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Sump pump maintenance and safety checks

While we may be in a drought (right now) there’s always the “wait 15 minutes and it’ll change” rule for Kansas!  Sooner or later, we WILL have rain, and if it’s true to form, several of those rains will be by the bucket load!   For those of you living in Lindsborg and Salina the last few years, you KNOW what we mean! Since many have sump pumps, it’s good to check them over periodically.  It’s easy to get an out-of-sight, out-of-mind mentality, but boy do you wish you would’ve checked things later when it backs up and you have water damage!  The following is a brief but important check list to consider:

  1. This one is simple:  Is it plugged in?  Make sure it’s plugged into a working ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet and that the cord is in good shape.  Sometimes dampness will trip those breakers, basically shutting off the pump.  Check it periodically to be sure you reset the GFCI.
  2. Ensure the pump is standing upright.  Things can happen down in the basement causing the pump to tilt onto one side. This can jam the arm so it can’t activate the pump.
  3. Is the sump itself clean?  (Kids love to throw stuff in there!) Are the pump inlet screens plugged?  Is the vent hole in the discharge pipe clear?  All this can impede good drainage, clean them out.
  4. Periodically pour a bucket of water into the sump to be sure the sump starts automatically and quickly drains away the water.  If it doesn’t start, have it serviced.  Really, if something doesn’t work or sound right, have it fixed ASAP!

Another important point is the pump’s power supply.  You may have a perfectly fine GFCI, but what if the power goes out during a torrential downpour?  There are good backups available.  Some have water-powered sump pumps through their municipal water system – assuming the city water system is still functional.  These use the pressure of flowing water to pump water out of the sump.  It isn’t necessarily a good choice for a main pump because it uses virtually the same amount of city water as the quantity of water it pumps out.  It’s good for a short duration backup.  Other options commonly available can come from a car battery or even better, a deep cycle boat battery.  Most systems charge the batteries while the power is on, ensuring the battery is fully charged in the event of an outage. As you know, Lamunyon’s offers water damage clean-up in cases such as this, but we’d hope not to meet you under such stress! However you decide to make this work, just be sure to check things over BEFORE you need it; then you can rest comfortably knowing you’ve done your best to keep your home and possessions dry!