Check valves are an indispensable component of any sump pump system. A sump pump check valve works by letting water flow through it to the discharge line and blocking it from re-entering the sump pit once the pump stops working.
Let us say your sump pump system is fitted with pipes 1.5 inches in diameter and stretching to ten feet from the sump pit out to where the water is safe to be discharged. Before it reaches its end point, the pipe system has to climb straight up from the pit and bend at a right angle, parallel to the ground for discharging. If your sump pump system does not have a check valve somewhere in the pipeline, the water that’s been pumped out by the motor from the sump pit will flow right back in when the motor shuts off. The result? Your sump pit will get filled again with 10 feet worth of sump. Aside from the inefficiency this will cause, it will also hasten the deterioration of your sump pump, because it will have to work twice as much for every discharge cycle.
This is why it is important to make sure you get the right type of sump pump check valve when you initially have your sump pump system installed. More importantly, when it’s up and working, it’s best to check the condition of your check valve regularly. This will ensure that you’ll be able to address every minor repair or replacement requirement.
The best time to test if your check valve is in working condition is when the sump pump is not running. Pour just enough water into the sump pit to trigger the pump motor. If it takes twice as much time as it used to pump the water out, then chances are, your check needs to be replaced.
Here are some check valve tips that you might want to check out. To do any of these, you will need a pipe cutter or hacksaw, check valves, couplings or adapters, utility knife or a metal file, wrench, flathead screwdriver.
- When installing a check valve to a sump pump system that’s originally not fitted with one, you will need a check valve with the same diameter of your drain pipe, plus the couplings or adapters that come with it. With your hacksaw or pipe cutter, cut out a portion of the pipe that’s big enough for you to squeeze the check valve and couplings in. Use your metal file or utility knife to deburr the pipes’ cut edges. Find the pipe that’s fitted to the sump pump and slide a flexible coupling over it. Then find the pipe that’s fitted to the drain and slide another coupling over it. Check the arrow on the valve that indicated the direction of flow, and fit in the valve accordingly, with the arrow facing the opposite the pump.
- Sometimes, when the check valve doesn’t seem to work, you need only to reverse the direction of the flow. After you do this, you can slide back the coupling, adjust and tighten up the grip over the pipe and see if it works this time.
- To remove a check valve from a flexible coupling, you can easily twist it off by loosening the steel strap using a screwdriver. But if it’s been soldered, glued or welded onto the coupling, you will have no choice but to cut with a hacksaw.
Got enough to work on? Good luck with solving your sump pump check valve problem!