Spring has finally arrived, bringing with it the opportunity to spend more time outside in the sun. As temperatures gradually soar higher, and the last chills of winter begin to thaw, a combination of melted ice and spring showers can lead to concerns for your home. If you haven't examined your home's plumbing system and sump pump yet this spring, now is the time - before you find yourself facing some costly bills.
As refreshing as spring feels, when winter begins to defrost and new flowers bloom, your basement is at serious risk. A harsh winter can saturate the ground with water, and rainfall only adds to that build-up, meaning moisture may find its way into your property. Spring is the perfect time to perform maintenance on your sump pump, evaluate potential dangers, and consider professional servicing. So how do you get started?
1. Make Sure You Have an Annual Maintenance Plan
The moment you invest in a sump pump, you should determine an annual maintenance plan. That way, by the time spring rolls around, you might already have an annual inspection in place. Whether you opt for professional servicing in the spring, or right before winter, it's crucial to stick to a routine maintenance approach. Without regular evaluation, your sump pump may:
- Wear out
- Blow a circuit
- Lose essential lubrication
While these issues are frustrating any time of year, you especially don’t want them to occur at a time when you need your sump pump the most.
2. Examine Your Sump Pump
Aside from professional maintenance, there are a number of things you can do yourself to keep your sump pump in working condition. Start by checking the sump pit for signs of debris that might interfere with your pump's function. If you notice an oily residue on the surface of the water in your sump pit, it could be a sign that your pump is releasing coolant - meaning it will need repair or replacement. During your inspection, unplug the pump and examine its intake, the air bleed, and the weep hole; and clean each part carefully.
If your pump is submersible, remove it from the pit and clean out the grate on the bottom - the sucking function of a pump can often pull dirt and stones into the grate, which will block the inlet and lead to damage.
3. Check the Power Supply
After you've checked the machinery for debris, plug the pump back into its supply. If you're using a GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter), make sure that it is operational. Though some newer models provide alerts when they stop working, older devices do not, and may require specialized testing.
If you notice any exposed connections or frayed wires, have them repaired immediately by a licensed electrician - water and electricity is never a safe combination. Make sure the pump itself is standing upright; vibrations may have caused it to tip to one side, jamming the float arm so that it can't activate.
4.Test the Float, the Pump, and the Discharge Pipe
A large number of sump pump problems are related to the internal float. The float is a vital factor in sump pump operation, but also one of the most vulnerable, so it requires frequent checkups - particularly in changing seasons. The float rises with the water in a sump pit, which triggers the pump to start working. To check the float, pour a few gallons of water into the pit - just enough to raise the float - and ensure that the unit is functioning properly.
If your float rises too high without activating the pump, you may need to unplug the unit and re-check for debris. You should also examine the discharge pipe for blockages. If you don’t want to disconnect the pipe and run a snake through it yourself, call in the professionals for assistance.
Maintaining Your Sump Pump
Don’t ignore the value of your sump pump; you may not think much about it when everything’s working smoothly, but if it malfunctions, you’ll notice. Performing regular maintenance should be part of the annual spring to-do list for homeowners who want to avoid unnecessary expenses and stress.
If you rely on your sump pump, then it may be worth investing in a back-up power source or generator. Backup systems can protect your home during a power outage, and ensure that you don't have to deal with the expenses of water damage while waiting for a professional to come and fix your pump's original problem.
How do you care for your sump pump in the spring? Let us know in the comments below!
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