6 Common Sump Pump Problems (and How to Troubleshoot Them)

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Sump pumps are like fire extinguishers or first aid kits. You may not need them on a regular basis, but they are of extreme importance during basement flooding emergencies. According to research, about 98% of US basements suffer some type of water damage, which means having a sump pump is essential in escaping sump pump problems.

Having a sump pump means you have the first line of defense against basement flooding, regardless of whether it was caused by a leak of floodwater. However, what happens when your sump pump isn’t working, and you have no idea what the problem is?

Well, in this post, we’ll guide you through the most common sump pump problems and how to troubleshoot them.

1. Safety Precaution

Now, before we get into it, the most crucial thing you have to worry about is your safety. If your sump pump does have a problem that you can address, it’s imperative that you shut off the power. Also, read the manufacturer’s safety instructions before you get to work and ensure you call in a professional who knows how to fix a sump pump.

2. A Switch Problem

One of the most common sump pump problems a lot of homeowners experience is a switch problem. A majority of sump pumps turn on through a float activator or a pressure sensor, and the switch could be faulty or stuck.

If you’re dealing with a float, it may get stuck at one point and refuse to change position, even when the water level rises, meaning the pump will stay off.

One of the major reasons for this problem is a lack of maintenance that leads to an accumulation of debris in the basin. The debris can prevent a smooth operation of the switch and the free movement of your float activator. The solution is very easy and purely mechanical, so what you have to do is clean the basin and reposition the sump pump, so your float moves freely.

3. An Overwhelmed Sump Pump

Overwhelming or overworking is one of the common reasons for broken or faulty sump pumps. Depending on the type of sump pump you have, it’s very easy to overwork it depending on your flooding situation. Some models, especially the cheap plastic ones, are not powerful enough and may not be reliable, but you’re handling a significant volume of water caused by heavy rain.

An excessive influx of water is the most common reason for overwhelming a sump pump. There’s a very high chance that the sump pump will burn out and fail you when you need it the most. Another reason for an overwhelmed sump pump is a small sump pit that fills up too fast.

This means the sump pump turns on and off repeatedly within a short time, wearing out the motor too fast. You may also be dealing with a stuck switch due to debris accumulation or a broken check valve that prevents the water from flowing back into the pit.

The best possible solution to this problem is upgrading your sump pump or using several sump pumps during such a situation.

Sump pump powers are measured in horsepower, so you have to determine how much you need depending on several factors. Some of the most important factors are the depth of your basement, the climate of the area you live in and the likelihood of floods, as well as the size of the sump pit.

If you have no idea what you need, it’s vital for you to consult an expert who will help you purchase the best sump pump for your home.

4. No Water in the Sump Pit

Sometimes a sump pump seems to be working, but no water gets into the sump pit. Usually, this is a sign of an improperly installed pump or one that’s not linked to a drainage system. The drainage system it’s supposed to collect water and channel it into the sump pump pit.

If the drain tile happens to be clogged or collapsed, it’ll fail to divert the water correctly. The same problem will arise if the drain tile is installed incorrectly, which means it won’t divert water into the sump pit.

In such a situation, even with the best sump pump, keeping your basement dry will be a huge problem.

To solve this problem, what you need to do is inspect your drainage system and ensure that it’s installed correctly. If you can’t find the problem, you can hire a professional expert to come and check it for you and install it properly. If you don’t have a drainage system, then this is the best time to have it installed.

5. A Clogged or Frozen Discharge Pipe

One of the major reasons for sump pump problems is a frozen or clogged discharge pipe. The discharge pipe goes from the sump pit to the exterior space, and if clogged, the entire system will stop working, and water will accumulate in your basement.

Discharge pipes can be clogged by various things, including dirt, debris, rocks, rodents, etc.

The best thing you can do is clean your discharge pipe then protect its opening with a screened vent cap or a grate. If by any chance, the discharge pipe is frozen, which usually happens through the wall, you can add insulation or heat tape. If your discharge pipe runs underground, it should go below the frost line to prevent freezing.

6. Failing Due to Old Age

If your sump pump is old, then chances are you can expect failure if it’s already worn out. Most sump pumps can last as long as ten years, but if yours is older than that, then the best thing you can do is replace it. Consult with a professional about the best device depending on the frequency of use and amount of water expected.

Sump Pump Problems: The Most Common Sump Pump Issues and How to Resolve Them

These are the most common sump pump problems and how you can troubleshoot them. Most of them are simple DIY issues that you can fix, but you should call in the professionals, but you have a problem that’s hard to tackle.

If you realize you have such a problem, please give our experts a call, and we’ll be more than glad to come to your rescue.