Winter in Virginia Beach, VA is unlikely to leave your property covered in snow. In fact, locals are lucky if they see more than an inch or two throughout winter. However, it's still important to prime your sump pump before the warm season comes rolling in. Although this unit won't encounter a ton of snowmelt, it still has to stand up to a pretty soggy spring. Following are six easy ways you can get started now.
1. Take Care of Your Quarterly Maintenance
Your sump pump should receive professional service once each year. However, this unit has a number of quarterly maintenance requirements as well. You should inspect, clean, and test your sump pump every three to four months. Quarterly sump pump maintenance includes:
- Unplugging the unit and removing all standing water from its basin
- Removing all build-ups of solid debris at the basin interior
- Checking the inlet screen and clearing obstructions
- Plugging the unit back in and filling the basin
When testing the float switch, you should use approximately five gallons of water. If you're uncomfortable handling these quarterly maintenance tasks on your own or if you run into any problems, give us a call. You should also schedule professional service if your inlet screen or any other components need replacement.
2. Schedule Annual Maintenance service
Every system comprised of a yard, drainage situation, and sump pump is different. Depending upon the grading and slope of your yard, winter might be your sump pump's busiest season. However, for most Virginia Beach residents, spring rains are when these units are really put to the task. If it has been more than a year since our last maintenance call, schedule a professional sump pump tune-up now. These visits entail quite a bit more than the measures that you take on your own when performing quarterly maintenance. We start by unplugging the unit and removing it from the basin entirely. This way, we have a clear view of everything that's going on. Our inspection involves a thorough assessment of the entire sump pump, including its overall integrity and its installation. This task includes the following steps:
- Checking for evidence of rust or other forms of corrosion
- Looking for signs of mold
- Cleaning the unit’s inlet screen and replace as needed
- Lubricating all unsealed bearing
- Eliminating all trapped debris at and around the sump pump
When we're through, we'll plug your unit back in and give it a test run using about five gallons of water. We verify that water is moving seamlessly throughout the entire system. We'll finish up by making sure that the pump's discharge pipe is clear. Both quarterly and annual maintenance will extend the life of this essential appliance. If you have an active manufacturer's warranty on your sump pump or a home warranty that covers it, diligent maintenance will also help you remain compliant with the terms of these agreements. More importantly, your efforts to take good care of your sump pump will ensure that you don't get stuck with a basement full of water when you least expect it. Preventative maintenance doesn't take long, and it can go a long way toward protecting your home's foundation.
3. Inspecting the Discharge Pipes
Your quarterly preventative maintenance should include a thorough inspection of the discharge pipe and the area around it. Overgrown grass, dirt, or plants should never obstruct the discharge pipe. If your sump pump is able to fully drain through the discharge pipe, you shouldn't see any standing water. If there is standing water inside or around the pipe, call for professional help. Although freezing temperatures are unlikely, a surprising, late-season dip in the weather could lead to a burst pipe. It is possible that your discharge pipe needs an extension. It should be 10 to 20 feet away from the house. This prevents the soil close to the home from absorbing the water and damaging the foundation. If necessary, you can dig a trench to redirect the water flow. Having lots of residual water in this area can also be problematic once spring actually arrives. Stagnant, standing water attracts insects. If you've had problems with mosquitoes, ants, or termites in the past, incomplete drainage at your sump pump's discharge pipe could be partially at fault. Insects like these are drawn to pooling water. For many six-legged pests, stagnant water makes for excellent breeding grounds.
4. Test the Unit’s Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter
Electricity and water are always a dangerous mix. Unfortunately, your sump pump needs constant access to electricity while it operates in a wet environment. Thus, the pump is legally required to be installed at a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacle. This way, both the power supply and the sump pump's operations can be brought to an immediate halt if the risk of electrocution ever arises. Although GFCI receptacles make sump pump installations safe, even safeguards like these are not impervious to failure. Take a minute to press the reset and test buttons on this receptacle to make sure that it's functioning as it should.
5. Consider an Alternate Power Supply
Power outages due to strong winds and other events can leave you without a functioning sump pump when you need it most. If your basement is extremely prone to flooding or if you've had flooding-related foundation issues before, you may want to consider installing a backup power supply. Backup generators will seamlessly transition your home's electricity demands from the standard power grid to a backup supply in the event of an outage. With the right generator, not only will you always have a functioning sump pump, but you'll also be able to continue using all of your other home appliances.
6.Does Your Home Need Surge Protection?
One very important part of making sure that your sump pump is ready for spring is verifying that your current electrical system can support it. Do your lights flicker off and on whenever a major appliance starts up? Has it been a while since your home's electrical system has been updated? If so, it may be time to schedule an appointment for an electrical update. If your home's electrical wiring is already modern enough to accommodate all of your gadgets, flickering lights could be an indication of inconsistent power flow from your utility company. Although these incredibly brief interruptions don't actually cause your power to go out, they can have a significant and potentially permanent impact on everything you have plugged in. This includes your sump pump. The best way to preserve the life span of your sump pump and everything else is by having whole-house surge protection installed.
Miller's Heating & Air Conditioning has been proudly serving residents of Virginia Beach, VA for more than 40 years. We offer residential heating, cooling, plumbing, and electrical installation, maintenance and repair services. We also provide heating oil delivery and tanks, air purifiers and cleaners, UV light filtration systems and commercial HVAC services. If you need help priming your sump pump for the coming spring weather, we've got you covered. Contact Miller's Heating & Air Conditioning now!