You’re a conscientious homeowner and you’ve installed a sump pump to avoid any more flooding in your basement. It rains cats and dogs outside and suddenly your basement floods again. What’s going on? Your sump pump isn’t working. Arrhhh!
Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario. Just because you installed a sump pump there’s no guarantee that it is always going to work. It is mechanical and subject to problems just like any other machine. There are better pumps and ones that don’t work well at all, but none of them are perfect. Here are some of the most common failings of any sump pump and some things to consider too.
This is the number one reason your pump may not work. The power goes out and the pump stops pumping because there is no electricity. The problem is that electrical failures often happen when we are asleep or out of the house. A good precaution is a battery-driven backup pump that kicks in when the power goes kaput.
There are two main types of floats – vertical and tethered. Either can stick, but tethered are more prone to do so as they stick to the walls of the sump pit. Some sump pumps have mechanical pressure switches that fail too.
If the intake plugs up with debris the pump cannot extract water from the sump pit or sump liner. The pump is busy trying to pump and straining the machine. Make sure screens are clear and nothing is lodged in the intake.
There are a variety of pumps on the market with different capabilities. It is important that you have one that can handle high volumes of water during severe storms. You will need at least 1/3 horsepower to pump 35 gallons of water per minute in normal conditions. If your house sits on a higher water table or if you can hear your sump pump running often, upgrade to a half horsepower pump which pumps around 60 gallons per minute to be on the safe side.
Frozen Discharge Line
For those of us that live in a cold climate, this is a very common occurrence. If the discharge pipe is not tilted enough, water will sit in the pipe and freeze when temperatures turn cold. This blocks the way for water to discharge and any water the pump collects has nowhere to go but back towards to the sump pit, which eventually spills out and into your basement.
A cheap pump or an underpowered pump will burn out quickly. Inexpensivematerials and components are more prone to failure, particularly when you need them to work the most. Sump pumps that are always doing their best but there is just too much water will fail too.
Sump pumps are mechanical and even with the best maintenance they will only last between five and seven years. Just because your pump hasn’t failed doesn’t mean that it won’t. Be pro-active, watch for deals and swap out your old pump for a new one before disaster strikes.
Have questions about your current sump pump or installing one in your basement? If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, we provide free in-home inspections and estimates and can show you how you can get your sump pump for free, including installation.