Sump Pump Maintenance - Winter Repair


When a torrential downpour strikes your residential area, the last thing you want to experience is sump pump failure. In order to protect your home from water damage and flooding, a sump pump is a necessity – and you should know how to maintain it in order to prevent stressful, expensive and, most of all, avoidable problems.

To help, here’s a guide to sump pump maintenance, along with practical tips to prevent water damage.

What is a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are incredibly useful in the prevention of water damage and flooding to your home. A sump pump is a small pump installed in the lowest part of a basement or crawlspace, used to remove water that’s accumulated in a water-collecting sump basin. Its main purpose is to help keep the foundation of your home dry and prevent the build up of water and mold.

What to Expect When a Sump Pump Fails

With regular maintenance, you can expect a sump pump to last about 10 years. However, if you don’t perform routine maintenance, debris clogs the system or your pump line freezes, it’s likely that your sump pump will fail. When it fails, you’ll know it – water will start backing up in your basement or crawl space and lead to flood damage and/or mold growth.

Common Causes of Sump Pump Failure

There are a few common causes of sump pump failure. If you’re experiencing water backup or flooding, you may be facing these issues:

  • Power failure – when your home is hit by a rainstorm, it’s always possible that your power could go out. This will cause the sump pump to stop working unless you have a backup battery in place.
  • Improper sump pump installation – installing a sump pump yourself may lead to water damage down the road. It’s generally recommended to hire a professional to install the fixture.
  • Neglected yearly maintenance – to maintain a sump pump, refer to the user manual. Some require upkeep every few months, while some recommend yearly maintenance.
  • Wrong size sump pump – if you install a sump pump that’s too small, it may not be capable of pumping out all the water. On the other hand, when a sump pump is too big, the pump is forced to work harder, resulting in a shorter product lifespan.

Sump Pump Tips: Preventative Maintenance

Spring and summer seasons are notorious for sump pump failure and subsequent water damage. It’s crucial to keep up with maintenance of your sump pump to avoid preventable failures. We at ServiceMaster always receive a high volume of sump pump related calls this time of year, so we figured we’d lend a helping hand to those facing similar issues.

If you’re worried your sump pump may be failing or if it’s already broken, here are some tips for preventing this type of loss.

Actions to take inside your home to prevent sump pump failure:

  • Install a battery backup for the sump pump so it can continue operating if you lose power during a storm or outage.
  • Install a sump pump alarm to alert you when the water in the basin gets too high.
  • Install a sewer backflow check valve if sewage has backed up through the floor drain.
  • Do a yearly check on your sump pump to ensure that it’s working properly. Follow the steps below to keep it in good condition:
    1. Remove the cover from the sump pump pit to access the sump basin.
    2. Check the drain hose to make sure that it’s connected properly.
    3. Fill-up a bucket of water and slowly pour the water into the basin.
    4. Fill the basin until the float (usually a buoyant ball) rises high enough to engage the pump.
    5. If the pump seems to be malfunctioning, overflowing or completely broken, If the contact a professional to get it repaired.

Actions to take outside the home to prevent sump pump failure:

  • Ensure your home’s drainage directs water away from the house and gutters and downspouts are clear from debris.
  • Install well covers on your windows, especially basement windows, to keep water out of your home.
  • Remove all trees growing next to the foundation – the roots can crack the foundation walls allowing water to enter.
  • Install downspout extensions if water from the downspout collects near the foundation.

Outdoor Sump Pump in Winter: Tips for Maintaining

While sump pumps tend to fail in spring and summer months when rainfall is at its highest level, they can sometimes be used year round. The most common issue homeowners face is a frozen sump pump hose which is prone to bursting and causing significant water damage.

The majority of sump pumps have an extension hose that removes the water from the sump basin and diverts it away from the home. While the sump pump extension hose is invaluable during spring and summer, during the winter months, it can wreak havoc on your sump pump. Fortunately, this problem is easy to prevent with proper sump pump winter maintenance.

Actions to take to prevent your sump pump hose from freezing:

  1. To prevent your outdoor sump pump hose from freezing, which may lead to a damaged sump pump or a flooded home, remove the hose when the temperature outside dips below freezing.
  2. If the hose becomes clogged with ice, simply unplug the sump pump so it will not operate. Remove water from the pit and let the hose thaw or simply remove the extension hose and try to operate the pump that way.
  3. Make sure the hose is properly connected to the sump pump with a pipe clamp that is securely fastened – this will prevent the most common causes of sump pump failure.

Need help with your sump pump? Get in touch with the restoration experts at ServiceMaster today!

With our unparalleled expertise and extensive experience in a variety of home restoration services, we’ll help you take care of your sump pump problem, fast. With our commitment to exceeding client expectations and 24/7/365 service availability, we’re well prepared to fulfill your unique restoration needs.

No matter what type of damage is affecting you and your home, ServiceMaster will help get your property back to its normal form and your life back on track.

Get in Touch! Contact ServiceMaster now by calling (612) 354-5466 or filling out a form on our contact page. Get in touch now!


Frequently Asked Questions: 

What is a sump pump?

The sump pump is key to preventing water damage in your home. It is a small pump you place in your basement, at the lowest point to pump any water out and away from your home. This pump is not always running but is in fact triggered by water buildup, allowing you to save energy and keep your basement dry at the same time.

What are the signs my sump pump has failed?

While the most obvious way to tell if a sump pump has failed is water damage or flooding in your basement, you should also watch for mold growth. Mold is an indicator of moisture and could be an early indicator that your sump pump is not working properly. So if you find mold one of the lowest points in your basement, be sure to check your sump pump.

What causes sump pump failure?

There are numerous reasons sump pumps fail. However, the most common reasons include power failure, improper installation, the lack of regular maintenance, or the wrong size pump being installed in the first place. Obviously, the majority of these are very preventable, so if you are having sump pump issues make sure to check these issues first.

Click below for more Sump Pump tips from our previous article:

Sump Pump Tips