Sump pumps are a type of basement water pump that channels basement water off your house. While sump pumps offer great protection to your basement against flood or any sort of plumbing leak, sump pump failure is very common in the USA and there isn’t one single reason for your sump pump not working.
When your sump pump stops working, it can even cause flooding on top of making things worse for the basement. The entire flooring of your basement and the furniture on it can get completely ruined. If you are unable to find any reason behind your sump pump not working, we’re here to discuss sump pump problems and sump pump troubleshooting in detail.
Why Do Sump Pumps Stop Working?
Since sump pumps are mechanical devices, there are bound to be some malfunctions or errors. If you know the basic working principle of sump pumps, you can identify the problems by yourself. After several steps of sump pump problems diagnosing, we’ve found out the main reasons why sump pumps may stop working:
- Power source failure
- Poor design and cheap build
- Improper installation
But there are many other reasons for sump pump not working. We’ll elaborate on those and how to get rid of them in the next section.
1. Not a Strong Sump Pump
The internet is flooded with the “sump pump not working basement flooded” queries. The simple reason behind this might just be that your sump pump lacks in strength. If it does, it can’t handle any heavy water flow on your basement. You’ll get into trouble, especially during the rainy season since the pump will be too overwhelmed to handle the pourings of water. If you own a cheap sump pump made out of plastic, it is more likely to fail in maintaining water flow.
To make sure that you have a functional sump pump all year round, upgrade your pump machine. You can also install multiple sump pumps in your basement for optimum security.
2. No Water in Your Sump Pump
If your sump pit doesn’t contain water, it’s because the pump isn’t correctly installed or isn’t connected to a proper drainage system. Make sure the water pressure sump pump is accurate. A sump pump will work best when you install a drain tile either internally or externally. Make sure the drainage system collects the standing water so it channels water towards the pump. Then the pump will release it to the pit.
When your drainage system isn’t properly installed, is clogged or has collapsed, water wouldn’t get toward the pump properly. You wouldn’t get any benefit out of your sump pump in this scenario. So, check your drainage system regularly and get it fixed when needed. If you don’t have any drainage system installed in your basement, install it right away.
3. Sump Pump Got Clogged
Sump pumps without lids can get clogged pretty easily, and its severe than your typical dishwasher drainage clog. Because, if you don’t inspect your pump regularly; by the time you find out the clog, will be too late. You can easily identify this by measuring the amount of dirt on the pump. It will slow down the performance of the sump pump and then eventually stop the entire machine.
There are several ways of sump pump clogging:
- The sump pit gets clogged with debris
- If too much silt accumulates on the sump pit
- The clogging or jamming of the “float switch” will result in the sump pump not turning on
- The switches get jammed in the cheaper sump pumps. In this case, the pump will stop working or the switch will be on the “on” mode
Get a sump pump with an airtight lid. This will prevent the debris from accumulating and the water from evaporating inside the basement. Some sump pumps contain pedestals that keep the sumps separated from the containers’ bottoms.
4. Clog in the Release Line
Sump pumps use release lines to expel the collected water. The lines may sometimes become clogged and the whole system fails eventually. To avoid this, check for any clog in the release lines. Make sure they’re clear and have their lid on. If you can maintain your release line in this way, you can prevent water from getting into your foundation even in winter.
5. Power Loss of the Sump Pump
The power lines of your sump pump can get knocked down. If your sump pump gets accidentally unplugged, it’s of no use. To avoid this, you can go for a battery powered sump pump. There are great sump pumps with high capacity battery backup on the market. You can also opt for a water backup sump pump that doesn’t require any power source or battery replacement.
6. Non-stop Run
Sump pump continuously running is not a good thing for the health of the machine. If it’s overworked for too long, it’ll eventually fail to work. The common reasons for the overworking of sump pump are:
- Clogging or tangling of the float switch
- The sump pump or the sump pit is not big enough
- The check valve is broken or there’s no check valve
- Water continuously flows into the pump. In this case, you have to either upgrade the pump system or install an additional sump pump
Get Your Sump Pump Working Again!
Before we get to this point, we all must focus on the problem before it even happens. Most of the problem and issues can be avoided if the sump pump is installed properly on the first place. Is your sump pump not pumping anymore? Luckily, you can both fix and prevent this.
1. Check for Power Outages
- Check the connection between the cord and the outlet
- Check the fuses
- If you have a battery backup and yet the pump has stopped working, check the water level of the backup system
- Pour distilled water into the battery. If it’s still not working, replace the backup
- If you don’t have a sump pump backup, it’s better you get one
2. Check if There’s Any Leak in the Release Pipe
You can easily identify this by looking at any sign of water around the pipe’s location. If your pipe has leaks, you won’t get anything out of your pump. Then you’ll have to replace the pipe entirely.
3. Check if the Float is Malfunctioning
If your float is malfunctioning or has worn out, your sump pump won’t start. To check this, pour water into the sump pit until it’s filled. If the pump hasn’t started yet, you need to immediately change the float.
4. Does Your Pump Have a Weep Hole?
Some sump pumps come with weep holes. Check for yours and see if it’s clogged. The weep hole is located between the pump and the check valve. To clear out the hole, use a thin toothpick and make sure it doesn’t break off inside the hole while you’re cleaning.
5. Check for the Alarm System
Sump pump alarm going off is another common problem which results in basement water damage. There are usually two alarms in sump pumps. The high-water alarm works as a prior warning. But if your alarm goes off, you won’t be updated on the water condition in the basement. Here’s how to troubleshoot the problem:
- Check if the alarm is correctly powered
- Check for the water level on the basin and the sensors
- Check if the pump is overworked
6. Check for Clogged Impeller
The impeller is a small filter in the sump pump. If it gets clogged, your sump pump will stop functioning. Your pump will apparently run but it won’t release any water if the impeller and the pump shaft are disconnected. Clean the impeller regularly or replace it if it’s beyond repair.
How to Avoid any Sump Pump Malfunction?
Firstly, an electronic device is bound to get worn out over time and might even fail to work eventually. But you can make your sump pump sustain for quite some time if you know how a sump pump works. With regular sump pump maintenance, you can easily make sure your pump is operating fully.
- Check the backup pump (if there’s any). Turn the main pump off and run the backup pump singly to check if it functions properly
- Go outside and check if the pump is releasing water properly. Installing the discharge line properly will save you from any future hassle.
- See if the check valve is installed correctly. If it’s installed backward, your pump will turn on but you wouldn’t get any result out of it
- Clean the release line’s air hole regularly
- Look out for any noise in the motor
- The backup battery needs to be replaced after 2-3 years
- For quarterly maintenance, run a vinegar solution through the pump and clean it
Is your sump pump not working? Get it ready before the rainy season finally takes over. We’ve discussed the common problems of sump pump and their solutions in this blog. But if you’re still not able to figure out the issue yourself, contact your sump pump manufacturer or a professional technician to check the issue out. You don’t want the rainy season get all over your basement.