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close up view of a sump pump

Sump pumps are a common feature in Ontario homes, but do you know what they do or why they’re important? In brief, these machines prevent basements from flooding by redirecting water to an offsite location like a dry well, municipal storm drain or your lawn.

How does a sump pump work?

A sump pump is installed in a sump pit in the lowest part of your home. When there is heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, excess water goes into the pit instead of leaking into the rest of your house. From there, the water is pumped out of the pit, through a pipe and deposited safely away from your home’s foundation. Most sump pumps have a float that measures the height of the water in the sump pit. When water levels get too high, it automatically turns on. When the float goes back to its normal position, the pump turns off. How often your machine turns on and off depends on many factors, but it shouldn’t run continuously or turn on and off rapidly. These are both signs the device is malfunctioning and may need to be replaced.

Common sump pump failures

There are a few reasons why a sump pump might fail. One common one is that the power has gone out in a storm. Thankfully, a battery backup can prevent this scenario from occurring. Sump pumps may also fail because they’re clogged with debris, there’s too much water for them to handle or they’re just too old.

Sump pump maintenance

A little bit of basic maintenance can prevent sump pump failures and late night calls to the emergency plumber. At least once a year (ideally in early spring), perform the following basic maintenance:

  • Check to make sure it’s plugged in, and that there are no issues with the plug or breaker.

  • Clean the pump to remove any debris that may have gotten stuck.

  • Ensure the outlet pipes are connected tightly together and that there are no obstructions.

  • Make sure the pump is standing upright as its own vibrations can cause it to tilt. An askew sump pump which poses problems for the float.

  • Pour a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump turns on properly.

Installing a sump pump

A sump pump is imperative for preventing your basement from flooding. If you don’t already have one or yours needs to be replaced, an experienced residential plumber from Pitton Plumbing & Heating will be happy to come to your Hamilton home to determine which type of sump pump should be installed. Call us today to make an appointment or find out more about our services.


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