A sump pump is a device that helps prevent excess rainwater or groundwater from accumulating in a basement; it pumps the water out from under the building and away from the foundation.
Your home's sump pump needs regular maintenance to ensure its proper functioning and long life. There are many different types of sump pumps, so be sure to consult your owner's manual for the manufacturer's advice on maintenance and service.
Always check your owner's manual, first, for maintenance tips. The Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturer's Association recommends the following maintenance frequency:
If your sump pump disposes water from a washing machine, a monthly cleaning of the inlet and pump screen is needed
If your sump pump does not dispose of washing machine water, the inlet and pump screen can be cleaned once every 3 to 4 months.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) says you should have an inspection performed on your sump pump every year, as well as when the home is sold.
NACHI says you should have an inspector test the sump pump and check to make sure that the float is not tangled or jammed in one position, which can keep the pump from working properly.
According to NACHI.org, here are the steps the inspector should take:
Step 1. Check the alarm. Not all sump pumps have alarms that sound when the device is activated. If the sump pump has one, test it to ensure it functions.
Step 2. Inspect for the presence of a check valve. Make certain that there is a check valve on the discharge pipe. The check valve prevents water from flowing back down the discharge pipe after being pumped out.
Step 3. Look for a backup power source. A backup power source is strongly recommended. Sump pumps often need to work during extreme weather conditions that can result in power outages. Consider having a backup power source, such as a battery, for your sump pump.
Step 4. Inspect the pit. A sump pump sits in a pit which gathers water until the pump can remove it. The pit needs to be large enough—at least 24 inches deep and 18 inches wide—for the sump pump to function properly.
Step 5. Check the discharge location. The discharge location must be at least 20 feet from your home to prevent water from draining onto neighboring properties; into public sewer systems; or into a residential septic system.
A sump pump can be an important tool to help excess ground or rainwater from ever entering your home. But, as with any appliance, regular maintenance is required. For your sump pump inspection, the best choice is to call a professional plumber to complete the tasks described above.
If you want some help remembering to have your sump pump inspected, sign up for the Allstate Maintenance Reminder.