Like a lot of maintenance around your house, you can do sump pump care when there is no
crisis, when there is a small crisis, or when there’s a major crisis. Home care experts
recommend that sump pump care is best done before the crisis happens.
In many cases, a sump pump might not be used for months at a time and suddenly be called on
for full tilt activity for several days straight. Understandably this can strain the system. Imagine if
you tried that on an old car that had sat in the garage for a couple of years and tried to go on a
long-distance road trip.
Here’s a common scenario: steady rain for several days or a big snowfall that melts steadily. In
addition, the soil around your house does not drain properly and there are small cracks in the
basement walls. In this scenario, water has built up underneath your home and your sump
pump works steadily to keep the water pumped out and the basement dry.
Because you are a smart guy, after the storm passes, you decide to do sump pump
maintenance. While some maintenance can be performed by the homeowner, please call the plumber if the maintenance seems beyond your skill level. A sump pump can save you thousands of dollars. Why risk getting it wrong?
The first step in sump pump care is clean up. That means removing debris in the pump pit.
After turning off the power and disconnecting the pump, the homeowner will want to use a wire
brush to clean the inlet screen of the pump. This should probably be done once a quarter, or at
least twice a year.
Second, the homeowner will want to visually inspect the check valve to see that it is working
properly. The check valve is a flap-like device that allows water that the pump has pumped to
flow out of the house, but not back into the house.
Third, the homeowner can return the pump to the pit, reconnect the hose and plug it in. Dump
enough water into the pit and pause to see if the pump starts pumping. If it does, that’s a good
What Happens If The Sump Pump Won't Turn On?
A common sump pump problem is that the pump does not turn on. This usually means it is time to call the plumber. He might look over the pump bearings to see if they need lubrication or replace the check valve if the homeowner reported it as malfunctioning. If the check valve is not working properly, the water being pumped out will flow back, causing the pump to run continuously and eventually burn out.
A fifth step of sump pump care is to keep the pump from running continuously. The pump might
even be starting to smoke. This problem could be that the float switch is malfunctioning. This is
an item that can be replaced more cheaply than buying a new pump. This mechanism floats upward as water fills the sump pit. Once it floats to a certain level, the device turns on the pump
and the pump begins to do its job. Once the water is pumped out, the device will float downward and switch off the pump, keeping it running only when needed.
Sixth, the plumber might check the sump pump switch. This mechanism, like the float switch, is
inexpensive and usually better replaced than purchasing an entire pump.
Seventh, the plumber might suggest that a dry well is installed to handle the regular outflow
from the sump pump. The community where the homeowner lives might have certain restrictions that mandate such a structure or guidelines that prohibit the well. The homeowner will want to check with his HOA for guidelines.
The plumber will most likely suggest the use of a 1.5-inch PVC pipe to handle the water that is
pumped up from the sump pump in the basement. He will suggest a trench approximately 8-
inches deep to the spot where the dry well is to be located. Of course, the pipe will have a
downward slope, so the water will drain naturally toward the dry well.
The hole for the dry well should be slightly more than four feet deep and covered with crushed
stone. Often the plumber will recommend that the hole be lined with landscape fabric which will
allow the water to flow slowly out but dirt be prevented from falling in. The workers then insert
the dry well shaft which is made of plastic perforated with holes to allow the water that is
collected to seep out.
The plumber will drill a hole in the side of the well to allow the PVC pipe carrying water from the
basement to be inserted into the receptacle. Workers then fill the space around the well with
more crushed rock. This rock will allow the water carried into the dry well to slowly percolate into
the soil rather than gush out creating an unsightly mud bog.
The well is covered with a plastic or rubber lid and topped with a spring release pop up that will
allow water to escape when the dry well is full but will snap closed to prevent water from the
lawn or streets from flooding into the dry well.
Sump pump care is an important part of your home maintenance. By taking a few steps when
the seasons change, you can keep your pump running smoothly and your basement dry.