Does Your Sump Pump Pump?

Many buildings in New York City have sump pumps; they are essential. Unfortunately, the only time we hear from our customers regarding their sump pumps is when they fail. Sump pumps generally do not run around the clock, but if they fail when needed, extensive water damage can result. To prevent unnecessary water damage, we encourage periodic preventative maintenance and testing. First, let’s talk about your sump pump.

Why Does Your Building Need a Sump Pump?

The purpose of a sump pump is to eliminate water in a building’s basement that the existing sewage system cannot naturally expel. Sump pumps are to a building as a bilge pump is to a boat. Most of the time, water leaves the building by flowing directly into the sewer system. From time to time, water cannot find its way into the sewer system because it accumulates below the level of the sewer entrance. In situations like this, gravity is unable to move the excess water into the sewer because the basement floor lies below the entrance to the sewer system. A sump pump’s job is to pump this water out of the basement.

In general, excess water accumulation levels in any basement are quite small and of no consequence. However, a variety of unplanned events may result in sudden excess water accumulation; you’ll want to ensure your sump pump is ready to handle these events. Some of the more common events include, but are not limited to: i) a major pipe leak inside the building, ii) a water main break outside the building, and iii) the sudden activation of an underground stream within the foundation of the building. When water accumulates, a well-maintained sump pump will be able to prevent water damage by pumping all excess water into the building’s sewer exit.

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

In most buildings, a pit under the basement floor (the “sump basin”) collects the aforementioned excess water accumulation; once the water reaches a certain level, the sump pump turns on and pumps the excess water to the sewer system. The sump basin should be large enough to prevent overflow during emergency situations. The sump pump’s motor is placed atop the sump basin, such that a sensor can activate the pump when the basin’s water level reaches the critical level. The sump pump shuts off again when the water goes below the critical level.

Regular Inspection Can Prevent Pump Failure

Sump pump failures usually result from a malfunctioning motor, defective valves, or debris accumulation in the sump basin.  Regular inspection of your sump pump can prevent unnecessary pump failure and subsequent water damage. Plumbing contractors, pump repair companies, and electrical contract companies all perform pump inspections.

Sump pumps usually perform effectively and quietly. Only when they fail do people notice their existence; it is usually at that point that they realize that their pump had been neglected. By inspecting your building’s sump pump during the year, you can be sure that your tenants will remain oblivious to their hard-working sump pump.