Hi, I’m Eddie from Heil Plumbing DMV, and today, we’re going to learn how to replace a sump pump. Before proceeding, you’ll want to determine if you even really need to replace the pump by making sure your sump pump isn’t working. Once you are pretty sure that you need to replace the sump pump, click on the video below or continue reading on to learn more.
Sump Pump FAQs
What Is a Sump Pump?
Sump pumps protect homes (and other buildings) from water damage by collecting water that makes its way through the foundation. The water is often diverted by special piping, called drain tile, and is collected into a pit (basin) that contains a sump pump, which then pumps the water up, out, and away from the home.
How Does a Sump Pump Work?
A sump pump sits inside a small pit about two feet deep. Most sump pump pits contain a small amount of standing water. However, as a home’s basement, cellar, or crawl space takes on water, the water level rises in the pit, causing the “float” (attached to the sump pump) to rise. When the “float” hits its peak, the sump pump is activated, and the water is pumped up from the pit, out, and away from the home. A sump pump will typically continue to run until the “float” falls back to its starting position.
Who Needs a Sump Pump?
If a part of your home (office, etc…) sits underground (think basement, cellar, crawl space, etc…), you may need a sump pump.
Where Is My Sump Pump Located?
If you have a sump pump, it is usually located in a pit (basin) underground, right beneath the concrete floor of your basement (or cellar or crawl space). Do note that the pit very well may be covered by a lid.
How Long Do Sump Pumps Last?
Sump pumps should be replaced about every 10 years; unless your sump pump often works overtime, in which case, it is better to replace the sump pump about every 5 years.
What Is a Sump Pump Check Valve and Should I Replace It Also?
If you are going to replace your sump pump, you really ought to go ahead and replace your sump pump check valve (aka back-flow prevention valve) while you are at it. (Do not fear – we include this also in the step-by-step guide below on how to replace a sump pump.)
So what is a sump pump check valve? Your sump pump check valve is a specialty plumbing connection that joins the piping coming up from the sump pump to the remaining run of discharge pipe leading up, out, and away from the home.
The sump pump check valve contains a small interior “door” on a hinge that only opens upwards. This “door” allows water to be pumped up from the pit when the pump turns on. However, when the pump turns off, the sump pump check valve closes under the weight of any remaining water in the pipe. In other words, the sump pump check valve keeps any water left over in the discharge pipe when the sump pump turns off from falling back down into the pit (which would trigger the sump pump to turn back on when it does not necessarily need to run).
How To Replace a Sump Pump
OK, now for the fun part! I’m going to show you step by step how to replace a sump pump and a sump pump check valve!
What You Will Need To Replace a Sump Pump
- New sump pump
- PVC pipe (diameter to match the sump pump discharge fitting)
- New sump pump check valve
- PVC shear tool or hacksaw
- Clear PVC primer
- Heavy-duty PVC clear cement (glue)
Steps to Replace a Sump Pump
1. Unplug your old sump pump
2. Access your sump pump
- Unscrew the lid: If you have a lid covering your sump pump pit (basin), you will need to remove the lid. (A drill may be required to remove bolts.)
- Remove the bottom fastener from the check valve: Disconnect the bottom pipe from the check valve first. IMPORTANT – if you ignore this step and remove the top fastener first, you will probably end up with water all over the floor.
- Separate the bottom pipe from the check valve: Grasp the bottom pipe and twist slightly while pulling up on the valve (still connected to the upper pipe). This should separate the bottom part of the pipe from the check valve.
- Remove the lid and access your sump pump: Slide the lid out between the disconnected pipe to expose the sump pump pit.
3. Remove the sump pump check valve
- Drain the water from the check valve: Stick a screwdriver up into the valve and push open the “door” to drain any remaining drain water in the upper discharge pipe into the open sump pump pit.
- Remove the top fastener from the check valve: Disconnect the top pipe from the check valve by twisting slightly and pulling the old check valve down off the pipe.
