Home Inspection Insights

Lawrence M. Watkins, Specsure Property Inspections

Home Inspector:EZ Sump Pump Maintenance

sump pump inspectionOne quick look outside and  we are reminded we are in the midst of a deep freeze.  Spring?  It seems like it’s still eons away.

Well, a glance at the calendar tells us differently.  And with Spring, comes melting snow and rain; a perfect recipe for water seeping into our basements.

With that in mind, now is the ideal time to make sure your sump pump is ready to stand up to the demands of the Spring thaw.  As a seasoned home inspector, providing property inspections throughout all of Western New york for over 24 years,  I thought I would list of a few simple steps you can take to make sure your sump pump is up to the challenge.

• Ideally, the sump pump should be connected to a GFCI protected power supply.  GFCI is a safety device that automatically interrupts the power supply should a short or malfunction in the electrical supply or appliance occur.

• Make sure your sump pump is properly and securely seated in the sump pit.

• Remove loose debris and mud from the sump pit.  Make sure your sump pit is lined to reduce the opportunity for debris or mud to accumulate and potentially damage or clog the pump.

• Pour water into the sump pit to cause the pump to automatically turn on, thus verifying it does indeed work.

• Adjust the pump so it turns on before the water collects in the incoming drain tile (pipes).

• If your pump is the submersible type, disconnect it from the power supply and remove it from the sump pit.  Clean the bottom of the pump to ensure it is free of debris and mud.

• Ensure the discharge pipes are secure and free of leaks.  Discharge pipes should extend a minimum of 10 feet from the foundation (farther is better).

• Should a power failure occur, have a back up in place.


One last suggestion, you might want to buy a spare sump pump and put it on a shelf in your basement.  Trust me, when the one in the pit quits, it will not be a convenient time and there may very well be low supplies at the local home improvement center.  Having one on hand when your pump dies is half the battle to keeping your basement dry.