A sump pump is your first line of defense to prevent basement flooding: it forces water back out of your house where it belongs. Unless, of course, your sump pump isn’t working, in which case you may well end up with an unwanted swimming pool in your basement.

Don’t worry – it may well be something simple causing your sump pump woes. As the providers of the best basement waterproofing New Jersey can offer, we know all about sump pumps, including when to fix them yourself. Even if yours is a worst-case scenario, the cost of replacing sump pump equipment is far lower than you may think. Here’s a handy guide to when DIYing is OK – or when a bigger issue may be to blame.

Troubleshooting Checklist

If your sump pump isn’t doing its job, use this checklist to diagnose the issue.

  • Electricity: Just like other appliances in your home, your sump pump can’t work without electricity. Is it plugged in? Did it blow a fuse? Check both of these possibilities first thing. If it still isn’t working, cut off the electrical supply and take a closer look.
  • Float Switch: The float switch is located inside of the sump pit (the body of the pump) and looks like a little buoy. It senses when water is present, triggering the sump pump to turn on and off. However, the float switch is prone to malfunction, since it is easy for it to get stuck in debris or corners of the tank. Make sure that is it freely and happily dangling for best results.
  • Pump and Inlet: The screen of the pump can get clogged with gunk, which can stop the whole pump from working. This can also happen to the water inlet, which allows water to flow into the tank. Try clearing out any refuse and see of that helps.
  • Drain Line: Your drain line connects your pump to the great outdoors. If there is a clog deep in your drain line, it might have to be snaked out. Test for a clog by disconnecting the drain line from the rest of your sump pump and seeing if the rest of it is working. If it is, you may need to call in a plumber.

Your drain line can also get clogged by another substance: ice. For those of us who live in artic temperatures for half the year, this can be a legitimate concern. A little leg work with a hair dryer and some salt may fix the issue, as can modifications to the tilt of the drainage line.

You Get What You Pay For

If you can’t find anything wrong with your sump pump and it still isn’t working, chances are it’s not up to the job. A cheap sump pump is a cheap sump pump, and there’s only so much it can do. If your sump pump has less than 1/3 horsepower, it probably isn’t capable of meeting your needs. If you live below the water table or just have frequent flooding issues, look for a sump pump with at least 1/2 horsepower.

If you are better off getting a new sump pump, it’s nothing to stress about. The cost of replacing sump pump equipment is quite reasonable. Even a top-of-the-line sump pump will only cost you about $200. And trust us – once your basement is flooded, $200 will not seem like very much.

If you still aren’t able to determine why your sump pump isn’t working, or just want a second opinion, feel free to contact us. We are basement waterproofing New Jersey basements one house at a time, and our consultations are always free of charge.