Sump Pump Maintenance Check

Water damage is one of the worst problems the average homeowner will have to deal with. Irreplaceable possessions can be completely destroyed, cleanup is difficult and expensive, and the musty smell can linger for weeks. And in the battle against water damage, your home’s sump pump is the often unsung hero keeping disaster at bay.

If you’re a new homeowner who is just learning the ropes of home maintenance, you might not know if your home has a sump pump or where it’s located. But it’s important to get to know this device and how to take care of it throughout the year because it’s your most important defense against basement flooding.

What is a Sump Pump?

In a home with a basement, a sump pump typically sits in a small sump “pit” at the lowest point of the basement floor. The job of the sump pump is to catch groundwater that seeps in through a foundation drainage system and pump it away from the home, either into a storm drain or a nearby area that drains naturally. During rainy seasons, flooding events and even plumbing-related floods, a working sump pump can evacuate hundreds or even thousands of gallons of water per hour.

Types of Sump Pumps

Residential sump pumps fall into two broad categories: submersible and pedestal.

  • Submersible pumps sit in the wet sump pit all the time, which makes maintenance a messier job and adds a lot of wear and tear. They are, however, much quieter than pedestal pumps.
  • Pedestal pumps are cheaper, longer-lasting and easier to maintain, but the noise they produce during pumping may make them impractical for many homes, especially those with finished basements.

Sump Pump Backup Systems

Beyond the basic choice of submersible vs. pedestal, you have more choices when it comes to backup pumps. Though not all sump pumps have accompanying backup systems, it is very important to choose one that has this feature — if the main pump fails for any reason, including a power outage, the backup pump should save the day.

Many sump pumps have a fully integrated battery backup system that self-charges while the power is on so that it can operate even when the power is off. Other models may require you to supply your own battery, often a car or boat battery. Another type of backup system connects to your home’s plumbing and uses water pressure to keep groundwater moving when the electricity is off.

Whichever type you own, you should familiarize yourself with the maintenance and replacement schedules that are specific to your model. Maintenance steps can vary, especially when it comes to taking care of those ever-important backup batteries.

Sump Pump Annual Maintenance Checklist

Keeping your sump pump in tip-top shape is a small job — so small it’s easy to overlook. Since the consequences of sump pump failure can be huge, it’s recommended that you maintain your sump pump at least once per year, ideally during spring cleaning, when seasonal rains really put the pump to work.

Here’s your essential sump pump maintenance checklist:

  1. Make sure your primary pump is connected to power and turned on. If your pump is plugged into an outlet rather than hard-wired, make sure the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on the outlet has not been tripped.
  2. Test your pump for functionality by pouring a bucket of water into the sump pit. The pump should turn on automatically and pump the water away in seconds. Sump pumps use a float to detect water, and this float can become stuck due to dirt and sediment. So if your pump is powered on but doesn’t start pumping during the test, try to loosen the float before calling for service.
  3. Disconnect and clean the pump. Disconnect the pump from its power source and discharge line. Remove the pump from the pit and carefully clean all accessible parts of dirt, sediment and small stones. If possible, remove the grate at the bottom of the pump and clean it separately. If the sump pit is messy, clean up the area while you have the pump removed. Model-specific instructions on how to clean a sump pump may be helpful, but most pumps can be safely cleaned with a garden hose, paper towels and a stiff-bristle brush.
  4. Check the pump’s discharge line for obstructions. Small particles usually flow through, but sometimes small rocks get wedged in the pump, grate or discharge line where they can inhibit the flow of water.
  5. Perform model-specific maintenance to the battery backup system as needed.

In addition to annual maintenance, it’s worth testing your sump pump with a bucket of water at least once per month, especially during the rainy season. If something goes wrong with your pump, it’s better to find out during a controlled test than during a heavy rainstorm.

To help make a plan for replacement, check your sump pump’s original documentation (or find it online by searching for your model number) to see what replacement interval the manufacturer recommends. It may also be helpful to schedule an annual visit from a licensed plumber to inspect and maintain both your sump pump and water heater. Just be sure to remind your plumber of your sump pump’s age and ask for a professional opinion about when replacement is warranted.

When to Replace Your Sump Pump

No sump pump lasts forever, and your pump could fail due to old age in the middle of a major rain event. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to estimate your pump’s lifespan and replace it proactively.

As a general rule, submersible pumps last 5 to 15 years and pedestal pumps last 20 to 30 years. Frequency of use plays a large role in the lifespan of a pump, so if you live in a wet area with a high water table, expect your pumps to wear out on the lower end of that spectrum.

To help make a plan for replacement, check your sump pump’s original documentation (or find it online by searching for your model number) to see what replacement interval the manufacturer recommends. It may also be helpful to schedule an annual visit from a licensed plumber to inspect and maintain both your sump pump and water heater. Just be sure to remind your plumber of your sump pump’s age and ask for a professional opinion about when replacement is warranted.

Source:
https://www.directenergy.com/blog/how-to-maintain-your-sump-pump/

4 Ways To Prepare For Water-Related Damage – by I.B.C


In today’s world of extreme weather events, $1 billion has become the new normal for yearly catastrophic losses – most of this is due to water-related damage.

Flooding and related sewer backup damage is costly for homeowners, businesses, municipalities and insurance companies. But, there are steps you can take to help mitigate risk.

From ensuring that important documents are not stored in your basement to installing a sump pump, there are many ways to be proactive such as:

  1. Keep a current and detailed home inventory.
  2. If your neighbourhood is prone to flooding, take precautions throughout your house and property.
  3. Assemble a disaster safety kit.
  4. Create a 72-hour emergency preparedness plan ​for your family.

Rest Easier. Know What’s Covered. 

Talk to your insurance representative to make sure you have appropriate coverage. Be aware that:

  • ​Damage to your home caused by the sudden and accidental bursting of plumbing pipes and appliances is usually covered by all home insurance policies.
  • Historically in Canada, home insurance policies haven’t covered loss or damage caused by overland flood damage, which occurs when bodies of water, such as rivers, dams overflow onto dry land. This has begun to change. Some Canadian insurers have started to offer overland flood coverage for policyholders but this type of coverage is new on the market and not all insurers are offering it. Check with yours to see if it is available and if you qualify for the coverage because if you live in a known flood plain, the coverage may not be available.
  • Water damage in a basement that backs up through sewers, floor drains, toilets and showers maybe covered if your policy covers sewer back up or you may have purchased the coverage as an optional endorsement. So speak to your insurance representative to understand what coverage and limits you have.
  • Damage to homes caused by hail or wind is usually covered. This includes damage caused by flying debris or falling branches or trees, or damage caused by water entering through sudden openings caused by wind or hail.
  • If Comprehensive or All Perils coverage has been purchased on your auto policy, damage to vehicles from wind, hail or water is usually covered. This coverage is not mandatory, so check your policy.
  • In certain circumstances, homeowners who must leave their home due to insurable damage are usually entitled to additional living expenses (ALE) speak to your insurance representative to understand the coverage you purchased.

    Tips For Starting The Claim Process

  • Call your insurance representative or company. Most insurers have a 24-hour claims service. Be as detailed as possible when providing information.
  • List all damaged or destroyed items. If possible, assemble proofs of purchase, photos, receipts and warranties. Take photos of damage incurred and keep damaged items, unless they pose a health hazard.
  • Keep all receipts related to cleanup and living expenses if you’ve been displaced. Ask your insurance representative about what expenses you may be entitled to and for what period of time.

Source: http://www.ibc.ca/nu/disaster/water