Will My Sump Pump Make it Through The Night?

How do you know if your sump pump is in good working condition?

Sump pumps can be very deceiving. They may appear to be in good condition but the internal parts, including the float mechanism, may be worn out and could fail at any time. The life span of a sump pump is determined by how often it cycles on and off. 

Every home is different.

Some homes have a much higher amount of groundwater activity than other homes which causes their sump pumps to turn on and off much more often than, let’s say, the house across the street or a few blocks over.

Below is a list of preventative measures that the homeowner can do to be sure that their sump pump is in good working order:

  • Sump pumps require very little maintenance and you should check them at least 2 times per year.
  • We recommend doing this when the snow starts to melt and the Spring rain begins. And again in late Fall when the temperature starts to drop. It’s worth checking before Winter sets in because, as we know, we get mild spells during the Winter season which causes the snow to melt, creating a lot of work for your sump pump.
  • We recommend that you lift the float mechanism, let it run and make sure that it turns itself off. Probably the best way is to hook a garden hose to a faucet and run water into the sump pit. This will allow the sump pump to cycle on and off on its own.
  • Check the sump pit itself. Is it full of silt, dirt or gravel or any foreign object? This could clog the inlet of the sump pump and cause it to fail. Turn the sump pump on by lifting the float and when the water is as low as it can go, unplug the sump pump. Scoop out the dirt and debris. Better yet, you can use a shop vac to vacuum it out. Now you can plug the sump pump back in, use a garden hose to fill up the sump pit, and ensure that the sump pump cycles on and off a few times.
  • Is the discharge pipe installed correctly? This is probably the most common problem that we find that causes sump pump failures. Once the discharge pipe transitions from vertical to horizontal, the water needs to drain away and out of the pipe by gravity. This needs to happen for a few reasons. If the discharge pipe is not installed properly, it could cause the sump pump to work much harder than necessary and reduce its lifespan dramatically. Be sure that there is a check valve installed on the discharge pipe. Make sure that the water is directed far enough away from the side of your home.
  • Check for leaks at any connections from the sump pump, the discharge pipe and the check valve.
  • Listen for any abnormal noises which could be an indication of a problem developing with the sump pump or check valve.
  • We recommend to homeowners that if your sump pump is at least 5 years old, consider replacing it. That is unless you know that your sump pump gets very little use.
  • If your sump pump is 7 years or older, we highly recommend that it be replaced.
  • Lastly, if you have any questions or concerns, call the professionals at Canada’s Pro Plumbing. We would be happy to help you.