The 5 Keys to Effective Maintenance of Drainage & Sewer Pump Systems

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5 Keys to Effective Maintenance of Drainage Pump Systems

With Perimeter Drainage we focus a lot on new installations as well as maintenance on drainage systems. We’re still at it, full time.  Because as much as we’d love for our clients pumps to run perfectly forever, the fact is that extreme weather and harsh conditions make that dream an impossible reality.  Usage, pumping grit and iron oxide, will wear these pumps down.  And there is no indication of when it will happen, thats why there are backup pumps and alarms.

Each Pump Has Its Purpose

Not all pumps are created equally. We talk about it all the time, but in order to keep your system functioning properly, it’s crucial to pay attention to the conditions in which its operating. Some pumps are designed to pump large volumes of water. Others are designed to pump high elevations. There’s a lot of moisture ‘round these parts.  It rains a lot during the year and sudden downpours put the capabilities of every drainage pump system to the test.

So it’s best to be sure your system is running properly.  Here are the keys we follow when conducting maintenance on our systems as well as systems installed in the past by other companies.

1. Timing

We recommend professional maintenance annually. This schedule can change, but we’ve found this is a solid average when you consider run times and cycle times.  The new duplex panels we install track run and cycle times which also helps to dictates what our maintenance schedule should be and when we should be looking at replacing pumps and floats.  

2. Elevation

A residential drainage pump is required in systems where the basement or crawl space was built at an elevation below the district storm sewer. After all, water isn’t going to travel upwards on its own, right? So we need to ensure the size of the pump is still sufficient for pumping the water against gravity.   If you have a high elevation to pump against (the pumps are 30 feet below the storm line), you will need a larger pump and bigger forcemain.  If the pump loses power, then a disaster is right around the corner.

3. Fittings & Discharge

A forced main is a pipe that’s under any sort of pressure, while a discharge pipe is the final forced main that delivers the water away from your home. A forced main that’s crumbling under the pressure of increased water flow is dangerous.  You can have too much velocity in a pipe, that will increase the head pressure on the pumps.  The same goes with fittings – if fittings are installed that change the direction of the water flow, that will also increase the pressure on the pumps.  You do not want 15 fittings with constant changing of direction as this will both decrease your pumps ability to pump and will prematurely wear out the pump. 

4. Volume

An undersized forced main or too many fittings that are fighting to remain intact under the pressure of, say, 100 litres of water per minute, might lead to a struggling pump and over-taxed system. What happens a lot in these instances is old systems were installed before new technology, groundwater modeling and better pump design hit the scene that’s equipped to deal with constantly changing volumes of water entering the system.

5. What’s Your Backup?

Let’s say you have a perfectly functioning pump. Now, let’s say something happens and all of a sudden it isn’t functioning at all. Power outages, broken components, debris in the system – it happens. The only guaranteed protection? A backup pump. I have no idea why a second pump would not be automatic in these systems.  When one pump fails, whats next?  We install duplex panels in two-pump systems so each pump can be triggered alternately. Besides being a back-up, the two-pump system spreads out the wear on each pump.

What Does Maintenance Look Like?

So if those are the maintenance keys, what does our maintenance actually look like?

  • Pumps are pulled and cleaned
  • Debris in the sump is removed
  • Floats are tested
  • Back flow valves are checked
  • Run time and cycle counts are recorded, and in the case of not having this, we do a flow test to make sure the pumps are functioning
  • Add the client to our Maintenance Reminder Email System

All in the name of efficiency.  It’s a simple task at least once each year, but neglecting maintenance on your drainage pump systems is a dangerous game.  Contact us and we can discuss whats best for your system.

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