Your basement or crawl space sump pump is one of the hardest working appliances in your home, especially in the humid summer months. Keeping dampness and standing water at bay is no easy task, after all. As such, it is incredibly important that you provide regular maintenance and repair for your sump pump, both personally and by hiring a professional.
What Sump Pumps Do (and How They Work)
A sump pump generally consists of three main parts: a mechanical pump, a float switch, and a discharge pipe. They are most often found in specially constructed pits, generally in the lowest part of a home, and their purpose is to keep water out of the rest of the house.
When water is funneled into the pit via drainage or seeps into the basement, it activates a special floating switch (after reaching a certain level). Once the switch is activated, the pump begins to pull water from the pit and into the discharge pipe, which takes it out of the basement and away from the house foundation. It really is that simple and that complicated. When your sump pump is working, you’ll forget all about it. When it breaks, however, you’ll notice a difference almost immediately, especially during rainfall.
Why Are Sump Pumps Important?
While the sump pump is only a part of your home’s waterproofing systems, it is one of the most important. Your sump pump is the last stop before water begins to severely leak into your basement and home and lead to damage. So, when your sump pump fails, you will notice standing water in your home pretty much immediately, especially in damp climates.
Common Sump Pump Issues
Most modern sump pumps are electrically powered, and motor failure and power loss are very common causes of sump pump failure. Keeping a backup battery for events like blackouts is very sensible, but most causes of power loss, such as damaged wiring and battery exhaustion, can be prevented with sensible and regular maintenance. Here are some other common sump pump issues:
Clogs and Blockages
Unless you have a very good cover or filter on your sump pump pit, it can collect mud and debris over time. If you don’t regularly clean the pump pit, filters, and cover, you will soon notice that the pump is working less effectively. If this is allowed to continue, it will most likely end in pump failure.
Float Switch Failure
The float switch, which indicates when your pump should work, is fairly delicate. Over time it can degrade, but another common issue is the switch becoming stuck as a result of debris. If this happens, it can be stuck in the on position, causing the pump as a whole to break down as a result of running dry. If it is stuck in the off position, your pump will not activate when the water level rises, and water will make its way into your home.
Faulty or Frozen Discharge Pipe
The discharge pipe, which carries water from the sump pump pit, is key to the functioning of your sump pump. In winter, this pipe can freeze which prevents the pit from draining, but it is also prone to blockages and clogs caused by debris from both inside and outside your home.
While sump pumps do have a lifespan and can fail over time, the most common cause of issues is a lack of proper care and maintenance. By regularly checking your pump and clearing debris from the pit and discharge pipe, you can prevent serious backups and floods in your home.
Sump Pump Repair & Maintenance
A sump pump is a specialized mechanical pump that is placed in the lowest part of your house to collect and discharge water before it enters your basement or home.
- The First and Last Line of Defense
A sump pump is very often its best defense against water and dampness, especially in the rainy season. This is because it actively collects any water which makes its way into a basement or crawl space and whisks it outside via a strategically placed discharge line.
- Part of a Larger Solution
Of course, any sump pump could become overwhelmed by too much water, which is why it is important to have it in place as a part of a larger waterproofing system that minimizes the water entering your home in the first place.
The Benefits of Having a Sump Pump
Sump pumps offer many benefits to homeowners and their properties and have very long lifespans. A good one could last you 12 to 15 years.
- Removal of Standing Water
The most obvious benefit is the prevention of standing water in your basement or crawl space. This is not just unsightly, it’s damaging to your home and health. A sump pump should prevent standing water.
- Lowered Levels of Dampness
A well-functioning sump pump should also minimize dampness and humidity by removing water from your home quickly, reducing the opportunity for it to evaporate into the air. This will minimize mold formation and make the climate more comfortable.
- Energy Efficiency
Modern sump pumps are very energy-efficient and do not use a lot of energy to run. They can also help keep your energy bills low by minimizing humidity; dry air is easier to heat and cool, after all.
