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How to Test Your Sump Pump

Power outage with flash light shining on sump pump

Many homes in Texas have residential sump pumps in the basement or crawl space under the house. This essential piece of plumbing equipment should be tested twice a year, usually in the spring and again in the fall. Regular testing and maintenance can help prevent sump pump problems and identify issues that need sump pump repairs. If a sump pump suddenly stops working and cracks in the foundation start to show because of water building up underneath, then the first priority is to get it fixed straight away by Foundation Repair Services Milwaukee or ones closer to the area, otherwise more issues can occur causing a lot more damage in the process.

What Is a Residential Sump Pump System?

A residential sump pump system consists of several parts and components, including:

  • Sump Liner
  • Sump Lid
  • Sump Pump Alarm
  • Pump Motor
  • Float Switch/Valve
  • Check Valve
  • Battery Backup
  • Plumbing Lines

The primary purpose of a crawl space or basement sump pump system is to pump excess water away from the home to prevent flooding. For instance, it will pump excess groundwater away from the house’s foundation when there are heavy rain showers.

A sump pump also helps to pump water out of the basement when you have a shower, tub, toilet, washing machine, or other plumbing in the basement that requires a drain line.

Why Should I Test My Sump Pump?

Residential sump pumps typically last around ten years before they need replacing. However, they can fail at any time and do not have a set expiration date. As such, you will want to test your sump pump to ensure it is working correctly and there are no sump pump problems that need fixing.

What Tests Should I Do?

The different tests you should perform to verify your crawl space or basement sump pump system is functioning properly depends on how it is installed.

#1. Inspect the Sump Pump for Mechanical Damage

Remove the lid from the sump liner and inspect the pump motor for signs of damage, such as signs of overheating.

#2. Inspect the Sump Pump for Electrical Damage

Follow the cords that go from the sump pump to an electrical outlet. If your sump pump has the float switch and pump motor wired separately, there may be two cords. The pump motor will be plugged into the float switch.

You could also have a single cord when they are wired together or you have a manual float valve inside the pump liner. Verify that the protective coating is still on the cords and they are not frayed, cracked, or broken. Unplug the cords and inspect the plug ends for any electrical damage.

#3. Water Test to Ensure Pump Is Working Correctly

There are two ways to test if the sump pump is working correctly. The first one is the easiest and requires you to take a 5-gallon bucket, fill it with water, and pour it into the sump pump liner. As you do, you should see the float valve start to rise. Keep filling it with water until the sump pump kicks on.

The second method is if your pump motor and float switch are wired separately. First, unplug the float switch from the pump motor. Now, plug the pump motor into the electrical outlet. You should hear the motor kick on and start running. If it does, unplug the motor and plug it back into the pump switch.

#4. Test the Battery Backup

Go to your breaker box and turn off the sump pump circuit breaker. Next, fill the pump liner with water until the float valve rises enough for the pump to kick on. If it does, you know your battery backup is still working. Remember to turn the circuit breaker back after completing this test.

#5. Inspect the Drain Line

Smiling technician servicing a hot-water heater

If you have access to your sump pump discharge pipe, find where it discharges the water outside and verify no debris, dirt, or leaves are blocking the pipe. You will also want to have someone fill the sump pump with water while you wait outside to confirm the water is pumping out the discharge pipe. If it is not, your sump pump discharge pipe is broken.

Professional Sump Pump Repairs, Maintenance, and Installations

If you discover sump pump problems when doing these tests, please feel free to contact Christianson Air Conditioning & Plumbing at 512-246-5400 to have your sump pump repaired. We also offer bi-annual maintenance plans and new sump pump installations in New Braunfels, Temple, San Antonio, and the Austin Metro area.

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