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What Is a Sump Pump and How Often Do You Need to Check It?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 - 10:02am

Whether it is from a serious storm, melting snow or some other reason, having water accumulate in your basement is never any fun. Sometimes, freak occurrences happen and there is nothing you can do, but if you live in an area where natural drainage is an issue, then a sump pump may be the answer.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a pump that is designed to remove water from a sump pit or basin that is usually found in the basement of a home where a sump pump is installed. For homes that are built on ground with poor natural drainage, a sump pump is a valuable piece of equipment. It helps prevent flooding in the basement after heavy storms or other events that result in water accumulating in the basement.

There are two general types of sump pump you can choose from for most homes; a submersible pump or column (pedestal) pump. The motors in column sump pumps are cooled from the airflow that’s around the pump as it operates, and submersible pumps are cooled from the water they are submerged in. both pumps have benefits and you should consult with your plumber when deciding which one to use.

How to Check the Pump

Since you may go for weeks or even months at a time before your sump pump has to kick into action, it’s a good idea to check it every couple of weeks just to make sure it’s still working and will be ready when you need it. If you pour a big bucket of water into your sump pit, the pump should turn on and move the water out of the pit. Both the float valve and check valve should move freely and easily, even though the process won’t last for more than a minute. Alternately, you can use a broom handle or other non-conductive material to lift the float switch into the “on” position. The pump should come on automatically, but don’t let it stay on or the motor will overheat.

Other Important Considerations

Excess heat will shorten the life expectancy of your sump pump’s motor, so help yourself by not using extension cords and by plugging the sump pump into an outlet that is the only thing fed by that fuse or circuit breaker.

If you have a choice when it comes to the size of your sump pit, bigger pits will have to accumulate more water before the pump has to start working, which will save wear and tear on the motor. The cooler you can keep the pump overall, the longer it will last. If you are a first-time sump pump owner, take the advice of your plumber and you should have the ideal pump for your home.

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