In areas prone to flooding or with a high water table, a sump pump is a must to ensure that your basement, crawlspace, or lower level doesn't flood. You must make sure it is working properly, as it can be a disaster if it failss when you need it most. The following will help you avoid some major mistakes.
#1: Skipping regular tests
In many homes the sump pump only runs irregularly, so it could malfunction and you would be none the wiser until your home begins to flood. Instead of waiting for high water to occur, add monthly pump testing into your regular home maintenance schedule. The process is straight forward -- add water to the sump pit until the pump activates. Your pump should have a visible activation sensor on its side, so make sure the water level is above this sensor. If the pump fails to come on or if it doesn't drain the water quickly, you may have an issue that will require a repair or replacement. Doing so now can save your from a flood later.
#2: Using only one power source
Often, the problems that lead to flooding, such as storms, also cause power outages. If your pump depends upon your standard power source to operate, it won't be able to drain the water if the electricity goes out. There are a couple of options to help you overcome this. The most common option is to have a backup generator. You can have a generator that is only for the pump, or you can wire the pump into your whole-house generator. Gas generators are common, or you can have a solar or even wind powered generator. Just make sure it stores some energy in a battery bank, since you may need to operate the pump when there is no sun or wind. The power provided by the backup source must also meet the power requirements of your pump.
#3: Allowing dirt to accumulate
There are two places where debris can cause a sump pump failure -- in the sump pit and at the discharge location. During your monthly pump test you can make sure no dirt or other debris has ended up in the sump pit. As for the outlet pipe, first you must locate it. Depending on its distance from your home, you may want to use a flag to mark it. Then, take time during your monthly pump test to check the pipe outlet to ensure water is draining properly. sometimes dirt, leaves, or other debris gets into the outlet and clogs it, but you can usually remove it easily enough. You may also want to screen the outlet so animals don't climb inside.
For more help, contact a sump pump contractor in your area. For more information, visit a website such as http://www.rite-waywaterproofing.com.