Although most sump pumps require little maintenance, there are a few things you should check each year. Because a sump pump is a piece of mechanical equipment, it will eventually break. By examining the sump pump each year you should be able to catch most problems before you come home to a flooded basement.
While sump pump maintenance is recommended every year, if your pump is used heavily you should consider examining it every three to four months. Maintenance for your sump pump shouldn’t take long, so mark it on your calendar or tie it to another regular home improvement project.
The most important maintenance you can do with a sump pump is to remove any dirt, sand, or debris that collects within the pump. By doing this regularly, you can significantly increase the life of your equipment. If you leave foreign objects inside, you can decrease the efficiency of the equipment, causing your basement to overflow. The check valve can also jam if it is not regularly cleaned.
To begin maintenance, first check the battery back up. Unplug your sump and see if the battery back up is triggered. Make sure that it is adequately powering equipment. Once you are convinced it is functioning correctly, plug it back in.
Next you want to run the sump pump to make sure that it is working properly. Run it until most of the water is removed from the pit. Then unplug the sump once more, and make sure the battery back up is off to prevent electrocution.
Using a screwdriver, you want to remove the pipe directly below the check valve so you can remove the sump pump and lift it out of the pit. Pull the pump out of the pit and place it over a large bucket. Push up on the check valve to release the water contained within. If the check valve does not let out any water, it is either jammed or broken: call a repairman to complete the maintenance.
Next remove the check valve completely and rinse it with clean water. Be sure to remove any dirt or other debris. Then reconnect the check valve to the pump.
For the next step you will need a trash can and something to scoop with. An old coffee cup is fine for this step. You should lay down on the floor and scoop out all of the dirt from the bottom of the pit. Some pits don’t have bottoms, so if you remove more than a foot or so of dirt, you might want to stop and verify with a screwdriver that your pit has a bottom. If it does have a concrete bottom, be sure to remove as much dirt as possible.
With the dirt and debris removed you should put the sump pump back in the pit and reconnect the pipe. Make sure the float is functioning and can lift to turn on the pump when needed. Then reconnect the sump pump to the electricity and the backup battery. Finally, test the sump to make sure it is working properly by lifting the float.
Sump pump maintenance can be a dirty job, but it is also an easy one. However, if you prefer not to do the maintenance and check yourself, call a repairman that will clean out the pit and make sure that all the equipment is working properly.