No matter how expensive or efficient is your sump pump, it is essential to test it periodically. Sump pumps are great savers to prevent basement flooding, but they will defeat the purpose if not tested regularly. The periodic testing of the sump pump ensures that they are well-maintained and ready to take off flood water as and when required.
The best way to test a sump pump system is to check it on your own. It is a straightforward process and does not require any professional help unless the sump pump fails the testing.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to test a sump pump:
1. Check the manufacturer’s instructions.
A lot of pumps come with owner’s manuals. Read those carefully and see if there are any specific tests listed. It gives you a brief idea of the working principle of the specific model you installed.
2. Run water down into the pit.
It is one of the most critical steps in testing a sump pump. Make sure you follow the directions strictly. Do not use soap or detergent. Use plain tap water. Fill the pit up about halfway full. Then turn on the pump. Watch to see if water begins flowing out of the pit. If it does, the pump is working correctly. If the water doesn’t flow, the pump itself could indicate a problem.
You can use a bucket or a garden hose to fill the sump pit. A typical sump pump drains the water in 5- 10 minutes.
3. Turning off the Sump Pump and then Switching on
Any electrical component can be best checked by turning them off and then turning them on. It helps reset the CPU and motor settings if your sump pump has a computer onboard.
Wait for a few seconds once you turn on the sump pump and check if it starts pumping again. If not, it indicates some problem with the sump pump. At this step, ensure that the water levels in the sump pit must submerge the float switch to trigger the sump pump to work. If not, add some more water unless the float switch is submerged in the water, indicating the sump pump about the dangerous water levels.
4. Inspect the Drainage pipes
A clogged drainage pipe is one of the frequent reasons for the failure of even the best sump pumps. Along the floodwater, small debris, rocks, dirt, and pebbles pass along the drainage pipes and are often struck along. Once these drainage pipes are clogged, the water starts flowing back to the sump pit, resulting in basement flooding.
Check manually. There are no clogging issues if the water is sufficiently coming out of the drain pipes. But if you notice the outflow is less than usual, or there is no outflow of water, then call a professional plumber to clear your drainage pipes.
5. Testing the Float Switch
A faulty float switch is another prominent reason for a failing sump pump. As the water level rises considerably, a faulty float switch cannot turn on the sump pump. It results in basement flooding. To avoid such situations, ensure the float switch is set correctly. You should also check the float switch every time before starting the sump pump.
6. Testing the Battery Backup
Areas with frequent power cuts due to storms and flooding often install a reliable battery backup sump pump to deal with such power failures. You should check if the battery can be charged correctly and if the battery backup is working or not by disconnecting the power source of your existing sump pump.
Once you disconnect the primary power source, if the sump pump keeps working, it indicates that the backup battery is working fine. Even the water-powered sump pumps are tested in the similar way.
7. Testing Alarm
A sump pump alarm is essential for homeowners who are often away to signal any potential flooding danger. Periodic testing of sump pump alarms is equally essential. A Wi-Fi sump pump alarm should be appropriately connected to the internet. Now start adding the water to your sump pit until it starts overflowing. Check if you are receiving alerts on your phone.
8. Testing the Shut Off Feature
Stay vigilant on the working sump pump until it turns off properly. If it does not, it may lead to sump pump failure or motor burnout due to overheating. A sump pump not turning off automatically indicates a problem that needs to be addressed immediately.
Maintenance Tips for Sump Pump
According to (The Sump and Sewage Pumps Manufacturers’ Association) SSPMA, the average homeowner cleans their sump pump about once per month. If your sump pump disburses water from a washing machine or similar device, it should be cleaned monthly.
If the sump pump is not dealing with water from washing machines and dishwashers, you should consider cleaning them quarterly to ensure their smooth operation.
Every year, you should consider removing the sump pump and thoroughly cleaning the pit and pump. Inspect for any corrosion or leakage and fix it.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. Why Is water constantly running into my sump pit?
A constant running of water into the sump pit indicates a higher water table, drainage pipes clogging, or damaged lines resulting in water inflow to the sump pit. For higher water table levels, consider elevating the sump pit levels.
2. Is it normal for my sump pump to run every 5 minutes?
No! It is not normal for a sump pump to run every 5 minutes unless it is raining hard outside.
3. How Often Should Your Sump Pump Kick On?
The sump pump should start running only when the water level reaches its float switch levels. But if you live in a wet climate region where the water table is frequently higher than your basement floor, a typical sump pump may run about 2-3 times a day to keep the excessive water in the pit at bay. This run time usually lasts for a few minutes.
4. Should A Sump Pump Always Have Water in it?
The water accumulating in the sump pump as a result of seepage, rainfall or snowmelt in the sump pit is normal. However, the sump pump should kick on when the water rises to the considerable levels where the float switch submerges.
Sump pumps are handy devices that help prevent basement flooding. They are designed to discharge excess water into the soil surrounding your home. The best way to maintain a functioning sump pump is to inspect and repair it.