What’s the most important appliance in your house? You might be surprised to find out that if your house is like a lot of others it’s one you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about: the sump pump.
If the water table around your house is high enough, you’re going to have water that seeps into your basement and foundation. This is especially true during heavy rains and during periods of excessive snowmelt when groundwater levels are at their peak. Depending on the water table and other variables, this can mean either a little dampness or all-out flooding. The latter is something you definitely want to avoid, but even minor cases of water leakage can cause serious damage to your home’s foundation. That’s where the sump pump comes in.
What is a sump pump and why is it so important?
A sump pump consists of two parts: a float switch and a mechanical pump. The entire mechanism is placed in a sump pit at the lowest level of a house’s basement. When moisture leaks into the basement the water level rises, eventually lifting the float switch high enough that it activates the pump. The water is then pumped out of the basement through a discharge pipe.
Without a working sump pump, basements can become severely flooded, resulting in damage to other appliances, items in storage. Even without flood conditions, sump pumps reduce the dampness that can lead to mold and mildew.
What are common issues with sump pumps, and how should they be addressed?
Most sump pumps run on electricity, so a common issue is lost power and motor failure. Sump pumps should be checked regularly to make sure they’re working properly. During periods of heavy rainfall or when flooding is most likely, additional checkups are warranted.
A battery backup is a wise investment to diminish the threat of external power failure. If your sump pump’s motor is burned out or otherwise broken, it may just need repair. In some cases however a full replacement is needed. There are professional sump pump repair services available in most areas, or if you’re handy you can (carefully) take a look at yourself.
Another common problem with sump pump systems is a faulty or failing discharge pipe. Make sure it is wide enough to accommodate the volume and rate of water discharge, and it carries the water far enough away that it doesn’t just seep back. Depending on your home and specific runoff conditions, a simple pipe that extends a few feet from the side of the house might be sufficient, or a longer underground line might be needed. If the pump itself seems to be functional but water isn’t draining properly, there might be a leak or blockage in the drain pipe.
Float switch failure is a major issue with many sump pump systems. Sump pump floats are a lot like the rubber floats in your toilet tank. They can often get stuck on the side of the sump pit, resulting in malfunction and flooding. In other cases, improper maintenance or simple wear can cause the switch itself to fail. In this case, the float switch will need to be completely replaced.
There are a few different kinds of sump pump float switches. The most common is a tethered float, which hangs from the pump on a tether. Vertical switches hang less freely and therefore are less likely to become stuck. These are simple mechanical switches, but for greater reliability and to eliminate the possibility of stuck floats, electronic multilevel switches are also sometimes used: water probes are installed at low and high-level points in the sump switch; when water reaches either level the pump is either activated or deactivated as needed.
Replacement Sump Pump Float Switches
If you need a replacement float switch for your home’s sump pump, SMD Fluid Controls’ FN20 mechanical sump switches are among the best on the market today. Capable of meeting custom, commercial, and industrial needs, the FN20 is a model of quality and versatility. SMD Fluid Controls also offers a wide selection of other custom float switches and liquid level sensors, including customized multilevel switches and side-mounted horizontal switches.