Your sump pump helps to remove excess water from the base of your home. This helps protect your basement, crawl space, and the foundations of your home from flood damage.
The sump pump check valve is one of the most important parts of the pump system as it only allows water to flow one way and prevents it from being pulled back into your sump pump system by gravity. If your check valve is faulty, then your whole system could become damaged, and it won't be able to work correctly. This can lead to costly repair work if parts of your home are damaged.
In this guide, we'll help explain how and when to replace a sump pump check valve so you can do this yourself when you need to.
When To Replace a Sump Pump Check Valve (Common Signs Of Failure)
It’s not always obvious that your sump pump check valve is failing, and it isn’t always the most accessible component to check. Here are the tell-tale signs to look out for that something is wrong with the valve:
Sump Pump Has Shifted Position
Your sump pump is in a sump basin and needs to remain fairly stable to function properly. However, it can easily become knocked in your basement, and when it shifts position, it can impact the check valve. If the check valve isn't aligned correctly, it can fail. If you know your sump pump has been knocked or has shifted position, then you should check the valve.
Sump Pump Stops Draining
Water collects in your sump pit or sump basin before it gets drawn out by the sump pump. If you notice that the pump isn’t draining properly and the water level isn't going down, you may have an issue with the check valve. A faulty check valve will mean that the water is flowing back down your discharge pipe when the pump switches off, so it won’t drain properly. If you notice this happening, your check valve needs to be inspected.
Debris Blocking Discharge
Dirt and debris will block up your sump pump system and prevent it from draining properly. Your check valve should be able to remove some of the bigger bits of debris and prevent these blockages, so if you notice this issue, you may need to replace your check valve.
Sump Pump Is Short Cycling
If you notice your sump pump is operating in short bursts and then starting up again it means, it's short cycling. This is caused by a faulty check valve because water is flowing straight back into the sump basin as quickly as it's pumped out, triggering the pump to start working again. This short cycling can damage the sump pump, and you should replace the check valve as quickly as possible.
How To Replace Sump Pump Check Valve (Easy DIY Installation Steps)
Before undertaking any DIY work, you need to prepare, or it can become a whole lot harder. Here are the essential tools and pieces required:
Step by Step Guide
Installing a replacement sump pump will take 8-10 hours, but a sump pump check valve is much easier to replace. You should be able to complete this work in 1-2 hours without any professional help. If at any point you’re not sure, then you should consult a professional because it’s worth paying a small consultation fee now to save money in the long run if work needs to be redone.
- 1Turn Off The Power
Start by turning off the sump pump on the system and at the circuit breaker. Many sump pumps have a battery backup which kicks in if the primary power supply is disconnected. Make sure you turn this off or disconnect it completely if you can. It's really important that you disconnect all the power from your pump, or it could cause you injury as you’re working.
- 2Locate The Check Valve
Check valves are connected to your discharge pipe as close to the ground as possible. This helps to stop water from flowing back down your pipe as soon as the pump stops running. Follow up the discharge pipe until you find the check valve. Some check valves are located inside your sump basin just beneath the lid, and you'll need to open it up. Do this by using your plumbers' wrench to loosen the bolts on the top and carefully lift the lid away. Make sure you don’t lose any of the bolts because you’ll need to reattach this later.
- 3Disconnect The Check Valve
Lay down the rags on the floor to catch any excess moisture that might come out of your pipes when you disconnect the check valve. Next, locate the threads or connections at both ends of the check valve and loosen them. You may be able to do this by hand. If not, use your plumbers' wrench. Once loose enough, you should be able to lift the check valve out. If you're replacing it entirely, then you'll need to take the fittings and connections out of the discharge pipes above and below the check valve too.
- 4Install The Connections
Depending on the type of check valve you've chosen, you may have a separate fitting that goes into your discharge pipe before you connect the check valve. Slide these in both ends and place the nuts on the end. Don’t tighten these until your check valve is in place. Make sure these fit securely and tighten up using the wrench or using the tightening attachments.
- 5Install The Check Valve
You should now be able to install your check valve directly into the discharge pipe. This will either twist in, or it will just slide right into the fitting. Tighten the nuts at both ends and make sure it's all completely secure and sealed, or water may leak from the side.
