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What to Do When Your Sump Pump Fails

Posted by ServiceMaster YSI | September 29th, 2021 | No responses

Anyone who lives in an area that is susceptible to flooding certainly understands the importance of a reliable and well-functioning sump pump. People rely on sump pumps to keep their basement protected from flooding, but sometimes sump pumps fail – and it’s important to know what to do in the event of a sump pump failure. Continue reading for more information on sump pumps, sump pump failures, and how to handle a sump pump failure during a flood in your home.

Common Causes of Sump Pump Failure

Sump pumps, like many home appliances and mechanical devices malfunction and fail sometimes. Here are some of the most common causes for sump pump failure:

  • Loss of power – Rain and thunderstorms are two of the most common causes of basement flooding. Unfortunately, power outages go hand-in-hand with rain and thunderstorms. If your power goes out during a storm, your sump pump will not work.
  • Old or outdated unit – According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the average lifespan of a sump pump is 10 years. If your sump pump is getting up there in age, be proactive and give it a thorough inspection before the rainy season begins.
  • Installation issues – Sump pumps are complex pieces of machinery that play a vital role in keeping your home protected from the elements. It is critical that the entire unit is assembled and installed correctly. If you’re going to install your own sump pump, be sure to contact a plumber or other sump pump installation professional if you have any questions or concerns about the installation process.
  • Pressure switch malfunction – Sump pumps are alerted and kicked into gear when enough water buildup within the basin triggers a pressure switch. If your sump pump has a faulty switch or the switch gets stuck, the sump pump will fail to activate.
  • Lack of maintenance – It’s always a good idea to inspect your sump pump each year before the rainy season begins, especially if there was heavy flooding during the prior season. A maintenance inspection will alert you to issues such as a clogged strainer or blocked discharge pipe, both of which can be jammed with excess debris. Give your sump pump a good cleaning before flood season starts.

My Sump Pump Failed – Now What?

Whatever the reason may be for your sump pump failure, you need to take action – and fast! The longer you wait to do so, the worse the damage will get. Here are a few actions you can take to mitigate the water damage to your basement in the event that your sump pump fails:

  • Use a wet/dry vacuum – If you own a shop vac (and assuming you have not lost your power), you can start removing standing water bit by bit. Be sure to empty it out every so often so that it does not overfill with water.
  • Start mopping – If you’ve lost power and don’t have access to a shop vac, you can start mopping any standing water. Be sure to dump the mop bucket at least 20 feet away from your house. Please note that this option really only works with mild flooding – more severe flooding will require the services of a water damage restoration company.
  • Use a hand pump – If there isn’t too much standing water, a hand pump is a good option as well. All you need to do is put the hand pump inside the sump pump basin, attach a hose to the hand pump, run the hose through a nearby window (or to a large bucket), and start pumping.
  • Keep your basement dry – Removing as much water and moisture from the flooded area as possible will minimize the amount of damage to your basement. Open any windows and doors to facilitate drying and ventilation and set up portable fans if they are available.
  • Call the professionals – A lot of the time, there will simply be too much water to remove on your own. You’ll definitely want to consider utilizing a professional water damage restoration company, who will have the heavy-duty equipment needed to get the job done efficiently and correctly.

Preventing Sump Pump Failure

There are plenty of ways to ensure your sump pump won’t fail. Here are some preventative measures you can take to prevent sump pump failure:

  • Clean and inspect – As stated earlier, perform some maintenance on your unit before the rainy season starts – give it a good cleaning and inspection.
  • Run a test on it – Check and see if the unit is working properly with a small flood simulation. Pour a bit of water into the sump basin. If the pump activates the way it should and pumps out the small amount of water, you should be good to go. Run a few tests in the months leading up to flood season.
  • Battery backup – One of the best ways to make sure the sump pump still operates in the event of a power loss is to purchase one with a battery backup. This will ensure that the pump is still operable even when the electricity goes out during a bad storm.

If you live in the Quincy, Illinois area and have suffered water damage due to leaks or flooding, be sure to call ServiceMaster Cleaning and Restoration for all of your water damage restoration needs.


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