Is Your Sump Pump Ready for Spring?


Spring is the time when a sump pump is most helpful for a home, removing excess water from rainfall that might enter into a basement or crawl space. A sump pump prevents flooding and extensive water damage, as well as an increase in humidity and a higher chance of mold and mildew growth.

If you don’t currently have a sump pump for your home, we strongly advise that you contact us and arrange for this service. Property loss due to water damage is expensive, making a sump pump an excellent investment.

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Did You Know?

Des Moines residents can save on a new sump pump system installation (only new installs). Called the “Private Property Protection” program. 

The City will reimburse 100% of the cost to property owners who meet the program requirements. The maximum subsidy amount is $1,500. The reimbursement will be paid to the property owner.

Go to the Des Moines’ website for more details.

How A Sump Pump Works

A sump pump consists of an excavated pit—the sump—and the actual pump itself. Water gathers inside the sump and then the pump automatically activates to draw out the water and send it into the wastewater system (or to a well if the house doesn’t have access to the municipal sewer system). There are some sump pump models that are manual and don’t turn on automatically, but because these are not as convenient as the standard model, they are not commonly installed in homes.

The sump is excavated in the lowest area of the basement or crawlspace and contains a gravel bottom. The pump is either placed down within the sump (a submersible pump) or on a stand above the sump (a pedestal pump). When water flows into the sump, the rise in water level will automatically activate the pump motor, either through a float activator arm or a pressure sensor that detects the presence of water. The motor draws on electrical energy from the household electrical system, usually through a standard GFCI outlet that reduces the hazard of electrocution. The motor powers a centrifugal pump that contains an impeller. The impeller forces the water up from the sump through a pipe and then sends it into the exit pipe. As soon as the water level drops, the pump shuts off once more.

How Do You Know If There’s a Problem?

Spring rains and winter runoff can overwhelm your sump pump.

Since sump pumps play a critical role in keeping your basement safe and dry, ensure that your sump pump is always working properly. A failing sump pump allows water to build up in your basement, causing mold growth and water damage. Knowing how to spot the early signs of trouble can save you a lot of money over the long run.

If your sump pump is making strange sounds, you have an issue that you need to address right away. Sump pumps that are in good shape are so quiet that you won’t even know they are there. When your sump pump stops removing water as fast as it once did, you have another warning sign on your hands.

The best way to defend your home against spring flooding is with a sump pump. A sump pump installed in a basement or crawlspace automatically removes excess water from the area and sends it into the wastewater system or a well.

How To Check Your Sump Pump

If you already have a sump pump installed for your house, make sure that it is prepped for potential floodwaters. There are a few basic steps you can take to see that the sump pump is in good shape. 

  1. Pour water into the sump (the water collection pit); 5 gallons is a good amount. The pump should automatically turn on.
  2. Wait for the pump to remove the water and shut itself off. Then pour in more water to see if the pump will turn back on and off. If the pump fails to come on in either test, schedule repairs for it right away.
  3. After testing the sump pump, check around the sump to see if there is any debris that may be sucked up into the pump as it operates. Remove as much as possible. Then clean out the weep hole of the pump, which is a hole located between the pump and the check valve. Use a toothpick or cotton swab to see that it’s clear.

If you’ve had your sump pump for a few years already, we recommend scheduling complete professional maintenance for it, even if it seems as if it’s working fine. This precaution ensures that any minor problem is caught before it can become a major problem.

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How Do You Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Sump Pump?

A good sump pump should last you 5 to 10 years, however, a sump pump is not running all the time. This makes it important that you are checking in on the sump pump’s functionality on a regular basis. To help you with this, we have listed 6 ways for you to easily identify potential issues, preventing your sump pump from failing before the next big storm.

  1. EXCESSIVE VIBRATIONS FROM SUMP PUMP. Along with taking in water, sump pumps can also suck up hard debris. This will eventually cause damage to the impeller. An impeller is a fan at the bottom of the pump that is drawing water into the pump. Impellers are designed to minimize the wear and tear on the shaft they spin on. But if you have a damaged impeller, that opens the shaft up to break down. This tension will also create problems for your sump pump in the future – not to mention the impeller is almost impossible to bend back. The safest thing to do once this happens is to replace your sump pump unit.
  2. YOUR SUMP PUMP IS RUSTY. If your sump pump is showing signs of rust, or brown coloring, it could be due to bacteria known as Iron Ochre. This will not cause an immediate issue, but as the rust feeds off the iron in the water, it can cause water discoloration and evolve into a gel-like substance that will clog your discharge line. It is not a hazard to our health but can affect your drainage system.
  3. INFREQUENT USAGE. If your sump pump is infrequently used, this will shorten the life of your sump pump. If you want to extend the life of the pump, testing it on a regular basis while it is not raining will help keep it in tip-top shape. Not only does this extend the life of the pump, but it allows you to fix any problems by the time the next rainfall hits. If you just purchased your home, contact Service Legends who can test the unit for you.
  4. MAKING STRANGE NOISES. If your sump pump is making strange noises, that could be a sign your pump is running on damaged or worn-out parts. Rattling noises most likely mean a jammed or damaged impeller. If you are hearing strange noises from your sump pump, make sure to call Service Legends for professional help immediately. Do not wait for the next rainfall when it is too late for your sump pump!
  5. YOUR SUMP PUMP IS RUNNING ALL OF THE TIME. The biggest cause of a continuously running sump pump is a switch problem. The float is primarily in charge of the on/off switch working smoothly. Switch issues can occur when the pump shifts inside the basin, and the float becomes ineffective. The other issue occurs when a switch loses connection with its power source. Switches that are tethered often drift to the side of the pump and are more likely to hang up on your sump basin. Vertical floats (with plastic brackets) will break often, and the vibrations from a pump that has not been properly installed may push any float switch against the side of the sump pump basin. If your sump pump is running constantly for no apparent reason, there is a high probability that your pump has not enough capacity to handle the amount of water required, and you will want to consider replacing your unit with a higher-powered unit.
  6. CYCLING IRREGULARLY. If you have found that your sump pump is irregularly going on and off, even when it is raining heavily, there are a few things that could be wrong. These are two popular reasons: 1) An incorrectly adjusted float switch causes the pump to come on even when there is barely any water accumulated in the basin. 2) There could be a shortage in the electrical system of your house or of the sump pump itself.

If you happen to have any of the above issues or have any concerns with your sump pump, be sure to contact us today.

Let Service Legends Help With All Your Plumbing Needs

No matter what plumbing problems come your way, Service Legends is ready to solve them. We take pride in our work and care about your plumbing as much as you do. If you want to have a sump pump installed for the spring season, or your current sump pump requires repairs, contact Service Legends. We offer full plumbing services and repairs in the greater Des Moines, IA area.

515-657-6634Request Appointment Online