Back up sump pumps can save you the heartache of a water damage
Summer has sprung which means it is time for heavy rains, flooding, and all the not-so-fun basement water damage that often accompanies the rainy season in much of the Midwest. For those homeowners with full basements or larger crawl spaces, you likely have sump pumps. If you don’t, it might be a good idea to have one or two installed.
There are two types of sump pumps: pedestal and submersible. A submersible sump pump rests in a larger basin, with the motor beneath the water line. A pedestal sump pump is smaller, with the motor above the water line. If you have the room, a submersible is the better choice — but if your basement is prone to flooding, any sump pump type is better than no sump pump.
Like your hot water heater and furnace, you should check your sump pump at least once a year to make sure it is in proper working order. For those living in wetter conditions, a twice-yearly check is best. Look at the pump’s power cord to determine if there is any corrosion and the cord is free from contacting water. The test valve should move easily, and any alarms should work.
Flush the drain pipes. Pour hot water into them and see how fast they empty outside. A slow flow likely means the pipes are getting clogged with debris. Check the sump pump for oil leaks. Test the backup battery by unplugging the sump pump and filling the basin with water. The pump should turn on with a battery reserve. Once the basin is empty, plug the pump in and again fill the basin with water to make sure the pump works with electricity.
You might think all this contact with water would keep your sump pump nice and clean — but you’d be wrong. Sump pumps get dirty and can get moldy. If you are handy, you can clean the sump pump unit. Just make sure to unplug it and disconnect the backup battery and any alarms before removing the pump.
You should remove the entire pump for ease of cleaning and to see it better. To do this, remove the fasteners attaching the discharge pipe. If the pump does not come free easily, use a lubricant to loosen it. Place the pump on a tarp or take it outside. Cleaning the pump will get messy.
Once you have the sump pump out, use a dry sponge or clean rag to wipe away grime. For whatever sticks, try a flathead screwdriver or small paint scraper to loosen it. After the debris is cleared away to the best of your ability, it is time to disinfect. This means disinfecting not only the sump pump, but also the basin and the discharge pipe.
Wipe down the outside of the sump pump, the inside of the basin, and the discharge pipes with bleach or vinegar. If you are working indoors, ventilate the area. Wear a face mask and disposable gloves no matter where you are and what you use as a cleaning agent.
For those with a shop vac, put it to use by sucking out all the gunk and water inside the bottom of the pit. Make sure to empty the vac after use and wipe down the inside with disinfectant. Once everything is clean and dry, reassemble the sump pump and plug it in.
HAVE A BACKUP
Lightning often comes with heavy rains and both can knock out electrical power, so it is important to have a sump pump that works with a backup battery. The last thing you want is to know that your basement or crawl space is getting flooded, and the one thing you bought to help with that is not working because the power went out.