As spring is upon us, remember to check your home’s sump pump

It's time of the year for one of the most forgotten systems in a house

julie jenkins photoBy JULIE JENKINS

Spring has sprung! It’s a wet and rainy season and a time of the year when one of the most forgotten systems in our house gets the most use. Your sump pump is often forgotten, it’s probably hidden away somewhere, tucked under the stairs or in a closet in your basement. We usually don’t think about them a lot unless we have a wet basement. Spending a little bit of time checking your sump pump and doing some routine maintenance can help you to avoid problems.

It is important that your sump pump is plugged into a GFI outlet (ground fault interrupter) This type of outlet will trip when it gets wet, turning your sump pump off. Make sure that this hasn’t happened and reset the outlet if necessary. Next, make sure that you pump hasn’t moved in the well, sometimes if it has been running a lot the vibrations can move it in the well. If it is not upright the float arm that activates the pump may not work properly and your pump may not come on when the well is full.

If you haven’t heard your sump pump run for a while you can pour a bucket of water into it to fill the pit and make sure that the pump starts and that it drains the water away quickly.

If your pump does not seem to be working properly you can call a plumber to inspect it or if you are comfortable you can remove it from the pit and examine it. While the pump is out check the bottom of the well and the grates to be sure that there are no stones lodged in the system. These can be sucked into the pipes by the pump and lodge in the grating system.

Depending on what area of Sarnia-Lambton you live in, your sump pump may run more often. Those who are in areas with clay will find that their pump runs a lot more often than those in sandy areas.

If you live in an area where your pump runs a lot you may need to replace it more frequently. If you like home projects you can probably do it yourself or if you are unsure you can hire a plumber to replace your pump.

A basic pump is inexpensive but you can also get features like a battery back-up and even an alarm system that alerts you if the pit is full and the pump is not working. Some of these systems can also alert your home alarm company in the event that you are not home at the time. Of course, these options will be more expensive than your basic pump but if you are away from home a lot it may be worth the peace of mind to purchase this type of system.

If your power is out for an extended period of time during a storm and you do not have a battery back-up, check your sump pump and if needed get some buckets and remove water from the well.

Doing a little bit of maintenance and checking your system only takes a few minutes but can save you from the expense and hassle of a wet basement.

Julie Jenkins is a sales representative with EXIT Realty Twin Bridges Brokerage in Sarnia. She can be reached by e-mail or by phone at (519) 328-4963.

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