• Geoff Burke

Why You Should Check Your Sump Pump... Now!


You may not have noticed, but there is A LOT of snow on the ground these days! That, mixed with the warmer weather we are due to experience in the next few days has the serious potential for flooding in your homes. We are going to be in for a very wet, slushy, next few days. Undoubtedly, we’ll all have wet feet, but in today’s post we’re going to help make sure your basement doesn’t get wet as well!


When all of this snow melts, that water needs somewhere to go. Of course, some of it will make it’s way down the city storm sewers to be taken eventually back into the lake, but anything on your lawns, driveways, front steps, or backyards only has one place to go – down into the ground! This deluge of ground water is going to wreak havoc on people’s basements unless everything is working properly. Now is your sump pump’s time to shine.


This weekend is a good time to drop into the basement (if you haven’t already since the last time I nagged you!) and make sure your sump pump is working properly.


Sump pumps actually work on a very basic principal – once the water level reaches a certain level in the pit, the pump starts to evacuate all of that water to the outside. Attached to the pump is what is called a “Float Switch”. This is what measures the amount of water in the pit. As the water level rises, the float switch rises with it. In basic terms, when that water rises to a certain level, the circuit completes itself in the switch and turns on the pump! As the water is removed from the pit, the float falls with the water level, eventually opening the circuit again and turning off the pump.


Now that you know the very basics of how a sump pump works, it’s your time to take a look and make sure its working! For this, we’re actually going to start outside. All of this snow, ice, and slush can block the discharge pipe that your pump uses to remove the water. If that discharge pipe is blocked, the water has nowhere to go. This can lead to the pump running continually, which eventually leads to a seized motor, and subsequent pump replacement. Take a look outside and clear any snow, ice, etc. that may block the path of the discharged water.


Now that you’re finished outside, you can go down into the basement and take a look at the pump itself. Do this by opening the lid, dodging all of the spiders and centipedes (sorry), and manually lifting that float switch. If there is water in the pit, you should see it pump out. Also, make sure that the natural path the float switch is taking won’t lead it to hit the walls, pipes, etc. and stop it from rising. If you’re up to it, run a hose or pour a few big buckets of water into the pit to simulate natural water levels rising. If everything works properly, then voila - you’re all set to survive the big melt!

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