8 Common Sump Pump Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
Sump pumps are used to remove water that has gathered into a sump basin designed to collect water. They are usually found in the basement of your home. Its primary purpose is to pump and send water away from the house to a place where it can cause fewer problems — usually a city storm drain or a dry well. If not regularly and properly pumped, a sump basin can overflow. Here are some of the most common mistakes that occur with sump pumps and tips for avoiding them:
1. Letting debris get in the pump.
Letting debris into your sump pump is a common mistake that can ruin the motor in your pump, but it is easily preventable. Make sure your sump pump is not on top of any loose silt, small gravel, or any debris that could easily be sucked up. Instead, use large rocks or gravel so your lines will not get clogged, which can ruin the motor in your pump.
2. Not giving the float switch enough room to operate.
A float switch tells the sump pump motor to stop once the water level becomes too low. You will need to have plenty of space around the float switch for the arm to both freely float and also to sink. If there isn't enough room or if there is an obstruction in the way, the float switch will likely cause the pump to work improperly or stop working altogether, which can burn up your motor.
3. Pointing the check valve arrow toward the sump pump.
The check valve creates a barrier that prevents water from flowing backward into the pump. You should see an arrow printed around the check value indicating the direction the valve should face. To avoid letting water flow back into the pump, make sure the arrow is pointing away from it.
4. Not testing your sump pump system regularly.
There are typically three levels of "need" for a sump pump. Level 1 is when your sump pump runs continuously, even when there is little to no rainfall. Level 2 is considered the "ideal" scenario. When your pump isn't normally running, it occasionally runs when the need arises, such as during heavy rain or a storm, and then it shuts off. Level 3 is never running your pump. If your pump never runs, you won't know if it will work when you need it to. To avoid this problem, test your system regularly, or at least once a year. To test it, all you need to do is pour water into it. Take a 5-gallon bucket of water and slowly pour it in until the float triggers your pump to activate. Ideally, you should see the water level slowly drop and then eventually shut off once the float has dipped down below the shut-off level. If this does not happen, you will need to troubleshoot any issues you may have for repairs or replacements.
5. Having a broken discharge pipe.
If you do not regularly inspect your discharge pipes, you could walk into your basement and find it flooded. When a discharge pipe breaks, it can occur underground, making it impossible to see or know about until it's too late. So it's a good idea to inspect your discharge pipes every few months to make sure they are intact and working correctly.
6. Failing to check for loose wiring.
If your sump pump suddenly stops, this is a good indication that you have loose wiring. To check the wiring:
- Turn off power to the pump at the source and disconnect it.
- Inspect the pump for any loose wires and replace any that need to be replaced.
- Reinstall the pump, restore power, and see if it begins working again.
- Add these steps to your regular system maintenance checklist.
7. Not checking if your pump is plugged in.
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it happens more often than you may think. Fortunately, this one is a simple fix. Always check to make sure your sump pump is plugged in. If not, plug it back in.
8. Not recognizing when a professional needs to step in and repair your sump pump.
Suppose you have inspected all the minor details of your sump pump and you have exhausted troubleshooting any issues you may have discovered. In that case, it's a good idea to call a professional. By checking if the water is discharging correctly on a regular basis, you will easily be able to determine when your pump needs professional repairs.
Need Sump Pump Help?
At AK Water Works, we know all about leaks and everything that causes them. We offer a wide range of professional plumbing services, including sump pump repairs. If you have questions, or if you have issues with your existing sump pump, don't hesitate to give us a call or request an appointment. Our team of expertly trained technicians would love to help.