April is right around the corner and you know what they say—"April showers bring May flowers." After spending the winter hiding from the cold weather, it's time to be proactive and make sure your home is prepared for the change in seasons. You need to make sure your sump pump is running properly so your basement or crawl space doesn't become flooded. That's not something you want to deal with in the middle of a downpour. Here is how to check your sump pump and troubleshoot any problems.

Make sure your pump turns on

Obviously, the most important thing you need to do is make sure your sump pump will turn on when it's supposed to. You can check your pump simply by unplugging it and plugging it back in. It should turn on as you plug it in whether there is water to pump or not. If it doesn't turn on, push up on the float if you have a submersible pump. Most sump pumps have a float below the water level that looks like a large rubber ball. When the water rises, it causes the float to rise, and it turns on the sump pump exactly when needed. If it turns on when you push up on the ball, you are good to go. If not, there is an issue with it somewhere.

If you don't have a submersible pump, your pump will have settings on it to turn on when the water gets to a certain level. Set the settings to the lowest possible. Take a five gallon bucket, and dump the water under your house in the best place to trigger your pump to turn on. If it doesn't, try it a couple more times, then call a plumber to fix or replace your sump pump.

Check the discharge pipe

Your sump pump is attached to a pipe that drains the water. It will run from your pump and away from your house. Get a flashlight and look into the pipe to make sure that it isn't clogged with any dirt, rocks, or other debris. Check the end that's outside to make sure that the opening isn't buried with the rest of the pipe. The water doesn't always run quickly, and you don't want it backing up under your home.

If your pump isn't working...

If your pump isn't working, there are a few things you can try before calling in the big guns.

Check your circuit breaker

Sometimes the issue with your sump pump is as simple as your circuit breaker. It may have tripped during a particularly bad storm. If your power went out during a winter storm, it may have caused one or more of your circuits to trip. Check to make sure none of them are in the off position.

Replace your outlet

Another common problem that can happen from time to time is an outlet going bad. Your pump may simply not be receiving any power. First, plug another household item into the outlet that your sump pump is plugged into. If it doesn't receive any power, replace the outlet to see if that remedies the problem. All you have to do is unscrew it from the wall, and screw a new one back into place.

If you can't seem to find the problem with your sump pump, call a plumber to come look at it. It may be something simple that you missed and end up being an inexpensive fix. If your sump pump is close or more than a decade old, chances are that it's time to replace it. Make sure you test your pump, try these simple fixes first, and look at this web-site for more information.