NDSU Extension - Griggs County

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April 6

The Extension Connection

By Megan Vig

               

                Though it seems like winter is never ending, we know it has to end one of these days, right?  Soon we will depend heavily on the sump pumps, a true sign of spring!  A sump pump is many homeowners’ first line of defense against getting water in the basement.  Sump pumps are available in two basic models: upright (commonly called a pedestal) and submersible.  The sump, which is the pit where the pump sits, may be connected to drain tile that drains the footings of the house, the area under the entire basement or just the area where the sump is located. Many houses have tile installed only around a portion of the house.  The water that drains into the sump must be removed with a sump pump.

                The pedestal pump’s motor is on top of the pedestal and the pump is at the base, which sits on the bottom of the sump.  The motor is not meant to get wet.  A ball float turns the pump on and off.  One advantage of this type of pump is that the on/off switch is visible, so you can see the ball float’s action.  Submersible pumps are designed to be under water on the bottom of the sump.  The on/off switch is attached to the pump.

                Pumps have three main types of on/off controls.  1) Ball float, which is attached to the pump and connected to an internal watertight switch.  2) Sealed, tethered float switch with an on/off setting that is adjustable by changing the length of the tether. 3) Diaphragm, which senses the water level and turns the pump on and off. 

                Both types of pumps should have a check valve on the water discharge pipe so water doesn’t flow back into the sump when the pump shuts off.  Water flowing back into the sump can cause the pump to turn on and off more frequently than necessary, which decreases the life of the pump.  To check the pump: 1) Make sure the discharge pipe on the side of the house is not frozen shut or plugged and that it directs water away from the house.  2) Make sure the pump is plugged in.  3) Remove the lid (if the sump has one) and use a flashlight to check if the sump is clean and the pump inlet screens are not plugged. 4) Slowly pour water into the sump.  Try to simulate the speed that water normally would flow into the sump.  5) Watch the on/off switch’s action and listen to the pump.  Make sure the pump turns on and off at least twice.  If something doesn’t work or sound right, fix it as soon as possible.  Source: NDSU Extension Flood Information.

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