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DIY Sump Pump Maintenance - Sobieski
DIY Sump Pump Maintenance - Sobieski

The East Coast gets its fair share of rain and thunderstorms, which is why many homeowners have sump pumps installed. A sump pump prevents basement flooding by discharging water from under and around the home to a sewer drain outside.

When excess water gathers under the house or below the slab, it can cause structural foundation issues, cracks in the slab, and mold. If you’ve ever had standing water in your basement, speak with a professional plumber about installing a quality sump pump.

How Sump Pumps Work

The “sump” is a pit dug below the surface of the basement floor. The sump’s purpose is to collect water from outside sources that enters your home. Once the water in the sump rises to a certain level, the float valve triggers the pump to turn on. The water then passes through a drainpipe and exits at least 10 feet away from the home.

Battery Backups

In addition to your primary pump, which connects to your electrical system, we recommend having a 2nd batter-powered sump pump to take over if there is a power outage. At the very least, you will want your sump pump to have an alert system to indicate when it doesn’t have the necessary power to function. You battery-powered sump pump can mean the difference between water damage and a dry home.

DIY Sump Pump Maintenance

Preparing for storms and flooding can be a daunting task, but you can ease the tension by making sure your sump pump is working properly.

How often should I clean and test my sump pump?

Due to the importance of a working sump pump during heavy rains, it’s a good idea to clean and test your sump pump every three to four months.

Set sump pump maintenance calendar reminders every quarter: fall, winter, spring, and summer.

In some homes, the sump pump is used to discharge water from the washing machine. In this case, a monthly cleaning schedule is more appropriate. Depending on the frequency of use, you may benefit from more regular cleanings. Consult the owner’s manual for specific maintenance instructions and service schedules.

We highly recommend scheduling professional plumbing maintenance every year from a sump pump specialist. During your annual tune-up, make sure the technician fully inspects your sump pump. Annual professional sump pump maintenance will extend the pump’s lifespan and ensure it’s working when you need it.

For professional sump pump service in DE, MD, PA, and NJ, contact the certified sump pump experts at Sobieski. We will inspect the pit, the check valve, the backup power source, the alarm, the removable cover, and the discharge location to make sure excess ground or rainwater isn’t getting in your home.

How to Clean Your Sump Pump

If there is debris in the sump or drain line, water can have a hard time escaping. You can help prevent and clear clogged sump pumps with a little DIY cleaning every three to four months.
  1. Unplug the sump pump from the outlet. Also, turn power off at the electrical panel.
  2. Go outside and look for the end of the sump pump drainpipe. It’s usually leading away from the house, near a storm drain or hard downslope.
  3. Remove the screen at the end of the pipe (if there is one). Clean the screen and the area around the end of the pipe.
  4. Look for any obvious blockages and remove them. Replace the clean screen.
  5. If the exit pipe is too close to the foundation, water will just reenter the home. You can install flexible hoses to help move water farther away from the house. We recommend keeping multiple hoses on hand so you can replace it if it happens to freeze.
  1. Go back inside and remove the sump pump cover.
  2. You can clean out the water at the bottom of the sump with a wet-dry vacuum or scoop it out by hand into a bucket.
  3. Clean out any debris from the sump pump pit. Make sure there is nothing blocking the inlet opening.
  4. Consult the owner’s manual for instructions on removing the pump. Never pull the pump by its power cord or float switch.

How to Test Your Sump Pump

  1. Turn power back on at the breaker. Plug the sump pump back in.
  2. Pour 5 gallons of water into your sump pump pit.
  3. Once the water rises to about 8 inches, the pump should kick automatically and begin discharging water outside.
  4. Go outside to make sure water exits in the correct location.

Check if water is discharging properly

Make sure your sump pump is not discharging water into the septic system. It should be connected to the storm sewage system. Keep in mind that some areas of the country may allow you to discharge water into the sanitary sewage system, but check with local officials first. To be safe, discharge water into the storm drain, not the sewer drain (or a dry well).

The water should not be draining near your house, but rather onto a hard surface tilted away from the foundation. You can use flexible hose to carry the water closer to a storm drain.

Get your sump pump and plumbing system ready for the spring and summer rains by contacting Sobieski Services today!

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