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Why Are Sump Pump Check Valves Important?

Sep 29, 2023

By webfx

If you’ve ever experienced flooding in your basement or crawl space, you know exactly why your home needs a functioning sump pump. Sump pump check valves are vital components in your system — but if you’re a new homeowner, you might be unfamiliar with them.

Let’s go over what sump pump check valves are and why having one in your home is so important.

What Are Sump Pump Check Valves?

See that little device in your sump pump’s discharge pipe? That’s your check valve. It’s a single-direction valve, so it keeps water flowing out of your home. The check valve also helps ensure that your pump shuts off when it’s done.

Think of it this way — your check valve keeps your sump pump “in check.” The valve prevents your sump pump from running too long and protects it from excessive wear.

While there are many different types of check valves to choose from, most fall into one of two categories:

  • Gravity-powered: Gravity causes the water to drain from the pump and closes the flapper, creating a loud noise called a “water hammer.” This valve type also works well with battery-powered backup pumps, making it useful for power outages and other emergencies.
  • Spring-assisted: These “quiet” valves apply less force on the flapper, which eliminates the water hammer noise. Plus, they’re slightly easier to see than gravity-powered valves, making it easier to check whether your installation is working correctly.

Some examples of check valve subtypes include:

  • Ball/swing combination: Ideal for tight spaces, this compact valve type offers an in-line shutoff and backflow prevention.
  • PVC solvent weld swing: This valve type features a compression swing fixed in place with solvent weld ends.
  • Swing: You can usually find these valves with or without unison.

The right valve for your home will depend on several factors, including the valve’s compatibility with your existing pump and your noise tolerance. Talking to an expert can help you decide which product to choose.

What Are the Benefits of a Sump Pump Check Valve?

So, we know what check valves are and what they do, but what’s in it for us? Why do we need one? Here are the two biggest reasons to install a sump pump check valve.

1. Prolongs Pump Life Span

A sump pump check valve helps stop your sump pump from short cycling, which happens when the pump turns on and off too often. Short cycles cause the pump’s temperature to rise, potentially damaging the electronic parts and cutting its life short.

Check valves prevent short cycling by forcing water to continue flowing out of your home, preventing the float switch from activating a new cycle. And the fewer cycles your pump runs, the longer it will last.

2. Increases Pump Efficiency

During a cycle, your sump pump pushes water through the check valve, which keeps it flowing out the discharge pipe. The force of gravity acting on the water assists with draining — but without backflow prevention, the water could return to the sump pit when the pump action stops.

That’s where your sump pump check valve comes in. The valve forces the water to keep moving in one direction, reducing the amount of time it takes for the pump to successfully complete a cycle. The extra drainage efficiency can save you a lot in electricity bills.

How Do You Install a Sump Pump Check Valve?

Just like with any other device, you need to install your sump pump check valve properly for it to work. Homeowners who love DIY projects will be thrilled to know that the process is fast and straightforward.

You’ll want to install your check valve a few inches higher than the pump discharge inside your sump pit. Some pumps may also require you to leave space for weep holes. Even with a check valve, pumps without airlock prevention features can get backed up when the pressure changes; weep holes can help by releasing some of that pressure.

Where Do I Place My Check Valve?

Positioning your check valve too high inside the sump pit can cause the check valve to malfunction, resulting in short cycling as water flows back into the pump. You might also hear loud gurgling noises coming from your basement.

That said, installing it too low will make it difficult to service. You won’t be dealing with the loud water hammer noise, but it will be tougher to examine it by sight alone.

The most solid advice we can give you is to start with the manufacturer’s instructions. They know their product best, so their manual will provide the information you need to get the most out of it.

Sump Pump Check Valve Maintenance Tips

Inspecting your sump pump from time to time is important for making sure everything is working as it should and the same goes for your check valve. Regular preventive maintenance helps prevent minor wear from getting out of hand, saving you money on repairs down the line.

When you go to inspect your check valve, keep your eye out for the following:

  • Leaks or excess moisture on your pump’s seals and connections, or on the valve itself
  • Backflow of water from the sump pit
  • Misalignment of check valve due to instability or seismic activity
  • Debris blocking your pump

If you’re ever uncertain about sump pump or check valve maintenance, it can help to call an expert. A sump pump professional can often find issues that can be missed, which will save you valuable time and energy later on.

Should You Replace Your Check Valve?

Finally, know when it’s time to replace your check valve. A clear sign that your check valve is not working is the presence of water in your sump pit. A failing check valve will allow water to backflow into the sump pit, which can cause flooding. Continuous cycling is another indicator of check valve failure.

Buy Sump Pump Check Valves from Zoeller at Home

We all know having a sump pump is essential for protecting a homeowner’s property and their peace of mind. If you want to be sure your home is safe from water damage, you’ll want to make sure your sump pump check valve works, especially if you live in a flood-prone area.

Need help getting started? Zoeller at Home is here to help. Since 1939, we’ve maintained our position as the United States’ premier sump pump manufacturer. We hold our products to the highest quality standards, so you can rely on us to provide you with the most dependable pump products on the market.

Protect your basement with high-quality sump pumps and accessories from Zoeller at Home. Browse our sump pump check valves on our website, and use our locator tool to find a retailer near you.