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Sump Pump Mistakes To Avoid This Spring

Written by Hanna Plumbing & Heating / March 18, 2021

First, a quick reminder of what a sump pump does. A sump pump sits in a “sump pit” below the level of the basement floor and collects excess water that would otherwise end up leaking into the basement. Then your sump pump pumps that water from the pit up and out of your home.

It’s fairly easy to understand how a sump pump operates. But there are still mistakes that can be made in installing, maintaining, or attempting to fix your sump pump. We put together a list of common mistakes homeowners make when it comes to their sump pumps. 

1. Submersible Pumps Let You Cover the Pit Easier. 

With a submersible sump pump you are able to put the pump itself into the pit without worrying about your sump pump malfunctioning. Since the submersible pump can be placed into the pit, you can then put a cover on the pit. Along with looking nicer, and reducing humidity in your home because the water from your sump pit can’t evaporate into your home, sump pits also have potential to let radon into your home. The only reason someone would use a non-submersible pump is if they don’t have a pit in the basement to collect water or the pit they do have is too small for a submersible pump. 

2. It’s Safest to Have a Sump Pump with a Battery Backup.

After last year’s derecho, we no longer talk about power backups as optional. A sump pump with a battery backup has become fairly standard. One of the most common situations in which people need their sump pump to be working at full-speed is during a thunderstorm. This is also the type of situation in which most of us experience power outages. Dealing with a power outage is never fun and you certainly don’t want to add water in your basement to the list of issues you’re dealing with. If you don’t currently have a backup battery for your sump pump you can find backup systems that your sump pump can plug right into. 

3. Keep Your Sump Pump Debris Free. 

If your sump pump sits in your pit, there is a chance of debris and silt from the pit to be sucked up into your pump and stop it from working. Many older pits will have a silt floor. Of course you can add gravel at the bottom so the pump isn’t sitting directly on the silt. But make sure you choose large enough gravel stones so they don’t get sucked into the pump.   

4. Is the Discharge Pipe Discharging the Excess Water Where It Should?

A discharge pipe is fairly self explanatory but it’s important to remember when troubleshooting your sump pump. The discharge pipe is the larger pipe that comes straight up out of your sump pit.  A discharge pipe can crack or be accidentally bumped so it is no longer connected like it should be. If there’s water in your basement but your sump pump is still working, examine your discharge pipe. Depending on your issue with the discharge pipe, you may need to get a hold of a plumber who has the tools to fix the issue the first time. 

5. Make Sure Your Float Switch Is Floating Correctly. 

A float switch works in much the same way your toilet does when refilling the tank. The float switch tells the pump when to turn on and when to turn off based on the water level in the pit. If your sump pump won’t turn on or off, you may want to look at the float switch. It’s fairly easy for these floats to become stuck. If your float isn’t just stuck and you need a new one, you can find those just about anywhere that sells plumbing supplies and they usually cost around $30-40. Depending on the type of float you purchase and how it connects, you may need to call a professional for some assistance.

6. Test It Before You Need It. 

You don’t have to wait for the next torrential downpour to test your sump pump, you can do it yourself. All you need to do is take a 5 gallon bucket of water and slowly pour it into your sump pit. When there’s enough water to trigger the float switch, you should hear your sump pump turn on and if the other elements of your sump pump system are working correctly, the water level in the pit should slowly go down, as the water is being pumped out and away from your home. You should test your sump pump at least once a year. 


If you need help determining if you need a sump pump, are not sure if your sump pump is working, or there is a breakdown somewhere in the system, give Hanna a call at (319) 377-2809 or contact us online.

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