At certain times of the year, your sump pump is all that stands between you and a flooded basement. Having water enter low-lying levels of your home doesn’t just set the stage for mold and mildew; it also compromises an important storage area. Whether your basement is used for housing your hobbies, your tools, or your holiday decorations, keeping it clean and dry is essential. To help you protect this area of your Commerce, Missouri home, the following are seven common sump pump problems along with tips for resolving them.
1. Your Sump Pump Runs All the Time and Still Under-Performs
Choosing the right sump pump size is important. If this unit is too large or too small, it will run almost non-stop during the active season, and it won’t have the ability to consistently deliver the results you’re seeking.
The best way to ensure accurate sump pump sizing is by working with a licensed plumber. Sump pump capacities are measured in gallons per hour (GPH). A plumber can help you determine the minimum GPH for avoiding basement flooding on even the wettest days. Needs-specific sump pump sizing often includes measuring the per-minute change in water level within a sump pump pit and then comparing this to the top GPH of individual models.
If your basement flooding is extreme, other measurements might be taken as well. For instance, assessing historic rainfall in the area, reviewing property-specific landscaping and grading, and even accounting for soil type and saturation can all be helpful. Sizing a new pump is a lot like sizing a new air conditioner: if you get it right the first time, you won’t have to do it again for quite a while. This, however, isn’t where the similarity ends.
Just as with air conditioners, consumers can find a lot of generalized information on sump pump sizes online. Shopping for an air conditioner based solely on the square footage of your home and BTUs is a recipe for disaster. Buying your sump pump based solely on water gains and water removal is much the same. Factors like soil compaction, drainage slopes, and local climate matter.
If your current sump pump is constantly running but doesn’t have much of an impact on your basement’s conditions, it may be time to work with a professional to get one that’s better suited for the job. After all, your sump pump isn’t just protecting your basement or the many sentimental, seasonal, or half-forgotten items that you have stored here; it’s also protecting your home’s foundation.
2. Banging, Clanging, and Humming Sounds: Suspicious Sump Pump Noises
Many sump pump noises aren’t a natural consequence of moving water. Instead, they’re a sign of potential problems. For instance, if your sump pump is banging loudly while in action, it may need to have its discharge pipes battened down. In addition to being noisy, loud banging sounds often come with jarring movements that could upset the unit’s internal wiring and components.
Grinding noises mean that two or more internal parts are rubbing forcefully against one another. Depending upon the composition of the affected components, grinding sounds could eventually become screeching and squealing. Jammed impeller blades frequently make these noises.
Persistent humming sounds indicate a variety of problems. It may be time to have your sump pump impeller professionally cleaned. Humming sometimes means that the pump filter is dirty and must be cleaned or changed, or that a vent hole blockage has formed or is forming. To ensure that all bases are covered, the best way to address humming noises is by scheduling tune-up service.
Clanking sounds from a sump pump aren’t indicative of problems with the pump itself. Instead, they originate from your plumbing. When your sump pump does its job, all uninsulated pipes in the vicinity can vibrate noisily. The quick and easy solution is to have these pipes insulated.
3. You Didn’t Plan for Power Loss
Not every weather event leads to power loss, but many of the storms that flood your yard will. Your sump pump can’t kick into action if its plug gets knocked out, a breaker is tripped, or a nearby lightning strike has disrupted your electrical supply. Utility outages during times of severe weather could leave your sump pump down for hours or even days, right when you need it most. To avoid this issue, get in touch with our team of seasoned plumbers to find a battery-operated sump pump with impressive capabilities.
4. Your Sump Pump Isn’t Connected to Your Drainage System
If your sump pump is on and functioning correctly, you should see water flowing into your sump pump pit. If you don’t, you have a problem. The most likely causes include a faulty connection between your sump pump and your home’s drainage system and absolutely no connection at all. The best way to resolve this issue is to contact a professional. If you put your own sump pump in and are constantly having installation-related problems, it’s never too late to correct them.
5. Your Sump Pump Is Frequently Overwhelmed
Even if you considered a sufficiently diverse range of factors when sizing your sump pump, there can still be times when it under-performs or outright fails. Some people account for abnormally high inflows of water and choose pumps with slightly higher capacities than they actually need. However, there are often instances in which more than one sump pump is needed. Having a backup sump pump installed will take some of the pressure off of your current unit.
6. Your Sump Pump Doesn’t Have a Lid
In new construction, sump pumps without lids have basically become the norm. Installing sump pumps with liners is required by building code, but putting lids on is not. Most liners have covers with holes, and they aren’t adequate for keeping debris out. Operating a sump pump without a lid creates the risk of frustrating clogs. It also releases the damp, earthy smell of the sump pump pit into your basement.
Although you might not think that having a sump pump without a lid qualifies as a problem, it’s actually good cause to take action. Without a lid, the “stacking effect” will allow moisture and earthy aromas to rise to the upper levels of your home. Once there, they’ll have an impact on your indoor air quality and comfort. Properly sealed liners or well-fitting lids are also essential for preventing radon gas from entering the building through the footing drain tile. This is especially true when moisture and foundation damage already exists.
7. The Discharge Lines Are Frozen or Blocked
Blocked or frozen discharge lines are common in mid-winter and early spring. Debris in spring run-off and chunks of ice in freezing water can block the lines that carry pump water out of your basement. When this happens, sump pumps quickly become overwhelmed and shut down. During your annual maintenance service, we can share strategies for clearing your pump’s discharge line that are streamlined to suit the model you own.
Since 1946, we’ve been proudly serving homeowners throughout Commerce, Missouri and the surrounding communities. We offer plumbing, heating, air conditioning, and indoor air quality services. To get help with your sump pump, give Matheson Heating Air Plumbing a call now.