This is the time to check your sump pump!
Make sure your sump pump is working before the snow starts to melt.
A sump pump is the first line of defense for many homeowners to prevent water from seeping into the basement.
With the piles of snow on the ground, especially near the house, when the melting begins, some water is sure to seep into the tile surrounding the house footings.
Sump pumps are available in two basic models: upright (commonly called a pedestal) and submersible. Either works well with proper maintenance.
The pedestal pump’s motor usually is about a foot above the top of the sump and the pump is at the base, which sits on the bottom of the sump. The motor is not meant to get wet. A ball float connected by a rod to a switch near the motor turns the pump on and off.
Submersible pumps are designed to be submerged in water and sit on the bottom of the sump. A float-activated switch controls the pump’s on/off operation.
The float moves according to the water level in the sump. When the water in the sump rises to a certain level, the pump turns on, and when the water level drops to a certain level, the pump turns off.
The float control mechanism can have different configurations, depending on the manufacturer. The on/off distance is adjustable on some models and not on others.
Make sure the pump is plugged in. Remove the lid (if the sump has one) and use a flashlight to check that the sump doesn’t contain any material that can plug the pump.
If the sump is dry, lift the float for about 10 seconds to see if the pump turns on and runs smoothly, then lower the float slowly. Briefly running a pump when it’s dry will not do any damage.
If you have an electric backup pump, that can be checked the same way.
You also can check the pump’s operation by pouring water into the sump until the float turns the pump on. Try to simulate the speed that water normally would flow into the sump. Watch the on/off float operation and listen to the pump.
A common cause of pump failure is damaged or rusted bearings in the motor. Another common problem is the float switch doesn’t make good electrical contact and turns on slowly or not at all.