Professional maintenance can be the difference between a home that is safe, dry, and comfortable and one which is blighted by unexpected breakdowns and malfunctions. When you schedule regular maintenance, you:
- Save Money
The small cost associated with booking regular maintenance is more than compensated for by the emergency repair costs that you are not going to have to pay.
- Avoid Breakdowns
Some breakdowns are unavoidable; after all, appliances have a lifespan. However, regular maintenance will prevent avoidable breakdowns and let you know when appliances are coming to the end of their usable life.
- Keep Your Home Healthy
Keeping your appliances in good working order is all-important to the health of your home. An efficiently working sump pump or dehumidifier does its part to keep your home’s climate controlled and pleasant.
Caring for Your Sump Pump
Here at Foundation Recovery Systems, we recommend that you service and carry out maintenance on your sump pump on an annual basis at least. There are five key things you should be doing every year.
Testing and Replacing Batteries
Testing the batteries in your sump pump and backup pump (should you have one) is incredibly important. By ensuring that your pump is receiving power and working properly before heavy rainfall begins, you can replace any dead batteries and rest easy when the rainy season arrives.
Checking the Discharge Line
Ideally, you should check your discharge pipe once each season to make sure there are no blockages, clogs, cracks, or problems that might reduce its ability to remove water from your home. However, if you don’t have time to do that, you should always check it before the wettest part of the year. It’s much easier to deal with an issue while the sun is shining, after all.
Clearing the Sump Pit
Ideally, you should do this more than once a year, but again, it is most important that you make sure debris is cleared from your pit before the rainy season arrives to ensure your home is dry.
Checking the Pump for Blockages
You should check your discharge line, pit, and pump for blockages and debris buildup at the same time. Not only does it make sense to do it all at once, but there’s no point in clearing your discharge line only to have the pump push debris and dirt in to block it.
Inspecting Power Sources
While testing batteries you should ensure your sump pump is receiving power at that the wiring and switch are properly connected. If you don’t know how to do this or you think there is an issue, we recommend you call a professional.
If you undertake these simple tasks regularly, you will notice a dramatic decrease in issues with your sump pump.
Also Seek Professional Maintenance Assistance
Scheduling regular maintenance and repair with Foundation Recovery Systems may seem unnecessary, but it will actually save you time and money in the long run. You see, as well as completing all of the above tasks, our technicians will also:
Service Your Dehumidifier
While we check your sump pump, our team will also check, clean, and replace your dehumidifier filters (if needed) as well as the interior parts of your dehumidifier to ensure optimal performance.
Maintain Your Crawl Space Liner
If you have a CrawlSeal™ vapor barrier in your crawl space, we will perform some checks to ensure the liner is still intact and doing its job. We’ll also check any other waterproofing components while we’re down there.
Check for Other Problems
While we inspect your sump pump, pit, discharge line, crawl space liner, and dehumidifier, we will be on the lookout for warning signs and red flags. If we notice any signs of dampness, mold, or structural instability, we will inform you immediately and suggest repairs.
Every appliance has a lifespan, so we will suggest upgrades for appliances that are beginning to degrade as a result of age. It’s up to you whether you follow these suggestions of course, but we will always let you know when we see issues on the horizon.
You see, when you book a sump pump servicing with us, you get a whole-basement inspection to go with it. You’ll never be caught by dampness, mold, or foundational issues because our team will alert you to all warning signs immediately. Better yet, all our sump pumps come with a lifetime warranty, so if you take us up on that upgrade, you can kick back and relax. We guarantee:
- Efficient and effective installation
- Regular maintenance
- Flooding protection
- Quick repairs
Why not contact us today to book your sump pump maintenance? Alternatively, if you think there are issues that need to be addressed in your home, you can book a free inspection appointment to get the low down on your home’s health. We’re happy to serve central Missouri, eastern Kansas and Iowa, including Kansas City, St. Louis, Des Moines, Columbia, Moberly, and Springfield.