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Understanding Sump Pumps: What They Are and How They Function

A sump pump removes water from a sump basin in your basement, safeguarding against flooding and water damage. Sump pumps exist primarily to direct water away from the foundation of your house, preventing flooding, water damage, and the onset of mold growth.

Sump pumps are installed in the lowest part of a basement within concrete, plastic, or fibreglass pits.

The sump collects water from a drain tile system surrounding the home’s foundation. The drain tile system gathers groundwater and channels it directly into your sump basin, thus allowing it to be expelled from the basement.

Sump pump models typically fall into two categories – pedestal and submersible, each serving different needs. Submersible pumps are entirely submerged in the sump pit, ready to manage the basin’s water accumulation.

A pedestal pump sits on top of the sump pit, with a float switch that triggers the pump to turn on when the water level in the pit reaches a certain point.

In either case, when sump pump activates, it pushes the water in the sump pit through a discharge pipe that pump out from the pump to the outdoors, usually exiting some distance away from the home’s foundation. This effectively moves water away from infiltrating into your basement, preventing overworking of the sump pump and avoiding water accumulation.

Common Reasons a Sump Pump Can Fail

Sump pump failures stem from various sources, including electrical issues, clogging, and mechanical malfunctions:

Power Outages

Sump pumps require a reliable power source to operate effectively. Flooding risks increase when heavy water accumulation coincides with extended power outages.

During a power outage, with the sump pump inoperative, water remains unpumped, leading to a full sump pit. Using a battery backup sump pump can help keep the pump running when electricity is disrupted.

Improper Sizing

An undersized sump pump can become overloaded by the volume of water during intense rainfall, leading to potential failure. An undersized sump pump may burn out its motor as it makes your pump work harder to manage the amount of water present.

Clogged Impellers

Debris such as grit, silt, and gravel are common causes sump pump impeller to become lodged, leading to failure. Regular maintenance, including cleaning the impeller housing and discharge pipes, prevents clogs.

Switch Malfunctions

The float switches inside sump pumps can stick or malfunction, potentially causing the pump to stop working when activation is essential. Issues with the float switch are among the most frequent causes of sump pump failures.

Signs Your Sump Pump May Be Failing

There are several signs that may indicate your sump pump is failing or struggles to keep up, pushing it on the verge of failure:

Strange Noises

Unusual noises like whining, grinding, or squealing from the sump pit may signal an overworked and failing pump. These sounds could be telling signs of sump pump problems, indicating the motor stops working properly.

Frequent Cycling On/Off

Frequent on-off cycling of the pump with poor water removal may indicate a malfunction.

Visible Damage

Inspect the pump for any leaking, cracking, corrosion or clogged discharge pipes indicating wear and tear.

Water in Basement

Standing water near the sump pit in your basement suggests a sump pump malfunction. Water ingress means the system is no longer pumping properly.

Detecting these signs early on is vital, as they can cause serious interruptions in keeping your sump pump working, leading to flooding and water damage.

What to Do When Your Sump Pump Fails

When you notice your sump pump has ceased operating, it is imperative to take swift action to prevent flooding and related water damage.

Safety First: If your basement has standing water near electrical devices, shut off the main water supply to prevent injury before entering. Turn off the power at the main breaker before attempting to access the sump pit.

Check Power: Confirm the pump’s operation by inspecting the outlet, circuit breaker, and battery backup systems. Reset circuit breakers as needed.

Clear Obstructions: Open the sump pit cover to check for clogs or debris that might disrupt the pump’s operation. Carefully remove any obstructions found.

Test the Switch: If the sump has power but doesn’t run, disconnect the electrical connections and manually test the float switch. Replace if faulty.

Call A Professional: If the pump remains inoperative or your basement is quickly flooding, promptly reach out for advice on addressing the sump malfunction.

Attempting to troubleshoot a complex sump pump issue on your own can be dangerous with rising water levels. Have our plumbers expertly assess the problem to accurately diagnose and repair your failed sump pump.

Temporary Fixes to Stop Flooding

Take swift action if your sump pump fails to minimise damage and ensure correct operation with professional repair. Here’s what you can do for some temporary fixes:

  • Use a wetdry vacuum to take care of water extraction promptly from the inundated regions.
  • Place sandbags around window wells or basement entryways to block further water intrusion.
  • To manage immediate flooding, install a temporary backup pump such as a submersible utility pump.
  • Check for clogged discharge pipes and clear any debris restricting water flow.
  • Be sure your pump, floor drain, air relief hole, and sump pit retain an unobstructed path to effectively convey water.

Although these emergency steps can manage flooding temporarily, they do not guarantee continuous pump operation. A professional plumber must properly diagnose and repair the root causes of sump pump failure promptly.

Calling a Professional for Repairs

When a sump pump fails despite your best troubleshooting efforts, it’s time to call in a professional plumber for repairs. Our plumbers at Balmain Plumbing are equipped to handle job complexities, offering a full range of sump pump services to get your system working properly again.

