Simple Steps For Maintaining a Sump Pump https://t.co/0KknyvEq15
— Sump Pump Advisor (@bestsumppump) August 10, 2016
August 11, 2016 at 12:35AM
Sump pumps malfunction due to two primary reasons – falling into disuse due to long periods of inactivity and suffering from clogging and damage due to debris. Further, even if the pump itself does not malfunction, the stagnant water in a sump can lead to the growth of insects and worms, thereby undermining the overall hygiene of your basement. To avoid these, it is important to know how to maintain a sump pump. The good news is that if you know how to use a sump pump, maintenance is an incredibly simple procedure.
Preparing the Sump Pump for maintenance:
Before you learn how to maintain a sump pump, it is vital that you make it for maintenance. Please note that maintenance should not be carried out if there is a chance of the pump being used within two hours of the maintenance being completed. Hence, sunny days when chances of rain or snow are minimal are ideal for carrying out much-needed maintenance.
To prepare the sump pump:
Switch off the power supply in case of a primary sump pump. Remove the water or battery connectors in the event of backup sump pumps. In the case of water-driven backup sump pumps, allow the sump pump to remain at rest for about 15 minutes. Remove the sump cover and use a flashlight to see if there are any snakes/insects in the sump. Unscrew the check valve that connects the PVC pipe to the discharge. If there are multiple check valves, begin with those farthest from the sump pump and move towards the sump pump. Keep a bucket ready before unscrewing the last valve as some water may fall out. Following the reverse of what you did while installing the sump pump, remove the sump pump from the sump. Some water will come out along with the sump pump.
If you have an another sump pump installed, ensure that removal of the sump pump does not disturb the float switch or any other trigger mechanism that the other pump may have. Indeed, it would be a good idea to pour some water quickly into the sump and reconnecting the power source of the backup pump, see if the sump pump is working well. If it is, replace the sump cover and take the sump pump you wish to perform maintenance upon to a nearby table.
Before learning how to keep a sump pump, there is one final task to be completed – put on a pair of goggles and a pair of gloves, as these would be needed to protect your eyes and hands from any dangerous debris or insects that may still be present in the discharge of the sump pump. Inspect, the exterior of the sump, pump carefully before looking through the release with a flashlight. Search for signs of damage (dents, peeled off paint, etc.), blockages or debris presence and build-up of insect cocoons or rust. Wipe all possible surfaces of the sump pump thoroughly using a piece of cloth. Once they are all dry, wipe the surfaces with a dry cloth dipped in petroleum jelly or kerosene oil. Most dirt and insect matter should be removed in this step.
If there is rusting, rub the surface with sandpaper till the rust has been removed. Most of the best sump pumps would not have exposed bearings or rivets. In case your sump pump is old or follows a design that requires such exposure of vital connecting parts to water, the chances of rusting of such parts is increased manifold. If some parts are rusted to the point of becoming brittle and weak, it is not a good idea to continue with them. Dispose them and replace with new parts so you don’t have to repeat the steps in this how to maintain a sump pump guide again at short notice. If oiling/greasing of any parts is required, follow manufacturer’s instructions regarding the oiling process. The user manual should also contain the time intervals at which oiling should be carried out. If the time span is less than six months, you should perform maintenance at each oiling interval.
Once these steps are completed, you may run into one of the common sump pump issues – a slightly dislocated float. To avoid having to fix the float within the sump, take a bucket of water and place the sump pump inside it before connecting to the power source/water source. Note that because you haven’t connected a pipe to the discharge the water in the bucket won’t be drained, but the overall effect should prove whether the pump is working or not. If the float is dislocated, the functioning would be impaired. Take out the pump, fix the float by moving it gently upwards or downwards and then test again.
Post-Maintenance Checking Processes:
Replace the sump pump in the sump and reconnect the check valve and then power connection. Reconnect any other valve/pipe connectors that you may have removed. Now disconnect the power connection of any other sump pump that may be present in the same sump. Empty a bucket of water into the sump such that the float switch is completely submerged.
Ask someone to turn on the power/water connection when asked. Go outside to where the sump pump outlet is. When the person turns on the power/water supply, carefully watch how the water present in the sump is drained out. If there is any coughing or spluttering involved, you should have the sump pump turned off, take apart the final section of the PVC discharge tube and see if any problems or blockages exist.
Reconnect and Retest:
When all processes have been run without any problems, it is safe to carry out the last step of how to maintain a sump pump – checking and cleaning the sump cover and replacing it on the sump.
Sump pumps are extremely sturdy warhorses and on the outside, have precious little that the user is supposed to or can do. Given that you must never dismantle a sump pump without supervision or proper expert skills, we can say that maintenance is by its very nature a simple and short process. However, given the importance of draining your basement and the difficulties of repairing a severely damaged sump pump, it makes good common sense to carry out regular maintenance. While there are companies that will provide trained personnel to carry out such maintenance, the answer to how to maintain a sump pump is simple enough for you to be able to conduct by combining an hour of your time with the steps we have outlined above.
