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Test Your Sump Pump this Spring

closeup-of-surface-of-waterThe sump pump is a staple in the basements of many homes around the country. They help prevent water damage due to flooding, going to work automatically as they gather excess water in a pit (the sump) and then pump it out into either the wastewater system or a well.

Of course, most homes here in Southern California don’t have basements. People often don’t think of massive flooding as an issue either in the dry climate. But this doesn’t mean sump pumps don’t have their place. Homes in So. Cal have crawlspaces that can suffer from flooding, either from plumbing accidents or occasional rain that the stormwater system can’t handle. Water in the crawlspace is a major problem because it severely damages that foundation of a house, rotting away wood and create other hazards. It raises the humidity in a home and promotes mold and mildew growth. We recommend most homes in the area have a sump pump installation as an important precaution. If you already have a sump pump in Riverside, CA, spring is the time to test it so it’s ready for the rest of the year.

How to Test a Sump Pump

Testing sump pumps annually is important because they don’t go to work every year. You might have a broken pump and not know it—until the emergency arrives when you actually need it.

Fortunately, testing a sump pump is simple. The first step is to check to see if it has power and turns on automatically. All you have to do is find the outlet where the sump pump is plugged in. Unplug it, and then plug it back in—sort of like a “hard reboot” for a computer. If the sump pump turns on, so far so good. If it doesn’t, you already know that’s something is wrong and you can skip the next step. Just go straight to the phone and call a licensed plumber.

The next step is to pour water into the sump (the actual pit where the water collects). First, clean out the sump of any debris, like rocks, gravel, or leaves. You want the sump as clean as possible. Then pour a few gallons of water down into the sump. If your sump pump is a pedestal pump, i.e. it is positioned above the sump, watch the float in the sump as the water raises it. This should cause the pump to turn on. If the pump is a submersible model, i.e. the pump is down in the sump itself, then the pump should turn on once the water rises above the intakes.

Just because the pump turns on doesn’t mean it’s working right. Keep watching the pump to see that it’s actually removing the water.

A caution: a sump pump motor is designed for use with water. If you test the pump without water, only let the motor run for a few seconds before shutting it off. You might damage the motor if you let it run longer.

If the sump pump isn’t correctly functioning, then call for professionals to repair it. This is too complex a device for any DIY fixes.

Sweetwater Plumbing serves all of Southern California and We Are Always Open for Business.

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