Preventing Sump Pump Failure

If you have made the investment in a sump pump to protect your basement from floods, you expect it to work when you need it.  Therefore, the best way to prevent sump pump failure is with prevention and maintenance.

There are several reasons why your sump pump may fail, and being prepared for these problems is key to preventing them. The most common cause of sump pump failure is a power outage. Sump pumps depend on your house for power.  Unfortunately, the storms that cause excess water and flooding are also responsible for blackouts and this is a problem.

To prepare for a blackout during a flood, you may want to install a a backup generator in your home.  However, a more affordable way to protect your sump pump is to purchase a sump pump battery backup that operates when your power is out. Don’t forget to make a note of when the battery is due for replacement!

Your sump pump may also fail due to improper installation. Your unit could be too big or small for your house, which makes your pump more prone to failure. Make sure that your pump is right for your home and for the amount of ground water it will need to pump. The right unit is determined by horsepower, not the size.  The horsepower requirement is determined by the area of drainage, depth of groundwater, depth of basement, and more.  A 1/3-hp pump is standard for most houses.  However, NRH Plumbing’s experts would be happy to help you properly size a sump pump to give you peace of mind.

Another reason for sump pump failure is a switch problem.  This is common because the float switch is the moving part that gets the most use on a sump pump and can wear out.  Sometimes the pump can also shift inside the basin. This causes the float that operates the switch to lodge against the side.  Debris around the float can also be a factor and can interfere with the action of the pump switch. It is important to inspect the pump switch and float-arm assembly a few times per year to ensure they move freely.

Maintenance is also key to preventing sump pump failure. If you haven’t heard your pump run recently, test it by pouring in about five gallons of water with bucket or a hose. When the water reaches a predetermined level, the pump should turn itself on, pump out most of the water then turn itself off again. If you have a backup pump, test the back up a few times each year to determine if it will work in the event of a blackout.

When testing your pump, make sure the discharge pipe is clear of debris.  Check that the pipe empties onto a down slope so water doesn’t flow back toward the house.  Make sure electrical cords are clear of the float switch.  Finally, remove any gravel in the sump pit and check that the screen that covers the sump pump’s water intake is clear of debris.

Whether you have a new construction or are upgrading your home with a new sump pump, NRH Plumbing can help to prevent flood damage. Call us at 612-900-7728 and NRH Plumbing’s skilled technicians can make sure you have the right protection for your home.