It's probably among the most neglected items in your home. C'mon. Who maintains their sump pump? Our handyman, John Bender, the Manager of Gil-Roy's in Frankenmuth says pour a can of Coke (Pepsi will work, too) into your sump crock every year to prolong it's life.
The sump pump is one of those "insurance policy" appliances. It sits there in the basement, helping to drain the soil around your home. The sump pump also helps remove excess water from a basement. Sump pumps come in submersible and pedestal styles. Bender says you also need a "back-up" pump in case the power goes out. Although the battery operated ones are popular, Bender likes the back up pumps that attach to a water source, like a hose.
Bender says they used to last more than 10 years. But in recent years that can go bad in just a few years. At my house, the pump was about 10 years old, so I just had a new one put in. I didn't want to take any chances. Pay attention to your pump, because if it fails for any reason, you could have water in your basement. Knock on wood that's never happened to me. But if you've ever dealt with a flooded basement, you know what a hassle it can be. Most hardware stores and home centers sell a variety of sump pumps and back up systems.
Yeah, it's down the basement, where it's dark and musty. There may be a spider or 2 down there as well. But don't neglect it, unless you like mopping up water.
For more on sump pumps: http://homerepair.about.com/od/plumbingrepair/ss/sump_pump_maint_tips.htm