For homeowners with a history of water in their basement, there’s no doubt they’re very familiar with the sump pump. In a storm situation, the sump pump is often the last line of defense between you and a whole lot of water in your home. So why wouldn’t we go out of our way to keep it in top shape?
Well, the sump pump is certainly easy to overlook amidst all the hustle and bustle of home ownership, but taking proper care of it can really save you in a pinch. Here are 5 ways to ensure your basement or crawl space sump pump is at its best:
- Ensure the Sump Basin Lid is Properly Sealed. It is really common to see sump basin lids come loose and expose the sump pump to the rest of the basement. Not only can this expose your living area to excess moisture and mustiness, but it becomes a potential “trash can.” Dryer lint, clothes, toys, and many other common basement items can easily fall into the sump basin, potentially causing an obstruction or clog.
- Manually Test the Float Switch. The float switch is the electronic “trigger” that tells the pump motor whether or not to start pumping water out of the sump basin. This float switch comes in a few different forms; vertical, tether, and electronic. You may prefer to test them with your hand or buckets of water.
- Vertical Switches: The vertical switch is attached to the side of the sump pump. To activate it manually, simply reach your hand into the sump basin and press up on the switch until the pump engages.
- Tether Switches: The classic “float switch on a string.” More common in older pump configurations you may test this float by simply lifting it up and turning it upside down.
- Electronic Switches: These technologically advances switches consist of a tall, flat rubber-coated panel that senses water on its surface. To engage the pump, pour some water directly onto the sensor.
- Tie Cords Up to Prevent Tangling. Pump cords getting caught up on the float switch is a very common and very preventable condition. Use wire or zip ties to bind the pump cords together. Additionally, you may tie them tight up against the discharge line to tighten the slack and keep cords from bunching up within the sump basin.
- Keep Pump and Basin. We recommend periodically rinsing the basin interior and pump with a decalcifier or bleach solution mixed with hot water. If necessary, scrub with a firm vinyl brush to remove buildup; repeat as needed.
- Back it Up! One of the best ways to ensure your home has an fully operational sump pump in a time of great need, is to invest in a battery operated backup pump. Backup pumps are great because they can run in any situation; power failure, primary pump failure, or simply when the main pump can’t keep up.