Here's How Long Sump Pumps Should Last

Sump pump working - Mr. Plumber by Metzler & Hallam

Every piece of mechanical equipment has a useful service life that is greatly affected by factors such as usage and maintenance habits. The sump pump in your Indianapolis home is no different – eventually, you need to replace it with a new model.

What does a sump pump do? How long does a sump pump last? What can you do to extend the service life of your sump pump? We’ve put these great questions to our Indianapolis plumbers and have compiled their sump pump answers below. Learn about the job your sump pump does to protect your home and what you need to do to protect this equipment.

For sump pump installation and repair in the Indianapolis area and surrounding communities, call Mr. Plumber. We are a licensed, full-service plumbing contractor dedicated to caring for your residential plumbing needs.

Does My Indianapolis Home Need a Sump Pump?

If you experience dampness in your basement or crawl space, you should absolutely have a sump pump installed. Over 60 percent of homes across the country have this problem.

Groundwater seeps into basements and crawl spaces through foundation cracks, most notably after long rainy periods. Higher groundwater levels due to heavy rains cause some basements and crawl spaces to flood, leaving homeowners with extensive water damage and a nasty mess to clean.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a type of pump used to combat rising groundwater and prevent it from damaging your home. The sump pump is located in the home’s sump pit, which is located in the crawl space or basement of a home.

The sump pit or sump basin is a pit that is dug at the lowest level of your Indianapolis home’s basement or crawl space. Seeping groundwater collects within the pit, and the sump pump pumps water out of the pit when water levels in the pit reach a predetermined volume. Water is pumped out of the sump pit and carried away from your home through the sump system so it is no longer a risk to your home.

Sump pumps are often great insurance against water damage during heavy storms – unfortunately, Indiana storms come with the potential for power loss. If a storm has knocked out electrical power to your home, the sump pump cannot run – this leaves your basement or crawl space vulnerable to water damage.

It is a wise idea to have an auxiliary sump pump installed as backup in case of power failure. A marine battery is used to back up this system. This backup system protects your home in the event of both a power and/or an equipment failure to ensure excess groundwater is removed when needed.

How a Sump Pump Works

Standard sump pits have a gravel base and measure approximately two feet deep and 18 inches wide. Sump pumps with automatic activation turn on when the system’s float activator arm or pressure sensor initiate.

  • The float pressure arm functions much like your toilet’s float valve. The float sits on top of the water and raises the arm as water level increases.
  • A pressure sensor measures the pressure water exerts on the sensor, which increases as water level rises.

Most residential sump pumps use centrifugal motion to move water out of the sump pit. When the motor runs, the impeller spins to move water outward, making a low-pressure area at the center. Water moves to this area to fill the empty space as the impeller’s motion moves it to the drain pipe.

Manual sump pumps are available, which turn on only when you activate the system. Obviously, this is less convenient than an automatic system, and doesn’t offer the same level of protection. If you’re not home when water levels rise or simply do not turn on the system for other reasons, there is no protection against rising water levels in your basement or crawl space.

Types of Sump Pumps for Indianapolis Homes

There are two classes of sump pumps used in Indianapolis homes:

  • Submersible pumps
  • Pedestal pumps

Submersible Pumps

A submersible sump pump is positioned within the sump pit and is under water when operating. These waterproof pumps offer quiet operation due to their position below the pit’s water level. Their position down in the pit keeps them out of the way.

This type of pump is a stronger option than a pedestal pump, making it a better solution if your home is in an area that is at a higher risk or experiences more flooding. Submersible pumps are less likely to clog, but their service life is typically shorter than that of a pedestal pump.

Pedestal Pumps

As their name suggests, pedestal pumps have the motor positioned on top of a pedestal, with a hose that leads down to the sump pit. Water is drawn up through the hose and carried out to drain away from the home.

Pedestal pumps are ideal for homes in areas where there is a minor flooding risk, as they have less power than their submersible counterparts. Above water level, the pump is louder when operating, but is easily accessible for service.

Sizing a Sump Pump

Just like other equipment and systems throughout your home, sump pumps come in various sizes – the right size depends on the following factors:

  • The volume of water that must be pumped out of the pit
  • How high water must be pumped to exit the home
  • The size and length of the drainpipe

The highest horsepower model is not necessarily the best choice, just like the highest capacity air conditioner isn’t for cooling! Pumps must be sized properly for these needs and the size of the sump pit so that they are able to operate efficiently. Incorrectly sized sump pumps cycle more frequently, which wears out components much faster than a correctly sized unit, leading to early replacement. A sump pump that has a lower horsepower may not be the right choice as it may be incapable of accommodating maximum water drainage in your home. A knowledgeable plumber is able to determine the correct sump pump sizing to ensure your pump provides the protection you need.

How Long Does a Sump Pump Last?

Sump pumps offer a maximum average service life of 10 years. Quality sump pumps that are appropriately sized for your home should provide a minimum of three years of service.

Sump pump replacement averages around $1,000, but this price varies based on the type of equipment you choose, makes and models, and other unique factors specific to accommodate installation in your home.

Signs You Need Sump Pump Replacement

A sump pump failure poses a big threat to Indianapolis households – when the pump does not operate correctly to remove excess groundwater, flooding results. The following symptoms are clues that help homeowners know it’s time for sump pump replacement.

  • Unusual noises coming from the sump pump when running – these noises indicate malfunctioning components.
  • Excessive vibrations when in use, which is the sign of damaged impellers within the pump.
  • The pump runs around the clock, which indicates a problem with the switch, or an inability to accommodate the sump pit’s water load.
  • Infrequent use – a sump pump that rarely runs experiences a shorter service life versus one that is used on a consistent basis, much like a vehicle battery.
  • Irregular pump cycles, which could indicate electrical shorts somewhere in the system.
  • Long pump cycles, which indicate your pump may not have enough power to handle the water volume or distance required.
  • Rust on the pump, which can inhibit operation and lead to issues with drainage system water flow.
  • A sticking motor, which can be caused by wiring failures within the equipment.
  • Reoccurring power outages or surges, which have the potential to damage the sump pump system.

Sump Pump Maintenance in Indianapolis

Proper sump pump care is important to helping your equipment function properly and reliably, as well as to keep it in service for longer periods. Protect this insurance against flooding and conserve costs associated with early replacement when you practice sump pump maintenance on a regular basis.

Monthly and Quarterly Maintenance Tasks

  • Clean the pump screen or inlet opening monthly if your sump pit collects wastewater from your home’s washing machine.
  • These components should be cleaned quarterly if no washing machine wastewater exits through the sump pit.

Annual Maintenance Tasks

  • Clean the sump pump and sump pit once per year.
  • Check your owner’s manual to determine if the pump’s bearings require lubrication. Apply appropriate lubrication if called for, or contact your plumber for sump pump maintenance service to cover this step.
  • Inspect the power cord for damage and ensure it is plugged in.
  • Reinsert the pump (if submersible), place a bucket of water into the sump pit which raises the float pressure arm to initiate a pump cycle – adjust the float level if necessary.

Get Sump Pump Help Now

If your sump pump isn’t running properly, your home is at risk of water damage and more. Call Mr. Plumber at the first sign of trouble for quick, quality sump pump repair. If it’s time to replace the sump pump in your Indianapolis home, we are here to provide expert installation of long-lasting equipment.

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