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Sump pumps are easily overlooked, but they are, in fact, one of your home’s first lines of defense against water damage during winter. Sump pump systems are low maintenance and designed to last for years with minimal maintenance and supervision. However, like most mechanical systems, sump pumps can become besieged with problems, especially in winter. The abundant snow, muddy surroundings, and freeze-thaw conditions can cause problems unique to this season.
Knowing the most common sump pump problems in winter is vital for preventing them. This article discusses five sump pump problems homeowners must watch out for and tips for preventing them.
Common Sump Pump Problems
1. Frozen Discharge Lines
Frozen discharge lines are among the most prevalent sump pump problems in winter. A sump pump system is primarily contained in a tank or pit installed into the basement floor. Inside is an electricity-powered pump, a float switch that detects when it’s time to pump water out of the tank, a foundation drain line that collects water pooling around your house’s foundation, and a one-way discharge pipe that expels water farther away from your foundation. If water remains in the discharge pipe, it could freeze once the temperature drops.
A frozen discharge line will be blocked, causing water from the sump tank to back up and flow over to your basement. If a lot of water is collected from the foundation drain, the overflow can flood your basement and damage your belongings and property.
2. Power Outage
Modern sump pumps connect to a residence’s electrical lines instead of operating solely on batteries. It’s a welcome improvement as it saves homeowners the trouble of constantly checking their battery life and recharging and replacing the drained cells with fully charged ones. Unfortunately, power outages are common in winter, rendering sump pumps inoperable and leaving your basement at risk of flooding.
3.Pump Motor Failure
There are many possible reasons for pump motors to fail in the middle of winter. It can be due to wear and tear, electrical malfunction, lack of maintenance, infrequent use in the months prior, or excessive use during winter. There could also be problems with certain parts of the pump. For example, if your sump pump has the traditional ball-on-wire float switch, it could get tangled or snag inside the tank and malfunction. The valve in the discharge pipe can malfunction and cause water to back up into the tank, flooding and overtaxing the motor.
Any of these can cause a sump pump motor to break and stop operating optimally. The consequences would be an increased risk of basement flooding and severe water damage to your home.
Sump pumps can get overworked in winter because melting snow increases the volume of the water your sump pump needs to expel. Heavy rains and continuous ice melt towards the end of winter can add to the problem, and your sump pump may have difficulty keeping up with the water infiltration. This puts extra stress on your sump pump, leading to rapid wear and total pump failure.
5. Clogged Intake Screens
Sump pump tanks are wrapped with intake screens that filter the groundwater entering the water pit. It blocks large debris and limits the sediments entering the tank, keeping them from clogging and damaging the pump inside. However, the intake screen itself can also get clogged with infrequent cleaning. The screens can become caked entirely with debris, preventing the sump pump from effectively collecting water surrounding your house’s foundation.
A clogged intake screen can hinder your sump pump’s performance and cause the ground around your house to constantly have a high moisture content, resulting in foundation damage over time.
How to Prevent Sump Pump Problems in Winter
Considering the problems discussed in the previous section, here are some best practices to help you avoid them and protect your home from water damage.
1.Regular Inspections: Annual inspections of your sump pump will bring to light any potential issues before they become full-blown problems. Check for signs of wear and cracking on the pipes and tubing and whether there’s too much sediment buildup inside the tank and on the intake screen. Of course, check if the pump works efficiently and can detect water levels quickly.
2.Regular Maintenance: Maintenance is equally essential because it ensures all components are fully functioning and in excellent condition. The entire system can malfunction if just one part is worn out or broken. When done in conjunction with annual inspections, you won’t be spending much for maintenance anymore because issues will be fixed before they become big, expensive problems.
3.Regular Cleaning and Lubrication: Cleaning should be part of your maintenance routine for your sump pump. It may require opening the sump tank, which is best entrusted to experienced technicians. To be safe, call on professionals offering a sump pump cleaning service.
4.Backup Power: Most sump pump installations have improved from battery-operated to connected directly to the house’s main electrical line. However, we recommend keeping a backup battery so your sump pump can remain operational despite power outages.
5.Install Insulation for the Drain and Discharge Lines: The foundation drain and discharge pipes are exposed to the outdoors, hence the tendency of the water inside to freeze. Insulating these pipes can help prevent freezing and other problems that come with it.
If All Fails, Call a Sump Pump Cleaning Service
No mechanical system is immune to damage; you expect to encounter sump pump problems at some point. If a flood occurs or if your home sustains water damage due to a malfunctioning sump pump, call Restoration 1 of South Brooklyn. We offer professional sump pump cleaning services by certified technicians who hold the highest certification in our industry.
Our team thoroughly evaluates and documents the problems they fix, covering all bases so you won’t have to be bothered by a flooded basement or foundation issues again.
Contact Restoration 1 of South Brooklyn today.