There are several things in the home that don’t cross homeowners minds until there is a problem — the roof, the foundation, the water heater, etc. Another common system that gets overlooked is the sump pump. Not all Front Range homes have a sump pump, and even in those that do, it isn’t always needed regularly, making it even harder to make it a habit of maintaining it.
If you do have a sump pump in your home and it’s been a year or two since it has been looked at by a professional plumber, it’s time to contact the team at Ace Hi Plumbing, Heating & Air. Our plumbers are experienced, knowledgeable, and have worked with a variety of systems and in both new and old homes.
What is a Sump Pump?
Depending on where you live along the Front Range and depending on the time of year, the level of groundwater will vary, which is water that ebbs and flows naturally below the surface of the ground. The sump pump is designed to protect your home from the water levels getting too high and causing damage to the foundation of the home, among other things.
There are two types of sump pumps, but located in what’s called a sump pit.
- Pedestal Pump: This system rests above the pit and has a hose leading into the hole.
- Submersible Pump: This system uses a waterproof case that sits inside the pit to pump water out. These are a more popular option as it can be covered, reducing the noise when it’s running.
As the water rises and reaches a certain level, the pump will automatically turn on in order to pump out excess water. When the level is low enough, the pump will turn off. In the case of a flood or a pipe burst, having a sump pump will come in handy. We hope it doesn’t come to this, but some systems can remove between 4,000 and 5,000 gallons of water in an hour.
Sump Pump Maintenance
The spring season is the perfect time of year to have your sump pump looked at by a professional plumber. As the snow in the mountains melts, groundwater levels are slowly rising, so it’s important that the pump is working as it should be and can be trusted to protect your home. The pump should be inspected throughout the year, but a professional inspection can be done once a year. Because groundwater levels depend on several factors, including the soil type and changes in rainfall, regularly checking on the pump will provide peace of mind.
How to Maintain Your Pump
Sump pumps are most commonly found in the basement or crawl space of your home, but they are sometimes located on the first floor.
Sump pumps need electricity to run and use the household current, but it’s important that safety precautions are in place to prevent electrocution. On the outlet that powers the pump, make sure that there is a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). It can also be beneficial to have a back-up power source that will keep the pump running in the event that the power goes out in the home.
Maintenance Items Every Three to Four Months
- Clean the inlet screen to prevent the system from clogging from debris.
- Check that the pump returns water. This can be done by pouring a bucket or two of water into the pit (enough water so that it will trigger the pump to turn on). When there is enough water, this will raise the float ball. After the pump turns on, watch to make sure that the water is pumped out.
Maintenance Items Once a Year
These can be completed by a professional plumber if you aren’t confident that these items can be done correctly and thoroughly. Don’t hesitate to contact Ace Hi Plumbing if you need assistance.
- Check Valve: A check valve should be installed on the discharge pipe and will prevent water from flowing back into the pit when the pump is off.
- Alarm: While not all sump pumps have alarm systems, if your system does it should be tested to ensure that it will notify the homeowner when the pump is in use or if there is a build up of water.
- The Cover: Submersible pumps with covers will prevent water from evaporating into the basement. The cover should fit properly.
- Discharge Location: It is essential that the water being removed from the pit is not discharged into neighbors yards, drains back toward the home, or into a residential septic system. The discharge location should be at least 20 feet away from the home.
- Pump Bearings: Certain systems require grease or oil to be applied to the pump bearings. This will ensure that the parts are working efficiently.
Common Problems With Sump Pumps
The biggest problems homeowners face is when the pump doesn’t turn on, doesn’t shut off, and when it starts and stops too frequently.
- Doesn’t Turn On: This can be because the water level isn’t high enough to trigger the pump, there may be a blown fuse or a tripped circuit, or the inlet valve is clogged.
- Doesn’t Turn Off: Inspect the switch on the pump and if it’s not working, replace it. The discharge pipe may be obstructed, or the pump might be too small.
- Starts and Stops: The most common cause for frequent starts and stops is the discharge pipe. When there are obstructions, it can cause water to flow back toward the pump, triggering it to turn on again. It could also because the pump is too small.
Even though it’s a system that often works in the background, the sump pump is nonetheless an important part of your home and requires regular maintenance and inspections. At Ace Hi Plumbing, we provide a range of plumbing services, including septic tank inspection, sewer cleaning, and drain and pipe cleaning. If your sump pump needs to be inspected or you believe it’s not working as it should, give us a call and we’ll come take a look. We serve the greater Northern Colorado area, including Fort Collins, Loveland, and Estes Park.