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Homes with a foundation that lies below the water table are more prone to flooding, especially for those who live in wet climates. Sump pumps are a solution to prevent basement floods which can lead to significant and costly damages and even compromise the structural soundness of a house. Sump pumps work to remove water from the home by re-routing it to on offsite location, like a municipal storm drain or dry well. If you are considering installing a sump pump in your home, you probably want to know more about how they work. Read below to learn how sump pumps operate and how to maintain them so you can keep them working for many years to come.

How Does It Work?

There are two different types of sump pumps. The pedestal sump pump has its pump mounted on the exterior and the submersible sump pump has the pump mounted inside. Each sump pump offers different benefits, and both are a great solution to prevent basement flooding. The pedestal sump pump with the exposed motor makes servicing more convenient, while the submersible sump pump prevents electrical short circuiting. All sump pumps work in essentially the same way to remove excess water in or around your house.

The Process of a Sump Pump

Many people are confused with some of the jargon used to explain the process a sump pump takes to remove water. Let’s break it down one step at a time: Drain Tiles: As ground water rises, it collects in the drain tiles that are located at the base of your home’s foundation. Ground tiles are located either on the outside or the inside of the home’s foundation. The water is caught in the tiles before it is able to seep through the wall or the floor of your home. This water is then routed out and around the foundation through piping, either on the outside or inside of your home’s foundation. The ground water collects in your sump basin, where your sump pump works to pump the water away. Primary Sump Pump: This is the main pump that is plugged into an electrical outlet in your basement. The primary sump pump is responsible for the majority of the work your sump pump does. When the water rises high enough in the sump basin, it triggers a switch to begin pumping the water up and out the discharge pipe. Discharge Pipe: The discharge pipe routes the water up and away, redirecting it to a new destination. The discharge pipe is equipped with something called a check valve. This check valve functions to ensure that water is only moving in one direction—up and out, rather than down and back into your basement. Check Valve: As your sump basin drains and ceases to pump, the check valve takes over and continues pumping any water out that remains in the discharge pipe. This ensures that water doesn’t get stuck in the piping or return to the sump basin. Battery Back-up Pump: Most sump pumps are usually equipped with a battery back-up pump. This is important because it guarantees that water will continue being pumped out of your house in the event of a power failure—something that usually happens during a storm. It also will continue working if there are any mechanical failures, such as the switch failing to detect water rising or an older sump pump that has stopped working efficiently. This is the basic way that all sump pumps work to help prevent flooding.

How Do You Maintain a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are fairly easy to maintain as they require virtually no maintenance. However, in order to keep your sump pump operating at an optimal level, it is important to conduct regular inspections.

  • Check your discharge pipeline during the winter or cold months to make sure it is not frozen. If you think it is stopped up, have a Hamilton plumber come out to inspect it. They can unclog it and remove any debris blocking its normal flow.

  • If you have access to the drain tiles, inspect them for any clogs to make sure that water is able to pool properly.

  • Inspect the perimeter of your home for any areas that seem damp—this could be a sign of a leaking pipe.

  • If the discharge pipe routes the water to your yard, check to make sure the water is flowing correctly from the valve and away from you house.

  • Make sure that your primary pump is plugged in and that nothing is clogging the sump basin.

  • Test the pump by slowly pouring water into the sump basin. The float should rise triggering the unit to pump. If your pump is plugged in and doesn’t turn on as the water rises, your check valve might need repairing.

Have a professional come out to inspect your sump pump once a year, especially if you have an older unit or if your sump pump is frequently used. If you have any additional questions regarding sump pumps or are interested in having one installed in your home, contact your plumber in Hamilton. They are your best source for information about sump pumps, installations, repairs, and maintenance.


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