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Sump Pump 101: Common Problems & Maintenance Tips for Homeowners

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sump pump care and maintenance

Cases of basement water damage are common during spring and summer. That’s normal as these seasons are typically marked by heavy downpours and storms. Thawing winter snow saturates the soil, and when the rains start falling, the soil can’t absorb any more water into the ground. So, the excess water ends up flowing on the surface. Some water ends up in rivers, other drainage systems, and other yards.

Why Should You Maintain the Sump Pump?

When heavy rains hammer neighborhoods across Colorado Springs, CO, the last thing you want is a dead sump pump. Your only hope against flooding is a functional pump, as it will move out water fast and prevent water damage.

Timely sump pump maintenance is the key to creating a dry basement. In fact, it’s the only thing that stands between you and a flooded basement. For this reason, you should take good care of it.

Your sump pump has a lifespan of around 10 years. If you use it regularly, it’s good that you check its condition and ensure the pump operates smoothly. Otherwise, it may break down and leave your basement exposed during rough weather.

Basement repairs can be expensive. And even if you do repairs, your basement may never get back to its original state. Why wait for flood water to damage the basement when you can prevent flooding by keeping your pump in good shape?

Signs of a Faulty Sump Pump

If your sump pump isn’t operating at all or not functioning as expected, the cause could be a mechanical problem, faulty wiring, or even clogged discharge line. Be sure to look out for the following signs:

  • Irregular cycling — If your pump keeps cycling on and off, even in wet conditions, something is wrong. It could be an incorrectly adjusted float switch that’s making the pump actuate when a little water enters the sump pit. Wiring malfunctions could be the other reason. If the pump starts and stops abruptly, a short in the electrical system could be the issue.
  • Unusual noises — Mechanical sounds coming from your sump pump could be an indication of worn or damaged parts. If the motor noise is excessive, chances are the bearing has failed. Rattling sounds or grinding noises may mean a jammed impeller.
  • Excessive vibration when running — If the pump shakes excessively when on, it could wobble and fall on its side. Your biggest worry should be the hard debris that could have been sucked in as it could damage or bend the impeller.
  • Visible rust — A brownish substance can form on corroded battery terminals. Rust feeds off iron in water, causing discoloration. In some cases, a gel-like substance can clog the sump pump and the plumbing.
  • Motor failure — In most cases, the fault arises from internal wiring failure. If the pump is getting power but still not working, the problem could be an internal electrical problem. Make sure the pump is plugged in properly before you investigate other issues.
  • Pump runs continuously but doesn’t eject water — It’s possible the pump doesn’t have enough horsepower to handle a large volume of water or move it out for a certain distance. Correct pump sizing can resolve this issue. Your plumber or basement waterproofing professional who installed the system will look at pipe diameters, reservoir dimensions, and plumbing pathways as well as elbows.

In most cases, fixes are simple and revolve around discharge, electrical connection, water intake, and switch mechanisms.

Sump Pump Care Tips

While not every home has a basement, those that do require extra care and attention. Regular maintenance can avert water issues and emergency plumbing situations. Here are useful tips to keep your basement sump pump healthy and operational.

Be sure to pour water into the sump pit to test your sump pump. Anytime you do this, your pump should come on, eject the water, and shut off shortly thereafter. Get rid of dirt, sand, grease, gravel, and debris by cleaning your pump. Regular cleaning will boost the pump’s efficiency.

Get a battery-powered backup pump in case the main sump pump fails due to mechanical defects or power outages. Also, replace worn-out parts of the sump pump. Your local technician should guide you.

Here are additional recommendations that might help you keep the sump pump operational for many years:

  • Unplug the primary pump and test the backup pump to ensure it is functioning properly.
  • Check the float switch to make sure it’s not restricted.
  • Clean the air holes in the pump’s discharge line.
  • Listen for unusual noise when the motor is on.
  • Replace the battery on the backup device every 2-3 years.

Basement experts at Complete Basement Systems can help you stay on top of sump pump maintenance with periodic checks and tests. Request a free sump pump inspection and quote and find out teething problems that could render your pump ineffective during a flood, as well as learn more about reliable basement waterproofing solutions.

Serving Greater Denver area, Colorado Springs, Eastern Colorado, and parts of Nebraska and Wyoming

Colorado Springs, CO

707 County Line Rd.
Palmer Lake, CO 80133

Denver, CO

4686 Ivy St
Denver, CO 80216