There IS Sump-thing You Can Do About Your Sump Pump!
If you live in Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Gloucester, Camden, and Burlington County New Jersey, or Northeastern Maryland, chances are you have a sump pump (or maybe even TWO sump pumps) in your basement. The Mid-Atlantic states sit on top of one the world’s largest fresh water aquifers. We have plenty of rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. We get over 40″ rain per year…and at times, that rainfall can be very sudden and intense.
The upshot is we have some of the moistest soil in the world. It’s inevitable that some of that moisture is going to find its way into your basement, especially during the rainy season or after a snow-melt. A sump pump is one of the most reliable means for removing excess water and keeping your basement dry. But sump pumps also pose a number of problems for homeowners. Here are some of the most common sump pump problems you may experience and some of the things you can do to fix, prevent or minimize.
Sump Pump Odor
A sump pump has a drain trap that holds water in order to prevent sewage and gas from backing up into your home. If the water in the drain evaporates—typically due to unusually dry weather—this releases those unpleasant gases, causing a distinct odor. To prevent foul sump pump odors, make sure there is always water in the trap. As long as the water is high enough to cover pipes and drain lines, you should not have a problem with bad smells. You can also use a bleach solution—approximately one cup of bleach per gallon of water—to disinfect the drain. Pour the solution high enough so that the float switch engages. You can try scrubbing the sides of the trap basin, as well.
Sump Pump Not Running
Make sure the sump pump unit is plugged in. Though this seems basic, it is not uncommon for the sump pump plug to get disconnected as the unit vibrates and responds to water flow. Next, check for blown fuses. Major appliances like furnaces and sump pumps are usually on their own circuits, so make sure the breaker is turned on. Look for the sump pump’s GFI switch to see if that has been tripped. If you’ve had dry weather for a few weeks or the water level in the basin seems lower than normal, the sump pump might not be running because it hasn’t been primed. Pour some water down into the well to activate the system.
Sump Pump Not Removing Water
When your sump pump runs but isn’t moving any water, the problem could lie with the float. Check to see if the float is stuck. Then lift it out, remove the outer case, and clear the screen. Debris often settles at the bottom of the sump basin and can get trapped, which impedes the float device. You might try placing the float up on bricks or cinder blocks so it is not resting directly on the well floor. If none of this helps, you may need to call a professional to check for clogs or blockages somewhere else in the system.
Sump Pump Power Outage
Sump pumps run on electricity, so a power outage could impact your unit. It’s wise to invest in a battery back-up, a gel pack system that provides power to the sump pump for days without any input from your home’s main electrical source. These are a great idea if you plan to be out of town, as there’s nothing worse than returning from vacation to a home that’s been flooded.
Wrong Size Sump Pump
Improper installation and sizing is also another leading cause of sump pump problems. Always use licensed contractors to do any kind of installation work. Not only are they trained to install, service, and repair sump pump units properly, but you’ll have a guarantee of work in case something goes wrong with your sump pump.
Contact Horizon Services
With over 20 years of service experience, we have helped thousands of homeowners in the Delaware, Southeastern Pennsylvania, Gloucester, Camden, Burlington County NJ and Maryland areas with their plumbing needs. Our team of plumbing professionals consists of some of the most experienced and most qualified plumbers working today in the Delaware Valley. These are top-notch plumbing technicians who can accurately diagnose and quickly fix any and all plumbing problems. Plumbing emergencies are our specialty!