Sump Pump Maintenance: How To Test A Sump Pump

Posted by on March 22/2023 | 0 Comments

Ever since ancient times cities have prevented flash floods by taking the necessary safety precautions, for example, through structural parameters by constructing walls, dams, dykes, and even tree planting to stop soil erosion. It’s no different today except for the fact we have advanced plumbing technology to readily prevent flood water from invading our homes, for example, through a sump pump device. Ontario enjoys a humid continental climate including hot, muggy summers which peak in July, and cold, frigid cold snaps the longest of which are in January and February. In springtime, it’s also exposed to moderate amounts of precipitation during the peak of the rainy season outlasting from March to June. Most Ontario homeowners best prepare for the stormy spell by performing maintenance on their home for example by installing and cleaning their gutters, weatherproofing, and sealing windows and doors to prevent leakages to waterproofing their wooden structures by staining them. But above all, responsible homeowners know how to test sump pumps and confirm that their home’s plumbing system is in shipshape condition and fully functional so they don’t open the floodgates to their house during the next heavy thunderstorm. 

Ontario homeowners are aware that a sump pump is a worthwhile investment to ensure both their safety and peace of mind. But a sump pump is also necessary for your home’s plumbing system as it prevents costly and permanent water and moisture damage such as mold and mildew growth. By forgoing a sump pump device, you put into jeopardy the structural integrity of your humble abode as the aftermath from a flash flood is disastrous and can result in a weakened house foundation alongside the added expense of replacing flooring, drywall, and personal belongings. Worst of all, some homeowners insurance policies don’t offer complete coverage for water damage from a source outside of the house including a flood, while most utility providers only offer basic maintenance services for accidental water damage from minor leaks. If anything, it rests on your shoulders to hire a professional Ontario plumber from Hy-Pro Plumbing & Drain Cleaning for a sump pump repair and replacement and follow up by preserving the device through routine maintenance. Of course, this is all made much easier if you already know how to test a sump pump. At Hy Pro Plumbing we are big proponents of preventative maintenance and always advise our clients to sign up for an annual professional inspection alongside a sump pump repair service if their device happens to be malfunctioning. But first, it’s a good idea to educate yourself on how to preserve your sump pump device.

What Is A Sump Pump & Why Is It Significant?

The sole purpose of a sump pump is to take the excess water from your home and expel it to the outskirts of your property. The device itself is found at the lowest spot in your house’s basement in a shallow ditch called the sump pit. A sump pump is usually installed in the basement as due to gravitational pull this is where water is most likely to gather during heavy rainfalls or after the flush of snowmelt. Water from an incoming flood is readily redirected into the sump pit where it pools and gathers. Referred to as a “sump,” this mechanical device is placed atop this basin to capture the flow of water and reshuffle it towards a connecting discharge pipe known as the effluent. A fully operational device will allow the basin to fill until it reaches a threshold level which will trigger the pump’s sensors to activate the system. As a result, it will begin to suction excess water through the discharge pipe and siphon it off to the outside of your house. Because your household is heavily reliant on this singular device to ward off extra water it’s bound to fall into disrepair as it’s not uncommon for a drain problem to occur. That’s why you must be keen about your sump pump device’s proper upkeep especially if you already know how to test a sump pump you will rarely if ever require frequent repairs and replacement.

How Can I Best Perform Routine Maintenance For A Sump Pump? 

A sump pump device operates according to plan if all of its components are in shipshape order. Once the device itself detects excessive rain, snowmelt, or seepage after the water reaches a certain threshold level it will automatically trigger the sump pump’s float switch. This will power on the pump as it begins to discard water well away from your house. Here are the top 8 tips for performing proper upkeep for your sump pump maintenance:

Asses For Hairline Cracks, Fractures, Small Holes, And Leakages 

The most obvious red flag that your sump pump is busted is its blatant rupturing from a nasty clog. If your device happens to be misaligned too it can result in leaks. Either way, this indicates there is a problem with your drainage system and your sump pump device must be fixed to prevent water damage.

Check The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) 

Most electrical outlets in a house need to be GFCI protected for health and safety purposes so you’re not accidentally electrocuted or spark a haphazard house fire. A sump pump is no exception and must be connected to an outlet with a GFCI so it’s best to ensure the outlet and its cord are in good condition. In more damp and moisture-prone areas the GFCI breaker may become glitchy and trip as exposure to water can cause the circuit to malfunction and power off the device. One way to test your sump pump is to reset the GFCI every so often to ensure the sump pump has not become faulty.

