How To Maintain Your Sump-Pump

floodedIf your home has a wet basement, you’re not alone. The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates that more than 60 percent of homes have issues with water in the basement. A sump pump can be an effective option for preventing water damage. Installed in a pit in the basement, these units sense when the water from rain or snowmelt is rising in the pit and approaching the floor level. The incoming water is then pumped outside before it can damage the home or its furnishings. Sump pumps are relatively low-maintenance devices, but you can help keep your unit operational by inspecting it regularly. Steps in a regular maintenance program can include:
• Checking the discharge line to make sure it is not stopped up or frozen. If necessary, unclog the air vent hole in the line.
• Checking the inlet screen to ensure that it’s not clogged with residue and debris. Do this three or four times per year.
• Making sure the float component is unobstructed and can move smoothly.
• Scanning the pit and removing any visible debris, mud, or stones.
• Testing the pump by slowly pouring a bucket of water into the pit. The float should rise with the water level, triggering the unit to start pumping. If pumping doesn’t begin, check to see that the unit is plugged in. Your float switch or check valve might also be at fault.
• Going outside to see that water is discharging and flowing where it’s supposed to go – well away from your home.

Once a year, disconnect the pump from the power source and remove the unit. Flush it thoroughly with water to remove impurities and debris. While you have the pump out, also clean debris from the sump pit. Reinstall the pump and reconnect the power source. Test the unit by pouring a bucket of water into the pit and making sure the pump starts.
If your unit has backup battery power, replace the battery every two to three years, or as directed by the manufacturer.
Always refer to your pump’s instruction manual for specific information about maintenance and operation. More information about sump pumps is available from the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association.

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