For anyone who’s ever experienced a basement flooding, sump pumps can feel like the greatest invention since the indoor toilet. The way these wonderful devices work is fairly straightforward: professionals dig a hole at the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace where the sump pump is placed. Pipes are connected to the pump so that excess water can be rerouted away from your home as it fills the hole where your sump pump is located. Once the water levels are high enough, the sump pump’s pressure sensor or float activator turns the device’s motor on, which powers an impeller – a fan-like device – that pushes the water out through the connected pipes.
But what happens if your sump pump starts to fail? It’s important to get it back up and running in order to keep your house dry and your home’s foundation sturdy, because one bad flood can cause tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of damage. There are several ways that your sump pump can fail, so we’ve outlined a few of the more common ways here:
- Power Outage: By far the most common reason a sum pump can fail is by your power failing. Most sump pumps have a backup generator that you can manually activate, which is especially useful if your power fails during a storm, as that’s the most likely time for a flood. This issue should resolve itself when the electric company fixes the outage.
- Electrical Failure: Some components of the sump pump can be vulnerable to power surges, common events during a lightning storm that knocks out your power. The backup generator won’t be able to cover this issue, so the best way to protect your sump pump from an electrical failure is to protect it with a service entrance surge protection device.
- Mechanical Failure: The most common mechanical failure in sump pumps are switch problems. If your sump pump shifts around while it’s in the pit, the float activator can be rendered ineffective. If the float can’t properly activate the on/off switch, then the sump pump won’t be able to turn on, no matter how much water is in your basement.
- Maintenance Issues: Do you know the last time you serviced your sump pump? Some manufacturers recommend you run your pump every two to three months, while others recommend that you complete a yearly program just before the rainy season starts. Almost all manufacturers recommend that you go outside while testing your sump pump to make sure the pipe connected to it is properly discharging water, that you disconnect your primary pump in order to run the backup sump pump if you have one, and that you replace the battery on the backup sump pump every few years. Depending on who manufactured your sump pump, you may have different instructions, so it’s important to pay close attention to the manual.
- Clogged or Frozen Pipes: Even if your sump pump is working perfectly, if the pipes that discharge the water a safe distance from your home isn’t working properly the pump won’t be able to do its job. Protecting the end of the pipe with a grated cover will protect it from animals and debris, which can go a long way to preventing it from becoming clogged. The cover won’t be able to protect the pipe from freezing though; for that, you’ll want to attach a special grated discharge line near your home. It will allow water to flow out of the pipe in case there’s a blockage further down.
Sump pumps are vital parts to any basement or crawlspace that’s at risk for flooding. Whenever you install or need to fix a sump pump, you’ll want to call in the professionals to ensure everything is done properly. At bluefrog Plumbing + Drain, our teams are ready to serve customers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days of the year with zero overtime charges. Find your local bluefrog Plumbing + Drain through our website, or give us a call at 888-794-0341 to set up your free home consultation.