Best Maintenance Tips for Your Sump Pump

You have probably never given much thought to how your home stays protected from groundwater seeping in. But underneath your home, your sump pump continues to monitor and prevent groundwater from reaching your home’s interior. Depending on your proximity to groundwater, you may require your sump pump to regularly expel water away from your home. If you live in an area that does not get exposed to groundwater, your sump pump may not activate at all.  But no matter where you live, it is important to know the location and general operations of your sump pump in the event your home does require its usage. Let’s review some of the important things you should know about sump pump maintenance and how to install a sump pump to protect your home.

What Is a Sump Pump?

Your sump pump is located in the sump pit, a lined hole usually in the basement of your home. It is submerged in water and activates when water levels reach a dangerous level. This activates the sump pump to expel the water. Once the water levels return to a safe height, the pump will shut down.

What Does a Sump Pump Do?

Your sump pump is monitoring water levels around your home 24/7. It will activate under two common occurrences:

  • High groundwater – As we discussed earlier your sump pump keeps groundwater from getting into your home. Groundwater usually enters from below the home or sideways through rock-filled drains. The sump pit captures this water and expels it outside. 
  • Flooding – Home flooding can be unpredictable. Sudden storms can cause groundwater to swell, especially if you live in a drier climate. A broken pipeline can send water rushing toward your home, leaving you at risk of interior flooding. A good quality sump pump can expel up to 5,000 gallons per hour.

How Often to Maintain Your Sump Pump

Even if your home is at low risk of flooding it is still a good idea to check your sump pump once a year. The best time of year to check is in early spring when groundwater is at its highest from winter thawing and water runs off. It is also a good idea to do regular inspections throughout the year, particularly if a water main break has occurred near your home or there has been a sudden storm.

How to Maintain Sump Pump

Regular sump pump maintenance is recommended to ensure that you never have to worry about your home being affected by a sudden increase in groundwater.

  • Make sure you know where your sump pump is located. It should be in the basement or a crawlspace. 
  • Check that the pump is upright when the float ball is moving freely.
  • Test the sump pump by pouring water into the system to see if it triggers a response and the water is expelled.
  • Check the GFCI electrical connection to ensure that the power is working and the circuit breaker is set.

Common Problems and Solutions

You may never need your sump pump, but that does not mean that it can’t experience technical or maintenance issues. These are some of the most common sump pump issues. 

  • Sump Pump Does Not Turn On: Check the water levels. If they are too low, your unit will not activate. Check the breaker and service panel too. A blown fuse may be preventing your unit from turning on. 

  • Sump Pump Does Not Shut Off: Make sure the float switch is working. Check the pipes to make sure there are no blockages. If your unit is still overworking, it could be time to upgrade to a larger capacity sump pump. 

  • Sump Pump Starts and Stops Too Frequently: Check to ensure the sump pump piping is not blocked. This can trigger your unit to turn on even when there is no water present.

Contact The Pros

The professional sump pump technicians at Summit Drain can help ensure water doesn’t get into your home. We offer regular service and sump pump installation solutions so your home is always protected.


A main sewer line blockage can cause water to backup in random places. For instance, you run your washing machine and notice your sink overflowing – this can be a clear sign that you have a clogged drain line.

If you have ruled out a potential sewer drain clog, you can rinse your sewer drain by flushing it with water. When you flush your lines, try adding a bit of drain cleaner to the water. A great place to flush your sewer line is the toilet – a larger amount of water and drain cleaner can enter your system quickly and easily. Unfortunately, if you do this when you have a clog, it can cause backup and potential flooding – if this is the case, clear the clog first.

You should generally know if your sewer line is blocked with slow drainage. The purpose of the sewer line is to take all the water drainage away from your house via sinks, bathtubs or toilets – if you find that there is slower drainage in one drain then you can essentially clear that yourself using a drain snake or a plunger.

There is confusion regarding when you are responsible for sewer line repair. While some may believe that the homeowner is only responsible for repairing the part of the line that’s on their property, this is not the case. Sewer lines consist of multiple sections, the upper lateral, lower lateral and the main line. The city is only responsible for repairing the main sewer line.

If issues with the main sewer line cause damage to your lower lateral, which is most likely where the damage would generally first start – the city would repair this damage when they work on the main sewer line. Unfortunately, if there is backup and flooding on your property from the main sewer line, then the city would not be responsible. It is best to follow up with the city to see if they will repair any damage in these cases.

Unpleasant smells coming from your drains is indicative of sewer line issues and damage. You should always take these types of smells seriously as it could be toxic fumes slowly releasing from the sewer below into your home.

There are a number of ways to clear a slow drain using products found around the home:

Bent Wire – If you do not have a drain snake, you can try using a stiff wire – like one from a clothes hanger, leaving the hook to enter pipes and pull out any clogs. Try to make sure you don’t push debris further into the pipe.

Homemade Flush – Mixing baking soda and vinegar can dissolve any materials that are potentially clogging your drain pipes. This is a good and much safer alternative to store-bought chemical cleaners.

Toilet Plunger – Like plunging a toilet, you can try using this on your drains. Using a plunger on your drains can help get things moving by using suction. This should be enough to fix any mild blockages.

Aged drain pipes are at risk for corrosion which can lead to breaks. Summit Drain has both the technology and expertise to fix this if necessary.

Yes. Drain pipes are durable, but not meant to last forever. If you live in an older home in Ottawa, most likely the pipes are made from copper and can collapse in this day and age.

When it comes to a collapsed drain, call Summit Drain. We use trenchless technology to replace sewer pipes made from original materials without ruining your property.

Rock salt
Rock salt helps by removing moisture from the roots, which in turn kills them. Two lbs should do the trick, pour 1 down the toilet. Flush until gone. And repeat with the next. Then leave for 12 hours and don’t run any water.

Foaming root killers
Another effective way to treat roots in pipes is with foaming root killers. Pour powder into toilet and flush. It will foam upon contact with water. Not only does it help dissolve current roots, but also helps to protect against future ones.

Copper sulfate
Copper sulfate is another good option. Available at most hardware stores, pour roughly half a cup into toilet and flush until gone. Leave the home and take all pets and family members along. This is a toxic substance and banned in some places.

Should I replace old pipes?
There does come a time where it makes sense to replace your pipes. Over time they crack and corrode. It is recommended to begin routine inspections once your home reaches 50 years in age. For plumbing Services in and around the Ottawa area, nobody does it like Summit Drain.

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