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Sump Pump Information

Sump Pumps
Are used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump pit, commonly found in a basement. In some cases, a sump pump is used when a lower floor is below the municipal sewer lines, to pump greywater or blackwater waste from that floor to the sewer lines.

Sump pumps are installed particularly where basement flooding is seen as a problem, but are also used to ameliorate dampness where the water table is normally above the foundation of a home. Sump pumps send water away from a house to any place where it no longer presents a problem, such as a municipal storm drain, or dry well. Sump pumps are usually hardwired into a home's electrical system, and may have a battery backup. Since a sump pit may overflow if not constantly pumped, a backup system is highly recommended for cases when the main power is out for prolonged periods of times.

Types of Sump Pumps
There are generally two types of sump pumps - pedestal and submersible. The pedestal pump's motor is mounted above the pit, where it is more easily serviced but also more conspicuous. Submersible pumps are mounted inside the pit and have specially sealed components to prevent electrical short circuits.

Maintenance
Sump pump manufacturers recommend you examine your pumps once a year. Pumps running frequently due to higher water table, water drainage, or weather conditions should be examined more frequently. When examining a sump pump and cleaning it, dirt, gravel, sand, and other debris should be removed to increase efficiency and extend the life of the pump. These obstructions can also decrease the pump's ability to drain the sump, and can allow the sump to overflow. The check valve can also jam from the debris.

Some suggestions to clean your sump pump:
  • Run the main sump pump to ensure proper functioning. Let it run until as much water as possible has been removed from the pit.
  • Unplug the sump pump to avoid electrocution.
  • Disconnect the pipe below the check valve so you can lift the sump pump out of the pit.
  • Hold a garbage can under the check valve and press with your finger or screwdriver to let the water out into the garbage can.
  • Disconnect the top of the check valve and wash it under running water.
  • Reconnect the check valve.
  • In the pit, scoop out dirt and loose debris from the pit into a garbage can. If you go further then 3ft down it's probably a good idea to stop because your sump pit may go on for many feet.
  • Put the pump back into the clean sump, reconnect the pipes, and make sure the float has a free motion.
  • Plug the sump pump back in and test it by lifting the float, or by filling the sump with water from a hose.
Resources
- "Sump Pump Helps Keep Water Out", North Dakota State University Extension Service, June 14, 2005
- Thomas Scherer, "Sump Pump Questions", North Dakota State University Extension Service
- "Sizing Up a Sump Pump", University of Illinois Extension

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