Consider calling us as we can accurately diagnose any issues with your existing sump pump system and provide solutions to fix them. Common repairs include:

  • Replacing broken or faulty parts like floats, check valve, switches, impellers
  • Unclogging jammed impeller housing or clogged discharge lines
  • Installing new sump pump system correctly if existing one is undersized or improperly installed
  • Upgrading to backup battery systems to prevent flooding during power outages

In some cases, the amount of damage may require a complete sump pump replacement. Our licensed technicians will scrutinise your specific situation, considering the nuances of your basement crawl space, to recommend the most effective repair or replacement services.

Our maintenance services keep your sump in top condition, and we offer damage restoration for a well-functioning system. Schedule regular sump pump checkups with our experts to catch small issues before they become big problems resulting in flooding.

Don’t wait until failure - For more information on repair or replacement of your dysfunctional sump pump, contact Balmain Plumbing at 1300 349 338 or [email protected].

Completely Replacing a Failed Sump Pump

There comes a point when repeatedly repairing an old, failing sump pump is no longer cost-effective. If your pump is over 5 years old and continues having issues or breakdowns, complete replacement should be strongly considered.

Our licensed professionals at Balmain Plumbing will evaluate your setup and advise honestly on whether replacement is the best course of action. We consider factors like:

  • Age and frequency of repairs needed
  • Inability to handle water volume during heavy rains
  • Outdated switch/float technology prone to failures
  • Damage or cracks in basin indicating ground shifts

Replacing an improperly sized or installed sump pump with a new correctly sized one can prevent flooding and water damage in your basement over time. We determine the optimal pump capacity required based on basement size, municipal rainfall data, and peak local water table heights.

Installation involves removing the old pump, cleaning out the sump basin, discarding any faulty discharge pipes, and installing new pump fitted to your basements needs. We connect the discharge line into the home’s drainage system to ensure water is not flowing back into the property’s foundation.

Upgrading to modern battery backup sump pumps protect your basement from unexpected flooding, ensuring water is kept at bay during power outages. We can also install water alarms to alert homeowners of high water levels.

Don’t waste money on short-term fixes for an ageing sump pump. Call Balmain Plumbing at 1300 349 338 so our experts can inspect your basement and recommend replacement options if needed. We install reliable, high-quality sump pumps tailored to your home’s requirements.

Preventing Future Sump Pump Failures

While even properly installed and maintained sump pumps may occasionally fail, there are steps homeowners can take to prolong their system’s lifespan and minimise breakdowns:

Routine Maintenance

Acquire the knowledge you need know about sump pump maintenance: this includes regular checks of the pump, pit, pipes, and float mechanisms. Clear any debris, test the system, check the valve, and replace worn parts. Consider professionally servicing the pump annually.

Proper Installation

An inadequately sized or positioned pump is prone to fail more than expected, especially during heavy rain. Consult professionals like Balmain Plumbing if you need to install or replace your pump.

Backup Power Supply

Installing a battery backup or water-powered pump guarantees operation during power outages.

Water Alarms

Water alarms notify you of sump pump issues or high water levels to prevent flooding.

Contact the experts at Balmain Plumbing on 1300 349 338 to inquire about preventative maintenance plans or system upgrades to avoid failures.

Regular Maintenance and Inspections

Regular maintenance and professional inspections are crucial for the continued functionality and longevity of your sump pump system. This preventative care can help minimise expensive repairs or replacements down the road.

Homeowners should be conducting quick sump pump checks on a monthly basis. This includes:

  • Clearing any debris from the sump basin
  • Checking that the pump turns on when tested
  • Confirming the discharge pipe is unclogged
  • Ensuring the float switch moves freely

An annual sump pump inspection and tune-up should be conducted by a qualified technician to prevent pump issues. This professional maintenance involves ensuring your sump pump’s components are in prime condition:

  • Testing and adjusting floats/switches if needed
  • Lubricating impellers and motors
  • Checking pump capacity and outlet piping
  • Cleaning sediment and buildup from the basin
  • Examining the system components for wear/damage

The technicians at Balmain Plumbing specialise in keeping your sump pump installed system running through comprehensive maintenance and repairs. Call us at 1300 349 338 for information on our preventive maintenance plans or to arrange an inspection. Staying on top of servicing your sump pump is the best way to maximise its operating life.

Installing Backups and Safety Systems

Having a backup system to prevent sump pump failures is critical to guard against basement flooding during power outages or primary pump malfunctions. We recommend installing battery backup sump pumps that switch on to prevent a flooded basement even when the power goes out.

Battery backup systems, crucial for safeguarding your home, include chargers that maintain charge levels under normal conditions. The moment an outage occurs, the battery takes over to make the backup pump run efficiently. These can operate for hours depending on battery capacity and water volumes.

We also advise using a water sensor alarm to keep water sump overflow in check in addition to battery backups. Water alarms have sensors that trigger loud alarms when rising water levels are detected in the water sump pit. This provides an alert to homeowners of pump malfunctions.

The expert technicians at Balmain Plumbing can install these backup systems and safety devices tailored to your home’s needs. We properly size spare pumps and batteries based on factors like basement size and municipal rainfall history to ensure adequate protection for your homes.

Relying solely on your primary AC-powered sump pump leaves you vulnerable to flooding risks during outages. Call Balmain Plumbing at 1300 349 338 to inquire about backup sump pump and alarm options to safeguard your home.

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