Sump pump failing in house

Is Your Sump Pump Working?

April is right around the corner! This generally means April showers which bring forth flooding basements!!!! Here are a few tips to make sure your sump pump is working correctly.

  • Make sure the discharge pipe on the side of the house is not frozen shut or plugged, and it directs water away from the house.
  • Make sure the pump is plugged in.
  • Remove the lid and use a flashlight to see if the sump pump is clean and the inlet screens are not plugged.
  • Slowly pour water into the sump pump. Try to mimic the speed that water normally would flow into the sump. Watch the on/off switch's action and listen to the pump. Make sure the pump turns on and off at least twice. If something doesn't work or sound right, call a licensed plumber to evaluate the pump. It's better to be safe than sorry.
  • If you have a battery-powered backup sump pump, make sure the battery is charged. Then shut off the power to the main sump pump and the battery charging system on the backup pump. Pour water into the sump until the backup pump comes on.

Pumps have three main types of on/off controls. The first type uses a ball float attached to the pump and connected to an internal watertight switch. The second type is a sealed, tethered float switch with an on/off setting that is adjustable by changing the length of the tether. The third type uses a diaphragm to sense the water level and turn the pump on and off.

Both pump types should have a check valve on the water discharge pipe so water doesn't flow back into the sump when the pump shuts off. Backflow can cause the pump to turn on and off more frequently than necessary, which decreases the life of the pump.

Don't let this happen to you! Always check to see if the sump pump is working before the rain starts!