Sump Pump Maintenance Tips
Based on our data from the last 5 years, historically we see a spike in sump pump purchases each Spring. We don’t want any water in places it shouldn't be… especially your basement. Make sure your pumps are working properly before any flooding happens. Below, we have included some ideas for you to check out when it comes to maintaining your sump pumps.
Testing your Sump Pump
There are a few things we suggest you check before a 100-year storm hits (which seem to happen much more frequently than every 100 years). First, if you have a pump with a float switch, make sure it is in working order by gently pulling up on it to trigger your pump to start. This can be done by simply lifting the float or using a stick to do the same. Does it work? Great! If not, then you need to check if it is the pump or level switch that is bad. If your system has a piggy-back plug, unplug the switch and plug the pump directly into the wall. If the pump works then you know it is a bad level switch. But that’s only half the battle. Batteries for backup pumps typically only hold 100% of their battery capacity for 3-5 years and then start to diminish. If your battery is several years old, it might work initially but not last the entire storm. Some backup batteries are “wet” and require distilled water to be added, while other newer types are “gel” based and do not require maintenance. Some backup emergency pumps won’t have a battery. These are called water-powered pumps that work off household city water pressure. The benefit of these is that they do not require electricity.
Checking your Battery
Some backup batteries for Sump Pumps are called “wet/acid” batteries, meaning they have water and sulfuric acid in them. Water needs to be checked in each of the cells of the battery by making sure the water level is correct. See the link here for full directions on how to check and fill your battery correctly.
There are also Gel (Maintenance Free) Deep Cycle Batteries. Luckily for you, PumpBiz carries both types of batteries for all brands of back-up pumps. Some emergency back-up sump pumps can work with two batteries for twice the protection.
Our Suggested Sump Pump Set-Up (The Benefit of the Piggy-back Plug)
We at PumpBiz suggest buying a sump pump with a piggy-back plug. This means that there are two cords coming out of your sump pump pit and plugged into the wall. The first plug (the one plugged directly into the wall) is connected to your float switch. The one behind it is the power cord to your pump. Why do we suggest this? Float Switches and Sump Pumps don’t always deteriorate at the same pace. It is much more cost-effective to replace one or the other if it gives out rather than the entire setup. It is usually the float switch to go bad and it is easier and less costly to just replace the switch. To test the functionality of the pump itself, plug it directly into the outlet without the float switch plug in between. If it is time to replace/upgrade your sump pump system, consider a Combo setup. In this system, the two pumps are factory connected/plumbed and there is a simple single pipe connection. 15 minutes and you are done.
Bigger is not always better
The standard sump pump discharge pipe from your home has a diameter of 1 ½ inches. This type of pipe can only handle 40-50 gallons per minute maximum (lower in many circumstances), so any pump that moves more water (bigger pump) than that might be excessive since the pipe won’t be able to handle it. Also, if a pump can empty the pit significantly faster than the pit fills up with water, it will cycle between the on/off stages and cause burn out of the pump or float switch more quickly than if your pump removed water at a more consistent pace.
Last Things to Note
PumpBiz also sells Wi-Fi enabled float switch modules for your sump pump, so if you are not home when the pump alarm goes off, you will still be notified of the issue via text or email so that you can make sure you are able to remedy the situation as quickly as possible.
It doesn’t hurt to have a Back-Up Pump in your sump pit as well. This will ensure that you have a complete solution when unexpected problems arise. If your primary pump stops working for some reason when you still have main power, or it cannot keep up with the water filling up your pit, or you lose power, a Back-Up Pump will be your best friend.
Finally, make sure the discharge hose that runs from your house to your yard is not clogged. In cold weather, it is not uncommon for this hose to freeze if the water is not draining correctly.