Confirm The Placement Of The Device 

Make sure the sump pump device itself is in an upright position. A sump pump tends to vibrate as it operates which can cause the device itself to become off-kilter and be somewhat relocated from its original position. Due to constant use, this can happen more often than not which can compress and jam the float arm so it can no longer activate the sump pump. Sometimes too, your device can make odd noises from excessive vibrations as the device itself may be overheating.

Monitor Basin Water Level 

It’s not unusual to have a small amount of water within the basin underneath the sump pump device. Similar to how a well that gets dried out becomes unable to provide fresh water so too can your sump pump’s basin become dried out and arid. If anything you want to have a subtle pool of water within the ditch itself so be sure to pour a bucket of water into the basin. If the pump starts automatically and the water drains away rapidly it indicates the pump is fully operational. If however, that is not the case you need to have the device itself serviced by an expert plumber.

Remove Debris, Residue And Scrub Clean 

Next, you must periodically remove the sump pump device, especially if it’s of the submersible variety, from the basin and scrub it clean of any accumulated debris including sediment and mineral buildup. A sump pump can get clogged due to its sucking and filtration motion that attracts small stones which can plug up the device and render it useless. We suggest cleaning the sump pump device’s screen or inlet opening at least once every few months and the entirety of the device and the basin itself once per year. Although maintenance is straightforward for most Ontario property owners, sometimes you need a professional-grade plumber’s equipment such as a snake or auger to remove a solid blockage within the device or a high-pressure hose to flush out its discharge pipes and clean the inside of its walls. During your next plumbing diagnosis and inspection service your skilled plumber can show you the ropes for how to test the sump pump for cleaning and maintenance purposes.

Securely Fasten Drainage Pipes 

It’s best to also double-check if the discharge and outlet pipes are tightly connected and draining at the very minimum 20 feet away from your house’s foundation. During winter the pipes may have frozen over and become loosened so you may need to refasten them.

Clear Away Any Obstructions From The Vent Hole 

Ensure the vent hole of the sump pump device is clean and clear of any debris and residue. Most devices have a vent hole to stop the airlock and so the vent must be free of any debris to allow your pump to operate properly and smoothly. Based on the previous step mentioned above it’s essential that you scrape away any sludge and hardened dirt and minerals off the exterior of the pump until it’s left spick-and-span.

Confirm The Power Supply 

One last reminder is to confirm if your device has a power supply. Most modern sump pump units require electricity to operate (except for a water-powered or battery-operated one used during power outages) and come as either pedestal pumps or submersible sump pumps.

Frequently Asked Questions About Sump Pump Maintainance

What Are Telltale Signs Your Sump Pump Is Broken?

  • Odd Noises
  • Foul Odors
  • Mold and Mildew Growth
  • Frequent Or Irregular Cycling
  • Excessive Vibrations During Operation
  • Permanent Water And Moisture Damage
  • Discolored Rust And Corrosion

What Is A Quick Hack to Test If My Sump Pump Is Working?

One of the easier and most effective ways to ensure your sump pump is in proper working order is to pour a bucket of water into the pit or basin. If the float arises and the sump pump automatically powers on and drains away the excess water it indicates that the device itself is fully functional.

How Often Should You Test A Sump Pump?

It’s best practice to assess your sump pump every three to four months for both maintenance and cleaning purposes, for example, by opening the inlet screen and scrubbing it clean of any sediment build-up and other debris. Plus, you should ask a professional plumber to perform an inspection at least annually who can conduct a thorough observation and check for any obstacles which may impede the flow of water.

Hy-Pro Plumbing Will Prevent The Floodgates From Being Unleashed On Your Humble Abode–Reach Out Today!

Before you start the waterworks after being exposed to a sudden flash flood be proactive about maintaining your sump pump. Once you get into the groove of how to test your sump pump it will become second nature to periodically review if it remains in full operation. Let’s face it–no Ontario homeowner wants to be all swamped out so the more adamant they are about preventive maintenance the less frequent sump pump repairs and replacements they will need. If it comes to that, however, go ahead and reach out to one of our helpful customer service representatives at 1-877-554-9776 who can inform you more about the benefits of upgrading your home’s plumbing system. Apart from servicing your sump pump we also offer other useful residential and commercial plumbing services from drain cleaning to clogged drains and water heater installation so be sure to ask as we earnestly await your response.

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