As a homeowner, one of the last things you want to experience is stepping off your stairs into a flooded basement. Rising waters from heavy rains can saturate the land, causing expensive structural damage to your home. One way to combat a flooded basement is with a sump pump.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump removes water in your basement outside the home to prevent interior flooding. The system sits inside a pit or basin, which is typically a hole set into the basement floor. Valves attached to the pump detect high water levels or pressure that fill the basin.

Once the water or pressure gets too high, the system pumps out excess water through a discharge line called an effluent.

How Does it Work?

A sump pump recognizes high water levels in the basin, which then pumps the water away from the home through the effluent. The switch will automatically trigger once the water gets too high, pumping the water through the discharge pipe and away from the foundation.

Ideally, the drainage area will be 15 to 20 feet from the foundation, draining into a creek, pond, dry well, or neighborhood drain. You may need to attach a longer drainage hose to achieve the recommended distance.

The installer usually wires the primary pump into the home’s electricity but can also get power by battery or water. Most systems have a battery or water backup pump to keep the sump pump working during power outages.

Do I Need One in My Home?

Any home in danger of flooding can benefit from a sump pump, whether from higher-than-average rainfall or a basement below the water table. Excess moisture can cause health problems if left to accumulate in your basement and lead to mold.

You can help move water away from your home in other ways, like keeping your gutters clean and downspouts away from the house. You can also slope or grade the ground around your home. A good rule of thumb is for every foot away from your home. The soil level should drop an inch for the 10 feet immediately surrounding your home.

Why Do Sump Pumps Fail?

Sump pumps fail mainly from installation or usage errors or when their lifespan is over. Unless you’re familiar with the process, it’s usually best to leave installation to the pros. Sump pump errors, like stuck switches in the on or off position or running continuously, are another common failure problem.

With regular usage, sump pumps typically have a 7 to 10-year lifespan.

How Do I Know if I Need to Repair or Replace My Sump Pump?

There are several ways you can tell if your sump pump needs repairing or replacement:

  • Age: If you don’t notice any noises or problems, but your system is at or past the 10-year mark, it’s probably time to replace it. The experts at Abend Plumbing & Heating can come to take a look to let you know if it’s ready for replacement and schedule a time to come back and replace it.
  • Irregular or constant cycling: If the position of your float valve is too low or the sump pump isn’t strong enough to pump the water out of the basin, it could cause irregular or constant cycling. This puts strain on the sump pump, which can significantly shorten its lifespan if not corrected and could cause flooding in your basement.
  • Loud noises: If loud noises come from the basin, it’s a sign that your sump pump needs repairs or replacement. It could mean the sump pump is near the end of its lifecycle, or there could be damage to the impeller, likely because of debris in the pump.

Still not sure if your sump pump needs replacing, repair, or an upgrade? Contact Abend Plumbing & Heating in Baltimore, Maryland, to schedule a service call and evaluation today!