Sump Pump Maintenance

Wet dirt basements are common and sump pump maintenance is vital to keeping them dry. In fact, over 60% of crawl space and dirt basements have a water seepage problem according to The American Society of Home Inspectors. A sump pump is a very effective way to prevent water damage when they are installed and maintained properly.

There are many types of sump pump manufacturers, sump pump basins, sump pump discharge lines, waterproofing companies and configurations so make sure you  review your owner’s manual for the proper way to maintenance your sump pump system. 

Is Sump Pump Maintenance Important?

A sump pump typically requires little maintenance but checking on them regularly (every 6 to 12 months) will help to determine if the pump is failing and will prolong the life of the sump pump.

Rain is one of the most common causes of crawl space flooding. Installing a sump pump is a great defense against flooding.

Sump Pump Clogged

Annual sump pump maintenance will help prevent clogging which seems to be the most likely cause of sump pump failure. If the waterproofing system installed in the crawl space is allowing debris to enter the basin, the sump pump can fail quickly. Making sure the sump pump basin and waterproofing trench system are installed properly will help keep the system free of debris and extend the life of the system.

Sump Pump Discharge Line

The discharge line is crucial in several ways because if it becomes clogged, the pump cannot move water out and the crawl space. Use a shop vacuum to remove debris to make sure the line never clogs.

Install the discharge line at an adequate distance from the foundation of the home (20 feet or more) so you are not flooding the area near the foundation. If the discharge line is tied in with down spouts or french drains, ensure these systems are maintained properly as well.

Discharge lines can also build up sludge and blowing them out with high pressure air can clear the line.

Properly Install Your Discharge Line to Avoid Buildup

Also, prepare for the cold weather with freeze protection. If the sump pump discharge line is laying on the ground, small animals like moles and snails can clog the line. Making sure it is installed properly will eliminate many of these problems.

Sump Pump Maintenance and Float

There are a couple ways to check the float component. Simply lifting the sump pump float will engage the pump. The most effective way is to fill the sump pump basin with water. Using a water hose is probably the best way to do this especially during a dry season. It may take several buckets to fill the basin enough to move the float. Once the float engages, use this as an opportunity to check the discharge line and also to make sure water is not coming back into the sump pump basin.

Sump Pump Check Valve

The check valve is what keeps water from re-entering the sump pump basin after the sump pump is engaged. The check valve can fail and some people and waterproofing companies won’t install them. If you notice an unusual amount of water entering back into the sump pump basin, replace the sump pump check valve.

Another tip is to install the check valve above the sump pump basin lid for easier access.

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Sump Pump Lid

Make sure the lid is installed tight and always on. Some people will remove the sump pump basin lid but this can allow soil gases and even radon to escape into the home. It can also create a pond for critters like frogs…yes frogs. I have seen many frogs create a home around an open sump pump basin.

image of sump pump basin

Sump Pump Lid with Drain Combo

When installing a sump pump, it is a good idea to place a radon free drain on the basin lid. If you seal the lid properly without a Dranjer drain it cannot move water that may get on the vapor barrier out of the crawl space. This water can come from toilet leaks or pipe bursts. We install a Dranjer drain in all of our sump pump configurations to protect your crawl space from flooding.

Dranjer drain image

Disconnect the Sump Pump Annually

Turn off the breaker and disconnect it from the power source then remove the sump pump from the basin. Flush it thoroughly with water to remove impurities and debris. While you have the pump out, also clean debris from the sump pit.  Reinstall the pump and reconnect the power source.  Make sure you test the sump pump after reinstalling it to ensure everything is working properly.

Sump Pump with a Battery Backup

Sump pump battery back-up systems are a fantastic way to ensure your sump pump will work during a power outage. Make sure you test the pump and back-up system annually and replace the batteries as needed. Remember, when is the most likely time you will lose power? During a major storm. When will your sump pump be needed the most? During a major storm.

sump pump battery back up image

Dehumidifier and Sump Pump Combination

Let’s face it, dirt basement waterproofing and crawl space encapsulation can be a major investment but the damage caused by water can be even more difficult and expensive to repair.

Mold and wood rot can occur in a crawl space that is experiencing water problems and seepage but there’s another problem, humidity. High Humidity can still occur even if the crawl space has been waterproofed properly.

Mold can grow when humidity is at or above 60%.

Installing an adequately sized dehumidifier will make sure your waterproofing system or crawl space encapsulation is operating at peak performance.

High humidity can not only cause mold and wood rot fungus but excess humidity also causes hard wood flooring to cup and puts a major strain on the HVAC system. The heat and air system must work harder to remove excess humidity in order to make the air cold. Controlling humidity should lower utility bills and protect your home from mold.

Contact Crawl Space Ninja for Basement Waterproofing and Encapsulation

Please contact us to schedule your assessment to fix your crawl space, basement issue. 


Do you need help with mold removal, crawl space encapsulation, crawl space insulation, vapor barrier, waterproofing, foundation repair, basement waterproofing, or controlling humidity in your crawl space?

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3 thoughts on “Sump Pump Maintenance”

  1. The instructions you posted for checking the float component in my sump pump are really good to know. I think it’s interesting that the best way to fill the basin with water is by using a water hose. I’ll make sure to use my garden hose instead of something else to fill enough buckets to fill the basin enough to move the float. Thanks for the tips!

    1. Judy. Thank you for your comment about sump pumps. Many people forget the sump pump is the heart of a basement waterproofing or crawl space waterproofing system. Proper sump pump maintenance is critical along with a great dehumidifier.

  2. Pingback: Bad Crawl Space Repairs | Ten You Should Avoid |

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