4. Cut off 4-6″ of the upper pipe: Use a hacksaw or a PVC shear tool in order to have a clean surface to work with when attaching the new sump pump check valve. (Note that trying to glue over old, dried glue residue from the previous connection can compromise the new seal.)
5. Remove the old sump pump: Pull the bottom pipe, connected to the old sump pump, up and out of the pit. Set the old sump pump out of the way.
6. Preparing the new PVC pipe for the new sump pump: Don’t forget a weep hole!
- Prepare the pipe: Glue a male adapter onto one end of PVC pipe.
- Create a weep hole:
- What is a weep hole and why do I need one? A weep hole is necessary if you plan to use a check valve. Why? Because without a weep hole, air locked between the check valve and the sump pump can actually keep the sump pump system from discharging water to altogether. (This issue is aptly named “air-lock”.) If the discharge system stops functioning, the pit could continue to fill with water until it overflows and you end up with water damage. Put simply: manufacturers recommend adding a weep hole when you are utilizing a check valve to your sump pump discharge line.
- Drill a weep hole: Drill a 1/4″ hole right above the male adapter. Start the hole straight on, then tilt the drill and continue to drill the hole at a 45-degree angle. (By tilting the drill and drilling up, away from the male adapter, your hole will end up pointed down, towards the adapter. This will spit any spurts of excess water towards the sump pump and not up out of the pit onto your floor.)
7. Connect the new PVC pipe to the sump pump: Insert the male end into the sump pump base and twist to tighten. Pick up the new sump pump and lower it into the center of the pit. (Make sure any debris is removed from the pit. Also, make sure that there is space between the sides of the pit and the sump pump so that nothing will interfere with any part of the pump.)
8. Reinstall the sump pump lid: Fish wires from the new sump pump through the lid and set the lid over the sump pump pit. Press the PVC pipe down to ensure that the sump pump is not wobbling in the pit. Press down the lid. (Wait to the end to bolt it back down.)
9. Examine the new check valve: Important notes
- Examine the check valve to verify which side is the top. There is only one right way to mount the sump pump check valve. You will want to mount the valve so that the inner valve “door” opens up.
- Be very careful not to glue the valve “door” shut, as that door is what allows the pump to get water out of the pit.
10. Get your primer and glue ready: You will be applying primer first to soften the PVC and then the glue.
11. Apply primer to the inside of the check valve joints: See the pictures below.
12. Prep the PVC pipe and affix the check valve:
- Apply primer and glue to the outside of the upper pipe.
- Important: Again, examine the check valve to verify which side is the top. See above notes.
- Affix the check valve to the PVC pipe, right-side up. Affix the check valve by pushing up and turning slightly to make sure it is snug.
13. Mark and cut off extra PVC sump pump pipe:
- Align the new bottom sump pump pipe (coming up from the pit) with the bottom part of the socket fitting of the check valve.
- Mark the sump pump pipe using the bottom of the socket fitting to set your mark.
- Cut the new sump pump PVC pipe down on your marked line.
14. Prepare to connect the sump pump PVC pipe to the check valve
15. Apply primer and glue to the inside of the check valve joint and to the outside of the sump pump PVC pipe (coming up from the pit).
16. Affix the socket fitting over the sump pump pipe: Push down and turn slightly to make sure it is snug. (As you affix the socket, the “union nut” will probably fall off and land down around the base of the PVC sump pump pipe. That is OK for now. We will need that “nut” in the next step.)
17. Connect the pipes: Align the pipes (they should match up almost evenly if you made the cut correctly in Step 13) and pull up the “union nut”, connecting the two pipes by screwing the “union nut” on.
18. Finish the job: Test the sump pump by plugging it in. If everything is in working order, bolt the sump pump pit lid back down again. Congratulations! You’re done – you know how to replace a sump pump!
Heil Plumbing is a family-run company owned by a third-generation master plumber. We can help you with a full range of plumbing services, including toilet installation and repair, leak detection and pipe repair, water heater repair and installation, faucet repair and installation, drain cleaning, water treatment services, and more.
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