Archive for the ‘Sump Pumps & Your Basement’ Category

Is Your Sump Pump Working Propertly – guest blogger Dave Cobosco



Hopefully, given all the recent rains, yours has been.   However, at least twice a year, a sump pumps should be checked for proper operation. Manufacturer instructions should be used as the primary guide for pump installation and maintenance, but here are some general guidelines.




With the pump cord disconnected:


ñ Make sure there is a grounded three-prong receptacle for the sump pump.


ñ Ideally the receptacle should be installed at least 18 inches above the floor.


ñ The receptacle should also be close enough so that the pump cord (usually maximum 6-feet long) can be plugged directly into the receptacle.


ñ If a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is installed at the receptacle outlet or in the electric panel, make sure it is working. Use the test button on the unit to confirm proper ground-fault protection.*


ñ Inspect the sump pit for any silt or debris that might obstruct the float or clog the pump impeller or discharge tube.


ñ Make sure the pump is positioned so that the movement of the float that turns the pump on and off is not obstructed by the walls of the pit or other objects.


ñ If needed set the float height to start the pump at a lower or higher level. The float should be set that it keeps the water toward the bottom at the normal high water line.


ñ Check for a small (3/16 to 3/8 inch) hole in the tube directly above the pump. Add if needed, or clear the hole if blocked. This hole helps prevent a possible airlock in the discharge lines.


ñ Check the drain line from the pump to the termination point on the exterior for any signs of corrosion, holes, damage or leaks.


ñ Make sure the line is secured every three feet or so.


ñ Add a check valve in the discharge line at the pump if not present.


Note: A GFCI is a safety device. It is generally not required on dedicated single receptacles used for sump pumps. GFCI could trip for various reasons, rendering the sump pump inoperative. If a GFCI is present, check before storms to make sure the GFCI is turned on and sump pump is operational.




Once the visual check is made, an operational check can be performed:


ñ Confirm the pump is securely plugged directly into the receptacle. (Once again – no extension cords).


ñ If the sump pit is empty, add enough water, if possible, to confirm the pump turns on and off properly.


ñ With a sump pump with automatic preset sensor switches, if water exceeds the top of the pump before turning on, or if the pump does not shut off when water drops again, there may be a defective sensor or other problem. Refer to the manufacture set-up instructions.


ñ If the pump uses an adjustable float switch, the pump should turn on at the set-on level and off when the water level drops.


ñ A small stream of water should spray out of the weep hole near the pump to prevent airlock.


ñ The pump should not have to run all the time. If it does, try setting the float or pump higher in the pit. If this doesn’t help keep the water from the top of the sump; a larger pump may be needed.


ñ Check the drainline for any leakage.


ñ Go outside and check the drainline discharge point. It should be positioned to discharge the water at least 5 to10 feet from the foundation at a point where the runoff doesn’t cause ponding backflow to the foundation or erosion.


ñ In areas subject to free temperatures, precautions must be taken to make sure the drain line does not freeze up or get blocked by ice or snow.


ñ Sump pumps should not be connected to sanitary sewer systems (unless locally approved) or private sewage (septic) systems.


Backup pumps and alarms.


ñ If you do not have a backup, consider adding one, especially if your pump runs regularly or there is a high flood potential.


ñ If your sump system is equipped with battery backup, check the manufacturer maintenance instructions. It may be necessary to check the battery water level to make sure it covers the cells.


ñ Inspect the backup pump setup in the pit for obstructions etc., as was done for the primary pump.


ñ The float should be set or pump positioned so it only activates if the primary pump does not.


ñ Unplug the primary pump and add water to the pit, if possible, so that the backup runs.


ñ Plug the primary cord back after the backup test is complete.


ñ If you have a high water alarm, it should activate when the float is raised, or if sensor type, when water hits the sensor.


ñ Depending on the set up, an alarm may sound when the primary is unplugged or when the backup activates.


Remember, these tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at Or contact:




Dave Cobosco




409 Middlesex Turnpike


Billerica, MA  01821


C:  508-479-1773


O:  866-313-7732


Was just thinking how appropriate this article is given the thunderstorms that are currently rumbling thru Essex and Middlesex County.  Hopefully your sump pump is working properly……. Joan Parcewski, Woods Real Estate




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