If you’ve been woken up in the night during a rainstorm to hear a loud mechanical pumping noise followed by the whoosh of water, what you’ve heard is your home’s sump pump.
While we may be tempted to ignore anything that’s tucked away in our basements or crawl space, your sump pump is an important piece of your home’s equipment, that when working properly, keeps your basement dry. And if you’ve ever had a basement flood from a failed sump pump, you know why you should pay attention to this water removal king.
A sump pump removes accumulated water from your home’s water-collecting sump pit. Usually in the basement or crawl space of homes. The water usually seeps in via your basement’s waterproofing system, channeling into the sump pit or from of rain or natural ground water if the basement is below the water table level.
You’ll find sump pumps (yes, some homes have more than one) in homes that are at risk of basement flooding. The sump pump’s job is to send the water out of the sump pit in the basement and away from the home to a place where water is welcome--perhaps a municipal storm drain or a dry well.
Your home’s sump pump is likely hardwired into your home's electrical system. And for this reason, may have a battery backup in the event of a power outage. Since a sump pit could overflow and cause a basement flood if not constantly pumped, a backup system is important for times when the main power is out for continued periods of time--like torrential rains or a severe storm.
A pedestal sump pump in a sump pit
Your home’s sump pump will be one of these two types: pedestal or submersible. With a pedestal sump pump, the motor is mounted above the sump—so service pros can easily reach it. The submersible pump, as you might guess, is mounted completely inside the sump, and then sealed to prevent electrical short circuits.
A submersible sump pump drains water from sump pit
You’ll want to keep your sump pump working efficiently to avoid costly basement flooding from a failed or clogged sump pump. The Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturer’s Association (SSPMA) recommends the following maintenance frequency:
Monthly: if your sump pump moves water from a washing machine. Each month you’ll clean the pump screen or inlet. Remember to unplug it before cleaning and plug it back in after to avoid a basement flood!
Quarterly: if your sump pump doesn’t dispose of washing machine water. Then you can clean the sump pump screen or inlet opening every 3 to 4 months.
Annually: Once a year, you’ll remove the sump pump from the sump pit and clean both the pump and pit.
You’re servicing your sump pump regularly right? If you hear the sound of your sump pump alarm, or notice water spilling over from the sump pit, you may have a failed sump pump on your hands. If your power is out and your sump pump doesn’t have a back-up battery, be sure to check on the water levels in the sump pit regularly to avoid a basement flood. Especially if your home is in an area prone to flooding or during excessive rain.
To keep your sump pump happily swimming above the water table, service it regularly yourself or seek the advice of a local sump pump expert.
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