Do you live in a flat or low-lying area with soil that readily traps water? Has your home experienced flooding or water damage in the past?

If so, a sump pump may be the only thing standing between your clean, dry, comfortable basement and an extensive, expensive water restoration project. Sump pumps keep the area under a home dry and prevent flooding by removing excess water from around the foundation, safely shunting it away from the home. 

But, as with any equipment, sump pumps experience wear and tear and need to be evaluated and tested at least twice a year to ensure proper operation. Fortunately, this testing is easy and only takes a few minutes. Here’s what you need to know:

When to Test your Sump Pump

Sump pumps should be tested twice yearly, before the heavy rains and rising rivers that are common during Michigan’s Spring and Fall seasons.

How to Test a Home Sump Pump

  1. Clean and Clear Your Exterior Drain Pipe  

The first step is to check the sump pit and drain pipe for anything that could be clogging up the system. Clean it up and make sure that water can flow away from your foundation without issue. Also, watch for any oil floating on the surface of the water, as this could indicate a coolant leak, which would need to be repaired by a qualified professional.

  1. Inspect the Unit

Depending on your pump, you should have either one or two cords running to an outlet from your sump pump. Unplug the unit and make sure the intake, impeller, and weep holes are all clear, cleaning them out as necessary. 

Diagrams of your specific unit, as well as specific maintenance instructions and schedules, should be available in your sump pump’s included user manual.

  1. Check the Pump’s Power

If you have two cords, the first is the pump cord and will be plugged into the back of the float cord. To test your system, unplug the two cords and plug in the pump cord only.  This should trigger the pump motor to start. Once you’ve made sure the system works, replace both cords and leave them plugged in. 

If your sump pump has only one cord, or you want to perform a more thorough check, you can test the system by slowly pouring several gallons of water into the pump pit. This will cause the float to rise, triggering the pump to drain the water you’ve added before once again shutting off as the float drops.

Sump pumps typically last seven to 10+ years, performing better and longer when kept clean and in good repair. If you experience problems, consider calling Godwin to schedule repairs or visiting your local Grand Rapids Godwin store for an excellent selection of sump pumps, backup sump pump solutions, and sump pump components.