sump pump is frequently called into action and these homeowners can be reasonably confident that the sump pump is working properly.

On the other hand, most sump pumps installed in basements and crawlspaces are used very infrequently.  Some may sit for months or years before they are needed.  The important thing is that the sump pump works properly when you need it.  That’s why regular sump pump testing is important even in the driest conditions.  You are taking your chances if you wait until the basement is filling up with water.  You want to choose a dry day to make sure that the float switch is working freely, the pump operates smoothly, and there is nothing blocking the discharge line.

Fortunately, you can easily check all of these things with one simple test.  First, open up the lid to the sump and inspect the sump well with a flashlight to make sure it is free of dirt, debris, and other foreign materials.  Use a shop vac to clean the well if necessary.

Next, slowly pour a 5 gallon bucket of water into the sump and watch to make sure the pump actives and pumps the water out of the sump.  Repeat the process so that the pump activates and shuts off properly at least twice.  Check outside to make sure the water was discharged away from the house through the discharge outlet.

If all is well, close the lid – you are done until next time!  The test is so easy that there is no good reason not to do it twice a year.  Try adding it to the list of things you do every time you set the clocks ahead or back for daylight savings time. If there were any problems encountered, have the sump pump checked out by a good local plumber.

Protect Your Home With a Backup Sump Pump

If you are one of the millions of Americans with a sump pump installed in your basement or crawlspace to protect your home against flooding, you should consider maximizing your protection by installing a back up sump pump.  Most experts agree that a backup sump pump provides an extra level of protection against flood damage.  This extra protection is especially important if you frequently depend on the sump pump to keep water out of your home or if your sump pump is installed in a second home or vacation home that does not get used year round.

Sump pumps are generally pretty reliable, but when the flood waters rise, you need to be absolutely certain that the pump will work.  A sump pump can be clogged by hair, dirt, debris, pet hair, or a rodent’s nest.  In addition, the float switch can get stuck, the motor can seize up, or the discharge pipe can become clogged or frozen.  You may need your sump pump to work during a storm, but this is most likely time for a power outage that will render the sump pump useless.

Most people discover a problem with their sump pump at the worst possible time – when the water is rising quickly.  If you are at home, you may be able to clear a clogged sump pump or discharge line, free a sticky float, or connect the sump pump to a portable generator, but if you are not at home or simply fail to notice the problem you can quickly be facing expensive floodwater damage.

You can avoid these problems by having your plumber install a backup sump pump that will kick in if the primary sump pump stops working or cannot keep up.  Some backup sump pumps are battery operated and others work using household water pressure.  Your local plumber can help you decide what type of backup sump pump would be best for your home.

Basic Types of Backup Sump Pumps

Many experts agree that a backup sump pump is an excellent way to ensure that your basement or home is protected against flooding and damage to the foundation.  A sump pump is designed to protect your home and foundation against water by collecting the water and pumping it safely away from your home.  Sump pumps are installed in a sump basin or well below the level of the basement floor.

There will typically be some sort of drainage system installed around the perimeter of the basement that drains into the sump basin.  The drainage system collects water around the foundation and directs it to the sump basin.

The sump pump is activated by a float switch when the water level in the well reaches a certain height and pumps the water out of the basin and safely away from your home through a discharge pipe.  Most primary sump pumps are used infrequently.  As a result, they can fail at the worst possible time which is when the water level is rising.

If the sump pump system is not used often, the pump intake can become clogged by debris that accumulates in the unused sump basin. In addition, the float switch can become stuck, the discharge line can become clogged, or the pump itself can fail.   Another problem with a primary sump pump is that it is wired into the household electrical system and if the power goes out during a storm, the sump pump will not operate.

A backup sump pump addresses these problems.  The backup sump pump is also installed in the sump basin and set to operate if the water level in the basin gets higher than it should.  If the primary sump pump fails, the backup sump pump will take over before the water level reaches your basement.

In addition, backup sump pumps do not rely on household electricity and are not affected by power outages.  Some backup sump pumps are battery operated while others use water pressure to operate.  A battery operated sump pump needs regular battery maintenance, but can be easily installed in almost any type of sump pump configuration.  Water powered backup sump pumps need less maintenance, but are a little trickier to install, especially in finished basements where access to plumbing may be problematic.