When your neighborhood gets hit by a rainstorm or blizzard, your sump pump comes to your aid which protects your basement and foundation from flooding. This device is usually located in the lowest level of your house, like a basement or crawl space, and removes water from the area surrounding your foundation. There are certain things you should know in terms of maintenance and care to keep your sump running reliably.

Since going into business eighteen years ago, the plumbing team at Southport Home Services has provided sump pump service for countless homeowners. We’re specialists when it comes to sump pump repair and replacement. We also understand better than most how to properly care for a sump pump during storms and severe weather conditions. Here are some tips to help your sump pump get through inclement weather.

1. Clean Your Sump Pump Every Year

As your sump pump deals with rainwater and snowmelt throughout the year, it can accumulate natural debris like twigs, dead leaves, and grass clippings. Unfortunately, this debris can create blockages in the system, which then prevent water from draining. Once a year, remove the pump’s cover and look inside the basin. If you see any debris inside, simply clear it out and replace the cover. However, it may be time to call a plumber if you don’t know how long it’s been since your sump pump was last cleaned and it’s showing signs of clogging.

2. Test the Pump Annually

We recommend testing your sump pump once a year to make sure it’s functioning properly. The best time of year is just before the rainy season begins – if you do notice a problem, you’ll be able to have it repaired before the seasonal storms roll in. To test the pump, simply pour a bucket of water into the basin. If the pump is in good working condition, it should kick on immediately. You’ll notice the water level steadily dropping while the float rises to the surface.

However, if the water doesn’t drain or drains very slowly, there could be an issue. Be sure to also listen for unusual sounds during operation, as these can indicate parts are wearing out. In either case, we recommend scheduling a pump inspection right away. A plumber will inspect the system for issues like clogs, dead batteries, and worn-out parts. Southport Home Services is a trusted plumber providing sump pump service in Wausau, Madison, and Caledonia.

3. Make Sure to Connect the Drain Hose

The drain hose is a tube connecting your sump pump to the outdoors. When the pump kicks on, it moves water from the pit, into the hose, and into your home’s drainage system. In some cases, the drain hose may come loose if it wasn’t properly installed in the first place. This can seriously inhibit the pump’s ability to remove water from your home, so you should double-check that the drain hose is tightly connected.

While you’re checking the drain hose, it’s also convenient to examine the check valve. The valve is a feature that prevents water from flowing back into the pump pit. You can do a quick visual inspection of the valve for built-up debris or blockages. Finally, you should also check the valve and hose during winter to make sure they haven’t frozen over. Not only can frozen valves block the system from draining properly, but they can also become damaged by expanding ice. If ice damages the valve over winter, it’s best to have it replaced before the spring rainy season begins.

4. Position the Discharge Pipe Strategically

Water leaving your pump pit reaches its destination via the discharge pipe. This is typically a long, flexible hose that connects to a white PVC pipe. Sometimes, well-intentioned homeowners accidentally leave the discharge pipe too close to the home’s foundation. Unfortunately, this reintroduces any water drained from the sump pump directly back into your home. In other words, your sump pump will be running non-stop and cycling the same water repeatedly. Not only is this inefficient, but it can also lead to your sump pump burning out prematurely. Double-check that your discharge pipe leads several feet out into your yard. If your landscaping cooperates, try to place the pipe near a downward incline so gravity can assist with water removal.

5. Check the Electric Source

Many sump pumps in Southeast Wisconsin are powered by electricity. Since water and electricity don’t mix, your pump needs a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. This type of circuit will turn off immediately if it’s exposed to water. If moisture triggers the GFCI switch, you’ll have to toggle it to restore power to the sump pump.

6. Consider Adding a Backup Power Source

If you have an electrically powered sump pump, a heavy storm that causes power outages is a nightmare situation. With the pump unable to operate, your basement can rapidly fill with water. For this reason, many homeowners opt to install a backup power source. Battery backups are popular because they’re relatively affordable and easy to install. If you decide to go down this route, keep in mind that you need to replace the batter every three or four years. The peace of mind and additional expenses are worth it in the long run.

7. (Optional) Turn Off the Sump Pump After the Rain Stops

Some homeowners like to turn off the sump pump after it has stopped draining water. Giving the pump a period of rest can prevent it from overworking and breaking down. Keep in mind that your pump may continue running a few days after a major storm. Give your pump a chance to catch up with the rainfall before you give it a rest. A note of caution: your sump pump won’t kick on the next time it rains if it’s shut off. That’s why it’s essential to be proactive and in tune with the weather if you decide to give your pump a rest.

Your Sump Pump Experts in Southeast Wisconsin

Is your sump old or in disrepair? Is it struggling to keep your basement dry? Look no further than Southport Home Services. Since we opened in 2005, we’ve been the go-to source for sump pump repair and replacement in Southeast Wisconsin. Our trained plumbers can handle repairs ranging from simple to complex. We even offer 24/7 emergency repairs, so you can count on us to be there when you need us most. If water is seeping into your basement or your sump pump is making some strange sounds during operation, just give us a call and we’ll send out one of our 80 fully stocked trucks to make on-the-spot repairs. In addition to sump pump service, we also provide a wide range of plumbing and HVAC services for both residential and commercial clients.

Sump pump acting up? Contact Southport Home Services today to schedule best-in-class sump pump service in Wausau, Madison, and Caledonia.

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Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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