The sump pump certainly isn't the most glamorous appliance in the average home. Often hidden away in rarely visited areas such as basements, sump pumps can easily get completely forgotten in the flurry of winterizing activities.
What this means is that winter time sump pump failure is more common than most people assume. You might be surprised to learn about all the unique ways a sump pump can fail during the coldest months of the year!
We always hate to get that emergency winter call from a valued client whose sump pump line has frozen or burst and flooded their basement with water. In this post, we share our top tips for winter sump pump maintenance in hopes this will never happen to you (but if it does, remember, we are just a phone call away!).
A Short Sump Pump Tutorial
Many homeowners inherit a sump pump along with a newly purchased home (in fact, according to CBC News, nearly all new construction in the Ontario area includes a basement-area sump pump).
It is important to know what a sump pump is and what it is supposed to do so you can make sure it is well maintained and working properly.
Definition of a sump pump
A sump pump is a smallish pump that is typically installed at the lowest point in your basement or crawlspace area.
Sump pump job description
The sump pump's sole job is to keep your home basement, crawlspace, and foundation moisture-free.
How moisture gets in
Moisture can get in from a number of directions. The most common ways are from groundwater seeping upwards through the water table, moisture falling off the roof and eaves through the downspouts, or backed up foundation drains.
How the sump pump gets the moisture out
A sump pump that has been installed correctly is perfectly situated to catch moisture in its surrounding sump pit and either pump it or use gravity to naturally drain it away from your home and back into the ground.
What happens when the sump pump doesn't work
When the sump pump stops working as it should, there is a risk of flooding in your basement or home and persistent moisture gathering around the home foundation.
What Causes a Sump Pump to Stop Working?
There are infinite possible reasons why a sump pump might stop working. These are some of the most common reasons:
The power goes out (the sump pump can't work without power, so unless you have a standby generator, it will stop working during a power outage).
The pump mechanism, motor, or other moving parts wear out.
The sump pump hose or discharge pipe freezes.
The sump pump discharge pipe has come loose from the sump pump itself.
The pipe becomes clogged or blocked.
The discharge pipe is improperly connected to the sanitary sewer instead of the storm sewer.
The check valve (that ensures water flowing out can't flow back in) has malfunctioned or is missing.
The water is being improperly discharged and flows back towards the home.
Critical Sump Pump Maintenance
After reading through this list of potential causes for a sump pump failure, you may find yourself eager to schedule a sump pump inspection and maintenance call.
The good news here is, winter is a particularly good time to schedule this type of maintenance with your Gravenhurst Plumbing technician.
Here is what will happen during our inspection and maintenance appointment:
First, we will visually inspect the sump pit, sump pump, hose, and discharge hose to make sure everything is set up properly.
We will do light cleaning on the exterior of the sump pump itself and in the sump pit to remove debris or excess gravel.
Next up is a test run to make sure the whole system is working properly, which we do by pouring water into the sump pit and observing the water removal process.
We will also test to be sure the sump discharge line is free and clear of any blockage or clogs.
During our inspection we will make recommendations to repair or replace any worn parts.
If you do not have a standby generator for backup power, we can also make recommendations for the best approach to keep your sump pump working as it should during a future power outage.
Finally, if there is any standing water, visible leaks, or moisture seepage/dampness, we can clean that up and make repairs as needed.
Contact Gravenhurst Plumbing to Schedule Your Sump Pump Maintenance
Gravenhurst Plumbing first opened its doors back in 1945 and we've been busy ever since. If you need help with installation, troubleshooting, repair, or maintenance for your HVAC, sump pump, or plumbing system, or you are ready to install a standby generator to keep your family safe during a power outage, we are on-call for you.
Contact us at 705-687-3402 or fill out our easy online form to schedule your service appointment. We look forward to hearing from you!