Though they may be perfect in every other aspect, one area in which even best sump pumps fail is in delineating a clear standard operating procedure. Indeed, many assume that the user would do little more than complete the power connections and leave the rest to the experienced plumber. While of course plumbing professionals can be consulted, the aim of our guides is to provide you with a complete education regarding sump pumps. As can be expected, such an education would be incomplete without a study of how to use a sump pump. For purposes of convenience, we have divided the guide into two parts according to the two types of sump pumps – primary and secondary.
Those who have followed our how to install a sump pump guide would know that the ideal positioning of a sump pump is such that it sits at the lowest part of the basement and at the same time, is not too far from a power source. We say power source because while backup sump pumps come with the battery or water-powered mechanisms, primary sump pumps almost always rely on a stable source of electricity. Once this – and the ability of the sump pump to function properly in the sump –have been checked, it is time to apply the sump pump to actual water drainage. Sump pumps can only work if the water is flowing into the sump. Normally, a trickling and then gurgling sound from the sump is sufficient indication of the sump filling up with water.
As the sump fills up, use a flashlight to peer through the transparent sump cover (if you have a transparent one) to see if rocks and pebbles are floating around in the sump. If there are large pieces of debris floating around, the discharge of the sump pump may find itself jammed, leading to the breakdown of the sump pump and waterlogging. While it is not advisable to remove the sealed sump cover, in extreme cases you may have to remove the cover and remove some debris from the sump to ensure smooth functioning of the sump pump. Once the influx water levels out you may want to inspect the inlet to avoid the recurrence of such debris flux.
As the water rises, it triggers the float (or alternative water level measurement tool), thereby triggering the sump pump. Most modern sump pumps have a mechanism through which they can modify their pumping speed depending on the speed at which the sump fills up. Hence, while the sump may continue filling up initially, the water level should not rise once the sump pump is functioning properly. If the water level continues to rise, however, the sump pump may be encountering some hindrance (or may be malfunctioning) and you should start the backup sump pump if you have one.
As the sump pump pumps water, note whether it is moving smoothly through the pipes and out of the house. In case it is not (or there is any leakage), you should stop the sump pump for a few minutes by disconnecting the electric power supply. Adjust the pipes and valves. One of the common sump pump issues and solutions revolves around debris getting stuck at the bends of the pipe. Apart from regular checking, this issue can be avoided by adding water to the sump pump such that it pumps water faster and pushes the debris out of the blockade. In a few cases, the PVC pipe may have to be taken apart to remove the debris.
Once the sump, the pump, and the pipes are working well, it is time to observe the rate at which water falls. Note that this rate is proportional to the rate of precipitation, and the power of the sump pump and so will vary from season to season. Further, as the level falls, it may go beyond the minimal float-activating level and cause the sump pump to shut down for a short while before starting up again. In such circumstances, one must not panic and try to launch the pump artificially by adding additional water or making electrical changes. Once the water level has stopped rising to the float level, the sump pump will shut down and remain dormant thereon.
Among the worst nightmares for anyone is being stranded in a thunderstorm without electricity. Even if you know how to use a sump pump well, you’ll be left at sea in such situations because no power is available for the pump to run on. Many users, therefore, prefer to install a second, smaller sump pump that uses water or batteries to power itself. This is no place to discuss the Primary vs. Backup sump pump debate; it should be noted that while water-powered sump pumps often run alongside the primary ones and are activated by water flow like primary sump pumps, battery powered sump pumps are somewhat different.
1. Battery powered sump pumps require that before functioning, the batteries of the backup pump be well charged. If you find yourself in a situation where the batteries of the sump pump are malfunctioning or are not fully charged, you can replace them with other similar charged batteries.
2. Most modern battery powered sump pumps have automatic switches, but unlike other types, these can be controlled to a far greater extent. Indeed, if you so desire, some sump pumps will let you switch off the sump pump without disconnecting the power supply to the batteries. You should stop such functioning if:
There are large amounts of debris in the sump.
The sump pump speed is erratic.
The primary sump pump resumes working, and the two interfere with each other’s work.
The sump pump is not discharging water properly
The sump pump battery indicators have turned red, and the sump pump is spluttering/odd noises are being heard.
3. Resume the working of the backup sump pump when issues have been satisfactorily solved and the sump pump is working normally again. Sometimes hasty modification can cause the switch float mechanism to suffer, so make sure before resuming pumping that the float is free and is not hindered by any debris.
4. If the backup sump pump has to run for a long time, ensure that there are charged, or semi-charged alternatives around as running on a nearly empty battery can cause the lifespan of the implement to suffer. Change the batteries as soon as the existing one nears the end of its charge cycle.
5. While learning how to use a sump pump, some users tend to leave the battery backup sump pumps on all day. In exceptional circumstances this may be justified, but if say there is a small trickle of water and the sump pump is forced to go through endless on/off cycles to handle it through the night, its viability will be compromised given that a sump pump can only go through a finite number of start/stop cycles. Further, repeated changes in functional status put greater pressure on the battery, which will heat up and in extreme cases, can be severely damaged as well. Hence, unless necessary, do not use backup sump pumps more than is necessary, while you can keep the primary “on” for its entire lifespan.
