Sump pump

Sump pumps are a critical component of keeping your basement dry and are often overlooked when it comes to routine home maintenance. When was the last time you tested your sump pump? Do you know if it’s operating properly?

Spring is in full swing and now is a great time to test your sump pump so you don’t have a wet surprise in your basement. Here are some helpful tips about sump pumps.

Make the Sump Pump accessible

Often sump pumps are located in a basement corner. They can get blocked by other things being stored in the basement. Out of sight often equals out of mind when it comes to your sump pump. So take a minute, head to the basement, and locate your sump pump. Move the Christmas tree, old set of golf clubs, or treadmill, and make sure you can access it.

Test your Sump Pump

It’s a great idea to test your sump pump every spring and even during the summer. As spring and summer rains soak into the ground, some of that water will end up in your sump pit. The only way it can be discharged from your basement is if it works properly. There are a variety of ways to test your pump depending on the type of sump pump you have.

If there are multiple electrical cords coming out of the sump pit and are plugged into the same outlet, then you can separate the two plugs and plug it in directly. Another option is to reach into the pump and manually lift the float connected to the pump (often a white or black balloon-looking thing). Some pumps can only be tested with water. They may operate with a pressure switch – the weight of the water causes the pump to turn on. If you’re not sure what style you have, pour a five-gallon bucket of water into the sump pit to test the pump.

Some sump pits are sealed because a radon reduction system has been installed. Even if you have a sealed sump lid, it is important to have an access port on top in order to test the pump.

Consider a backup system

Perhaps just the idea of having water in your basement is enough to cause you nightmares. If this is the case, it might be worth investing in a backup system. With frequent thunderstorms in Iowa, we occasionally experience power outages. If the power goes out, your electric sump pump will not run and you may end up with water in your basement. Backup systems are a great way to ensure your basement is protected.

There are two different types of backup systems. The most common are battery backups. These systems involve one or multiple batteries that stay charged while the power is on, and then they provide power to the pump when the electricity goes out. Another backup option is a water-powered sump pump. It uses the pressure of your residential water line to pump water out of your sump pit.

Pay attention to where it discharges

One final recommendation is to pay attention to where your sump pump discharges. Some municipalities allow the pump to be connected to the drain lines in the house, while others require an external discharge on the property. If your pump discharges outside, be sure that the line is draining far enough away from your house.

Do yourself a favor and test your sump pump today. If your pump is not operating, contact a professional to get it back up and running.