Sump Pump Maintenance and Installation

The purpose of a sump pump is to remove ground water before it enters the living space of a building. The two common areas where sump pumps are installed are in crawlspaces and in basement. If water were to enter the living space, damage could result in the form of discolored finishes, unsalvageable property and mold growth.

The sump pump is installed below the grade level in a hole or sump pit. As ground water rises the sump pump should engage and then pump the water out through a discharge pipe. There is usually a mechanism that turns the pump motor on when the water inside the sump pit reaches a predetermined level.

The sump pump should be tested regularly to make sure that it will be operational when needed. Test the pump by using a bar to lift the sump pump motor float. Do not use your hand to test the float. This is just as a precaution to alleviate any risk of electric shock due to a malfunctioning pump. The sump pump can also be tested by pouring water into the sump pit until the pump motor engages. This method is a preferred method of testing because it allows you to visible see the pump in operation.

Make sure that the sump pump remains clean. Debris often gets pulled into the pump and can foul it or seize the pump motor. The sump pump float often gets caught around the metal rod that holds the pump float. Make sure that the sump float is not tangled so the pump will operate when it is needed.

Connect the pump to a regular three prong electrical receptacle. GFCI protected receptacles are very useful as a safety measure in some applications. They can fail and that would be a major problem if the pump can not operate because its power source was removed. Leave the GFCI’s to the kitchen, exterior, garage and bathrooms.

The sump pump discharge pipe should be PVC well secured and as short a run as possible. The shorter the run the more effective the pump will be and the less it will have to work. Make sure the discharge pipe extends at least five feet from the exterior walls in order to keep the water from re-entering the basement space.

A sump pump battery back-up system is highly recommended. Often when the pump is needed most the power to the home may have been knocked out by storm conditions. Having a battery back up is added insurance that the pump will operate when needed.

The sump pump is a very useful tool in the arsenal of water control in the lower levels of homes and buildings.

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