As the above study on how to use a sump pump shows, one of the main differences which divide sump pumps from other household appliances is the mostly automatic functioning. However, unless you wish to find yourself doing repeated rounds of the service centers, you may want to learn how to use a sump pump in detail, especially in conditions when one or more factors are causing the sump pump to slow down or not function at all. These tips we suggest here will surely help you obtain maximum value from your sump pump, and also reduce the chances of your or your home circuitry suffering damage due to poor functioning of the sump pumps.
While sump pumps aren’t the most costly of appliances that may be sitting in your basement and you can minimize the actual cost by getting a value for money product using our ultimate comparison chart for sump pumps, it is hard to deny that sump pumps are an added expense. Any added investment needs a justification, and sadly, the salespersons explaining the benefits of using a sump pump on TV are pandering more to their products than to a better understanding of the product’s usage. To help you make a right decision regarding buying sump pumps based on your needs, we have compiled a list of most common benefits of using one in your basement.
Prevents Damping and Peeling Of Paint
One of the primary advantages of using a sump pump is that it allows all the water present in the soil/rock immediately below the basement to collect in a corner of the basement, usually at the lowest point. This water is then removed from the cellar, thus preventing it from creating damp areas within the basement. Such removal is immediate and automatic due to the switch-activation method of modern sump pumps. Hence, whenever the water level rises in the basement and hence in the sump, the pump automatically clears the basement of accumulated water. Besides, if the water is allowed to remain, it can seep into the walls of the basement and cause paint to peel off. In severe cases, cement and mortar can peel off as well, leading to the bricks being exposed. Such damage can be hard to repair, as the damp spots that caused such peeling remain, and return with a vengeance during monsoon periods.
Prevent Growth Of Algae
As in a pond, the build-up of water on the surface of the basement can lead to the growth of algae. Such algae can rapidly proliferate and create various hazards. The most common risk is related to the algae making the floor rather slippery, thereby causing injuries to unsuspecting people.
Secondly, the growth of algae can lead to the proliferation of insects that thrive in wet aquatic environments. This leads to problems of hygiene and in severe cases, may result in the basement becoming unusable. Furthermore, since the water readily absorbs pesticides, use of these to remove the insects can contaminate the groundwater via percolation to the underground reservoirs, leading to long-term problems.
Lastly, algae themselves produce various toxins that can harm small animals. Further, pets might consume algae and become ill. These, in turn, can create emotional costs of not using the best sump pumps to keep the basement free of water.
Protects Foundations Of The Buildings
Water present below the buildings is not necessarily static. In many cases, the water, even in dry seasons, is being pushed up by the pressure of the rocks, or by the increase in water table due to the inflow of water from other areas. The constant rise in the water table can lead to water pushing through the otherwise water resistant concrete, eventually breaking through and flooding the basement.
In more serious situations, the pillars that form the foundations of the house can be weakened if the constant pressure causes water to push through to the iron rods that hold the concrete together. Rusting of any rods can mean a severe weakening of the overall stability of the house. Since much of this goes on out of plain eyesight, it is possible that homes with no sump pumps or those bought without consulting the list of the main features of the best sump pump and hence of dubious efficacy are slowly being weakened to the point of collapse.
Safety, Minimum Noise Level, and Low Maintenance
Even when many people accept the above benefits of a sump pump, they refuse to go in for one, choosing cheaper and problematic solutions instead. It cannot be denied that there are alternatives to the sump pump, but the question essentially is whether they are capable of offering alternatives that are capable of replacing the benefits of using a sump pump. One of the primary advantages of the sump pump over other machines is that it is safe to operate, even by children. Since it sits on the sump and the basic sump pump maintenance steps involve nothing more than using a flashlight to see if there are any clogging or jamming problems involved, there is virtually no need of using sophisticated hardware or accessing running motors, etc. when working with sump pumps.
Secondly, the sump pumps, being inside the sump, make a little noise and do not disturb pets and any people who may be present in the basement at the time. Further, elderly and people with poor sleep are benefitted because the sump pump turns on and off automatically without needing anyone to start it up. Lastly, it has been found that sump pumps, in general, require little maintenance, and if the good sump pump is chosen, even less so. This is because the sump pump has relatively few parts, and most of the vital ones are placed inside a durable metal chamber, hermetically sealed from outside. Even when there is massive water pressure (provided there is no significant debris influx), the sump pump can hold its own and ensure that no in-session maintenance is needed.
Much as we might favor sump pumps, it cannot be said that they are required in arid or dry areas, as the utility of a sump pump in a low water table area with little rain would be minimal. However, it has to be admitted that most of the states suffer from a right amount of rain, and this can lead to major problems as noted above. Even when there is no visible sign of water damage, the foundations of the house may be weakening, putting your loved ones in great danger. Compared to the risks involved in not installing a sump pump, the benefits of using a sump pump do suggest that for a majority of people living in their homes or apartment blocks, the decision to buy a sump pump is a profitable one both immediately and in the long run.