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Flood Prevention: Troubleshooting Your Sump Pump

Monday, May 1st


Don't wait until the next storm to make sure your sump pump is in good working order!

There’s nothing more comforting than knowing there’s a sump pump in the basement, ready at a moment’s notice to start bailing you out. Whether the water intrusion in your basement comes from sudden plumbing leaks, flash floods or water seepage, your sump pump is a critical element in keeping your basement dry and your house comfortable.

Basement Flooding is Not Fun

A flooded basement is no fun: make sure your sump pump can handle 1" or 12" of flooding.

But don’t relax too much! There are pit falls in having a sump pit and problems can happen just when you need your sump pump most. Prevent flooding in your basement long before the next storm by regularly using this checklist. If your sump pump is starting to fail, use this checklist to troubleshoot the source of the problem.

Tips to Detect and Prevent Sump Pump Failures

Eliminate Sump Pump Clogs

  • Make sure the sump is sitting on a pedestal and not directly on the bottom of the sump pit.
  • Keep your sump pump in a sump container with a tight lid. This will not only prevent clogs but makes your basement safer for children and pets.

Check the Floating Switch

  • Check the floating switch, which is responsible for the on/off cycles of the pump, is free and clear. In cheaper models, it can get tangled or the pump’s vibrations can knock it against a side wall.

Make Sure the Discharge Line is Free and Clear

  • To make sure water can be pumped out of the basement, keep the discharge line clear with grates at the end of the pipe. That will keep small animals out as well.
  • Add an attachment (see photo) at the point where the pipe exits the basement to keep water flowing out and away.

Examine the Check Valve

  • This valve prevents water from backflowing into the basement. When backflow happens, your pump will run non-stop and can eventually burn out. Replace if broken.

Ensure the Power Supply

  • A sump pump needs power to do its job. When a storm brings a power outage along with torrents of rain, what’s your plan? Some options: install a water alarm or battery-powered backup.
  • By checking your pump regularly, you can make sure it hasn’t been accidentally unplugged (and not plugged back in) or that the circuit breakers haven’t been tripped. Just don’t forget!

Make Sure Your Sump Pump is Big Enough

  • Your sump pit should be big enough to handle the maximum amount of water your basement could experience. A sump that is too small for the volume of water will cause the pump to run beyond its capacity and could burn out.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" was Benjamin Franklin's advice on fire fighting but it hold true for basement flooding as well!

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