Do you have a basement that is prone to flooding? If you do, then you probably already know the importance of a sump pump!

Sump pumps are designed to pump water away from your basement so that your basement remains dry. But what happens when your sump pump doesn’t work the way you intended it to? All of a sudden, you might find yourself with a flooded basement full of soggy carpet and ruined furniture.

Dealing with a sump pump failure is never fun. However, there are many times where sump pump failure could have been prevented if only the homeowner had taken some precautionary measures.

Take these six common sump pump mistakes into consideration. A little bit of foresight now could mean the difference between a dry basement or a wet basement in the future.

Not having back-up power

Perhaps one of the most common mistakes is not having a back-up plan for when the electricity goes out. If a storm with heavy rain comes through and knocks out your power, and your sump pump can’t turn on, all that water goes right into your basement. The simple solution is to keep a backup generator readily available. As soon as the power shuts off, hook your generator up so that your sump pump can function. You’ll also want to keep plenty of fuel on hand for your generator.

Pumping too close to the house

Some people assume that it is okay for their line to drain into a floor drain, but this isn’t true. Floor drains are designed to manage normal wastewater, not the excess water from your sump pump. You’ll also want to make sure that you’re pumping the water far enough away that it isn’t coming right back into your basement. The sump pump discharge line should run at least ten feet away from your house. You’ll also want to make sure the line doesn’t drain directly out into the street or onto your neighbor’s property.

Not using a compatible hose

Sump pumps require a 1, 1-½, or 2-inch discharge hose. Using the wrong size discharge hose will cause your pump to leak or to not drain properly. Many assume that the size of the hose is a personal preference, but this isn’t true. It most cases, a discharge hose will come with the installation kit. This is the right size hose for your system. If you end up needing to replace the hose at some point, you should replace it with a same size hose.

Failing to winterize

Freezing temperatures can damage your sump pump and hoses. While you should never unplug your sump pump, you should remove the discharge hose. When water freezes in the discharge hose, there is a possibility that the hose could crack and become unusable. Whenever temperatures start to get chilly, take the time to remove the hose, drain the water from it, and store it in your garage or basement. While you’re disconnecting the hose, you should also take the time to clear out any debris that may have fallen into your sump pump’s pit. Once the weather starts to warm back up, reattach the house.

Trying to DIY

Many homeowners attempt to install their sump pump to save themselves the cost of professional installation. If you have previous experience installing a sump pump, great! However, if you don’t, please know that several things that could wrong. If the hole for the pump isn’t in the correct location or the sump pump isn’t installed correctly, you risk the chance of a flooded basement. But if you don’t have previous experience or a friend that could help you, opt for a professional installation.

Forgetting to turn it on

Occasionally, you might temporarily unplug your sump pump to use that outlet for another purpose. However, sometimes people forget to plug their sump pump back in, which results in a flooded basement. It is typically recommended that you never unplug your sump pump. This ensures that the sump pump is always on. If you absolutely need to unplug your sump pump, make sure to immediately plug it back in and turn it on after you’re done.

Final thoughts

If you want to keep your basement dry, make sure to take proper care of your sump pump. In addition to keeping all of the above tips in mind, make sure to regularly check to see that it is draining properly. Don’t wait until there is a major storm to realize your sump pump needs help.