What to Do If Your Sump Pump Stops Working

Damaged sump pumpDid someone say something about a sump pump? Generally, this is an out-of-sight, out-of-mind aspect of home ownership. Sump pumps usually do their work without issue for years. Typically if you’re talking about it, you’ve got problems. When problems arise, you can usually detect and repair a sump pump that stops working on your own. We’re here to help.

You know your sump pump is failing to operate properly when water gets where it shouldn’t. Hydrostatic pressure causes water to get pushed under your foundation and into your basement. Sensors connected to an alarm system will help you monitor moisture levels in your home or business. Read on for diagnosing sump pump problems and how to take action if your sump pump has malfunctioned.

Your pump may not be able to do the job on its own. Sometimes just a single pump isn’t enough to handle large amounts of water, especially during periods of heavy rain. Perhaps the pump isn’t powerful enough or an inexpensive piece was installed that just can’t cut it. The best primary sump pumps are high capacity, cast iron models. Installing a battery backup to your system, or even a secondary pump can ensure you have the proper capacity for handling intake of high water volume.

A common issue with sump pumps that fail to operate properly is power outage. Perhaps your system just got unplugged or tripped a circuit breaker. If you’ve lost power due to acts of nature, especially during storms and flooding, the battery operated backup pump will be your saving grace.

Your unit may not have been installed properly. If the pump appears to be working, but there’s no water flowing to the sump pit, make sure you have a drain tile or gravel surround that’s installed along the perimeter of your basement. This drain tile works to collect ground water from around your foundation and funnels it into the sump pump. Older homes may have a French Drain that operates in the same fashion as a drain tile or gravel surround. Not having this channel at all is an obvious issue, but it could also be clogged or sitting at an angle that cannot properly route water where it needs to go.

Check for debris in your pump. If your sump pit doesn’t have a solid lid, it will inevitably fill with debris and dirt, clogging your unit. If your pump or any of its mechanical parts are exposed to substantial debris, your system will fail to run properly or shut down altogether. If switches become jammed due to dirt buildup, they may get stuck in the “on” position regardless of the inner water levels of your pit, which will cause your unit to run nonstop.

Discharge lines that are clogged or frozen will shut down your system as well. If you’re experiencing frozen lines, it’s best to contact a professional for repair and installment of preventative maintenance fluids and guards.

If your system runs continuously or switches “on” more frequently than necessary, this could mean that you have a jammed float switch or that it’s become tangled in the system. Earlier we mentioned that inexpensive pumps can cause problems—one of those being that it will run nonstop in attempt to keep up with the water flow. Your system could be short cycling, which means you likely have a pit that’s too small and fills up with water too quickly. A broken (or nonexistent) check valve will also prevent your unit from cycling the water out of the discharge line.

A licensed plumber can provide a great deal of insight into the choosing a unit that’s right for your home and even consult on repairs that you can safely perform yourself. Ensuring you have the right system that operates properly will keep basement disasters at bay.

Woodard Cleaning & Restoration was founded in 1946, and is located in St. Louis, Missouri. With more than 65 years of experience, Woodard is proud to serve as a preferred provider of water, fire, and smoke restoration services for residential, commercial, and institutional facilities. For more information, visit our contact page, or call 314-227-3938.