- 6Test The Check Valve
Secure everything in place and tighten the lid of the basin if you need to. Turn the power back on and pour in some water, so the sump pump starts running. Watch the operation and check for any leaks in the discharge pipe or any signs that water is running back into the basin. Hopefully, it's all working correctly, and you can just dispose of the old valve.
Cost To Replace
The check valve itself is normally inexpensive and will cost you $15-$50. Silent running check valves tend to be the most expensive, but you can get cheaper gravity check valves. Some clear plastic check valves are becoming popular because you can check for issues without having to remove them from your plumbing. These will cost more, but you can still buy them for under $50.
The installation costs should be minimal if you’re doing the work yourself. If you do get a professional involved, it will probably cost $100-200, depending on the area and your exact setup.
What Happens If You Don't Replace Sump Pump Check Valve?
Your sump pump will continue to run without a functional check valve, but it won't be able to fulfill its purpose. The water won't be able to run through your discharge pipe into your drains, and it can lead to water pooling around your basin. Eventually, this will lead to flooding and water damage in your home.
A faulty check valve will also damage your sump pump. Water won't drain properly, which will cause the pump to work harder without actually achieving anything. This can cause your motor to overheat, and it will eventually burn your sump pump out. If you don’t replace your check valve, you’ll end up needing to replace your whole sump pump system.
How To Choose The Right Check Valve Replacement
Choosing the right check valve is important. If you install the wrong type, it will stop your sump pump system from running correctly, and there are a few key things you need to consider when selecting your replacement:
Type Of Check Valve
There are two main types of check valves: gravity valves or spring-loaded valves. Each of these works in a similar way, but gravity valves operate to allow water through and then use the force of gravity to close the valve. These are simple and cheap, but the check valves can make a lot of noise.
Spring loaded check valves use a spring mechanism to close the valve and prevent water from flowing back down. They close more quickly and are better suited for high volumes of water, plus they run silently. They are more expensive, but it's often worth the extra cost.
There are 5 main connection types for check valves: threaded, insert, slip/spigot, flexible couple, and compression. Each of these goes into your discharge pipes slightly differently, and it's vital that the type of connection you choose works with the pipes you have. Threaded connections tend to be the most common, but for a corrugated drain hose, you need to use an insert. Make sure it's connected securely, or the water can end up leaking out.
You can usually choose between plastic or metal check valves. Plastic has the bonus of being corrosion resistant and are often cheaper. Metal check valves are more durable and will last longer. If your sump pump will see a lot of use, it's worthwhile investing in a metal valve.
Not every check valve is made to deal with the same amount of water. The check valve you choose should match your pump and your pipes so that it fits securely and can handle the water pressure. Many sump pumps will come with specific guidance on the type of sump pump, but if you're unsure, you can ask a professional.
People Also ask (FAQs)
Where should a sump pump check valve be installed?
The best place for your check valve is as near to the floor as possible outside of the sump basin. This helps limit the amount of water that will flow back into the basin when the pump shuts off and make it easier to maintain or remove if needed.
How long do check valves last on a sump pump?
Your check valve will usually last around 5 years. You should replace your check valve whenever you replace your sump pump, though.
How often should a check valve be replaced?
Your check valve should usually be replaced every 5-7 years, but if you notice an issue before then, you should take action to replace it sooner.
How long does the replacement of a check valve take?
Replacing a check valve is usually straightforward and shouldn’t take more than a few hours.
Your check valve is one of the most important components in your sump pump system, and without it, you'll struggle to get water out of your home. They're reasonably cheap and quite easy to install, so if you need to replace the valve, you can do it yourself without paying for a professional. Hopefully, this guide has helped explain how to go about it, and you now feel more comfortable taking on this DIY work yourself.
Ian Haynes is an expert writer who has successfully deployed over 500 plumbing pages and other related content. He has an excellent understanding of home plumbing issues and translates his experiences via Plumbing Lab so readers can have a better understanding of common household problems. Outside of his work, Ian likes exploring Brooklyn with his Labrador.