Sump Pumps 101 - Resource for Homeowners and Contractors

Sump Pump Service
• Annual inspection by a professional contractor may head off problems, but there are some steps you can take yourself to keep your pump working.
• Make sure debris can’t get into the pump area and clog the works or get tangled in the float. It’s a good idea to keep a solid cover over the pit.
• Unplug your sump pump periodically and check the bottom for sludge or debris. Make sure the float assembly can move freely.
• Pay attention to odd noises. They’re one of the first clues that something is amiss.
• Prevent air lock by making sure the vent hole in the discharge pipe is clear. Check to see that the float switch moves freely. Some that are tethered to the pump by a cable can get tangled.
• Sump pumps are made to be used, so test the pump every few months, especially if there has been a long dry spell. Contractors suggest using a hose or bucket to slowly pour five to 10 gallons of water into the pit. If the pump doesn’t kick on, have it checked.
• Check outside to see that water is actually being discharged. You might hear the pump running, but a blockage could prevent water from getting out.
• Learn how to check the valves. Some keep the water pressure set properly and help save on wear and tear.
• Others are one-way valves on your pump that keep water from backing up.
• Backup systems need maintenance, too. Contractors suggest that you check the battery every three to four months to make sure it’s charged. Whether it has been used or not, the battery should be replaced every two or three years.
As featured in The Washington Post on August 9, 2008, article authored by Ann Cameron Siegal.

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