Sump Pump Maintenance and Backup Battery Systems
Properly maintaining your sump pump is crucial to avoiding costly basement repairs and restoration. Many homeowners install their sump pump and forget about the system entirely until a heavy downpour threatens to overwhelm their pump. To avoid sump pump failure, most maintenance should be conducted once every three months and should include the following:
- Check the pit and the inlet screen for debris and mud, which can clog up the sump
- Make sure that the float switch is not stuck and easily moves up and down
- Check the discharge line to make sure that the line is not clogged or frozen so that water can move freely through the line and out of your home
- Test the pump by slowly pouring water into the pump until water reaches the float and the pump is triggered
- Go outside and ensure that the line is depositing water far enough away from your foundation that the same water won’t find its way back to your sump pit
- Once a year, disconnect the power, remove the unit, and flush the system with water to remove all debris
- Finally, replace your sump pump every three to four years or sooner, depending on how often your sump pump runs. For example, if your pump kicks on every few minutes throughout the year, you might consider replacing your pump every year to two years to prevent the motor from burning out.
Regardless of how routine and thorough your sump pump maintenance is, sump pumps still sometimes fail. The most common reasons for this are the loss of power and simply too must water for the pump to handle at one time. While some homeowners combat loss of power by investing in generators, most generators require homeowners to be home in order to start it. So by the time homeowners can get home from work, vacation, and events to realize that their home is without power, their sump pit has had plenty of time to fill up with water, and potentially flood their basement.
Situations such as water damage due to power loss can be avoided by investing in a backup battery system. A backup battery system consists of a smaller submersible pump that’s placed into the sump pit with the main pump and is then connected to a small external battery (much like a car battery). When the main pump loses power, or is overwhelmed by a heavy flow of water, the backup battery will trip on and will run until a) it has pumped out the water, b) the main pump regains power and drops the water level, or c) the main pump is able to catch up to the water flow and water levels drop.
Most backup batteries will be able to run a backup pump for up to 12 hours on one charge. For a price tag that hovers between $650 and $1300 per backup unit, the cost of backup battery installation is worth the peace of mind.
Also worthy of note are the much-applauded text alert systems. When the power shuts off, an alarm is triggered and a text alert is sent to your phone. This system is especially helpful for families who are often away from home for vacations and long weekends, or businessmen who travel frequently and may not have someone home to notice the power is off – and has been off – for a while.