Everyone knows the rhyme: April showers bring basement flooding (what, you mean that’s not how you heard it?)! Either way, one thing is for sure – spring is a beautiful season, but it can be a mess if you have a faulty sump pump.
For many people, sump pits are sort of like Sarlacc pits – mysterious, gaping holes that you’re better off just staying far away from! In fact, people usually don’t think about their sump pumps until they’ve broken down and the basement is a foot deep in stormwater. Which, especially if you live in the Washington, DC metro area, seems all too common. Ask around in your neighborhood – you’re bound to hear plenty of stories of people who learned the hard way that they needed sump pump maintenance but didn’t get it in time.
As it turns out, sump pumps that are properly maintained are generally perfectly reliable – the trouble is, proper sump pump maintenance is as mysterious as the pump itself. Sump pumps are not just “set-and-forget” items – they are mechanical, which means they need to be checked from time to time. Sump pumps that are not well maintained tend to wear out, dry out, overheat, lose lubrication and potentially blow a circuit.
So how are you supposed to maintain your sump pump? The best thing you can do to keep your sump pump in service is to have it inspected as part of your home’s annual plumbing inspection. Aside from that, you should do your best to make sure debris doesn’t get in and clog the pump area (even things like socks and tennis balls can get stuck!). Actually, you should check for debris or clogs everywhere in your sump pump, including the vent hole and the valves.
Most importantly, make sure you test out your sump pump after long periods of inactivity by pouring five to ten gallons of water into the sump pit. The sump pump should kick on right away and get to work moving that water out of your home – if not, you know you have a problem. Most sump pumps also come with battery backups to help make sure they stay on during big storms. Take some time every few months to check and make sure the battery is charged – you don’t want to wait for an April typhoon to find out that your sump pump has checked out!
Note: if there is a power outage during a big storm and you find yourself with standing water in the basement, never, EVER walk through it – you never know when the power could come back on, and when it does, there’s a chance that water could get charged with an electric current, making it extremely dangerous if you happen to be standing there.
No one ever thinks about their sump pump until it fails and their basement is under 15 inches of water. Don’t let this happen to you! This spring, call James A. Wheat & Sons for sump pump maintenance – before it’s too late!