A sump pump is a silent sentinel that guards your home against water damage. Installed in a covered basin in the basement floor, the pump senses the presence of water and automatically activates, pumping water up and out of the house to a discharge point, usually located in the backyard. A properly-sized pump protects your basement from water intrusion due to external sources like rising ground water and localized flooding or indoor sources such as a broken water supply line.

Because a sump pump is installed out of sight and usually inactive, malfunction in the pump or its activating mechanism may occur without being noticed. The pump will then fail to operate when you need it most. Annual professional maintenance and testing by a qualified plumber is critical.

Here are three common sump pump issues:

Clogged Intake

Debris in the sump basin, including dirt and gravel from the surrounding pit or objects swept in from the floor, may clog the pump intake screen and interfere with proper operation. A qualified plumber can drain the basin, remove debris, and inspect and clean the intake screen as part of annual maintenance.

Defective Float Switch

A float switch energizes the pump when water in the sump basin reaches a preset level, then turns it off again when the basin empties. If the float switch fails to properly detect water, the pump will not actuate and basement flooding may occur. If it doesn’t turn the pump off, the motor will burn out. During regular maintenance, a plumber will pour a measured quantity of water into the basin to verify proper float switch “on” and “off” response.

Frozen Discharge Line

Residual water in the outdoor portion of the discharge line may freeze and obstruct the flow from the sump pump, causing basement flooding. The discharge line should always be routed on a slightly downward grade to allow residual water to drain completely out of the line.

For regular annual maintenance to prevent and detect sump pump issues in greater Cincinnati contact the professionals at Apollo Home Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.