Sump Pump Not Working? Problems, Failure Issues & Troubleshooting

Sump pump broke? Relax. It may be a result of one of these common issues that made it stop running.

In this guide, I’ll be discussing sump pump failure, problems, and troubleshooting.

You will also get tips on how to know if a sump pump is working.

Sump Pump Not Working In Basement Flooded

Sump pumps are very useful when it comes to getting rid of standing water in a basement.

The best part is, you don’t even have to be there for it to do its job, as it has a sensor and floater that turns on the pump when water reaches a certain level in the sump pit.

  • Sump Pump Problem Diagnosing

But what if it begins malfunctioning and you don’t have a clue what to do?

Stay with me!

What To Do When Sump Pump Fails

Here are some of the major reasons why your sump pump fails, and what you can do to solve the problem.

  1. You may be using a wrong-sized pump

One of the most common mistakes homeowners make when waterproofing their basements is buying and installing the wrong-sized sump pump.

You may think size doesn’t matter, after all, a pump is a pump, but that is far from the truth. A wrong-sized sump pump will be unable to function properly and will fail along the line.

How? Let me explain.

If the sump pump you have fitted is too large for your basement, its capacity will be too much for the space, and will be forced to work too hard all the same.

On the flip side, the sump pump you have installed may be too small for your basement space, and it won’t be able to pump out the volumes of water that can contain that area.

Hence, malfunctioning in the process.

A sump pump that is too large or small for a particular area will be overworked and will burn out eventually. This is why you should consult with professionals before you buy and install your sump pump.

They will recommend the right-sized pump that’s perfect for your basement space and the expected flooding levels.

  1. Sump Pump Not Draining? Check For Pump motor burnouts

If your sump pump is being put under too much pressure by excessive volumes of water, it won’t be able to pump out the standing water fast enough. The motor will also burn out in no time and the machine will shut down.

This is a spill-over from the above-mentioned cause of sump pump failure (installing a wrong-sized sump pump).

In the case of a motor burn-out, your only choice would be to call a repair service to see how they can fix the motor. This would require replacing the burnt-out motor with a new one.

The repair service will also advise you on the motor capacity to buy that’s suitable for the estimated maximum flooding levels in your basement.

  1. Sump Pump Stopped Running? Check Installation

Similar to any other device that you want to work correctly, you also have to install a sump pump the right way. If not, it will malfunction more times than you would like.

You can hire a professional to handle the installation, as they have more experience than you (they’ve probably installed a thousand sump pumps in the past).

You can do the installation yourself, but be sure to read the instruction manual carefully and install accordingly.

Most manufacturers will include the following in their instruction manual.

  • Make sure that the check valve is installed on the pump’s discharge line
  • Make sure that you drill a small air-relief hole in the discharge line (this is the space between the check valve and the pump)
  • Make sure the valve is of a suitable diameter
  • Do not place the sump pump in a pit surrounded by dirt, as it can lead to the accumulation of debris, which will negatively affect the sump pump’s functionality

Once you have installed the sump pump the right way, it should work without any malfunctions in the on/off switched and the float arm.

Once again, if you do not know how to install a sump pump the right way, then you should hire a professional to do that for you. It won’t cost you much.

  1. Clogged Pumps

If your sump pump is installed in a pit filled with dirt, then the intake is at risk of being clogged. If this happens, the pump will not be able to extract water from the pit.

This means the engine will keep running to no avail and might get burnt out from working for longer than it should.

  1. Sump Pump Won’t Turn On

If your sump pump not turning on, then your float switch might be out of place.

  • Sump Pump Float Switch Not Working

Dislodged switches are common causes of sump pump failure. This can happen when the sump pump moves from its original position in the basin.

Keep in mind that the float switch is responsible for the proper functioning of the on and off operation of the pump. But it won’t be possible if the switch is dislodged, as the pump won’t be able to turn on when the pit is full or turn off when the water has been pumped out.

Regular inspection of your switches can ensure they are well placed at all times.

  1. Blocked or frozen drainage pipes

The discharge line of the sump pump is responsible for directing the flow of standing water away from your basement. But if the discharge lines have issues, then water will not be able to flow away properly.

For this reason, you must inspect the discharge lines at regular intervals to make sure there are no clogs whatsoever.

Dirt and other forms of debris commonly clog discharge lines, so ensure that you keep the exit point secure all the time. No rocks, leaves, or small rodents should be able to enter the pipe and block the passage.

Unfortunately, debris and small animals aren’t the only causes of clogged discharge lines, freezing temperatures can also cause blockages at the entrance and stop a proper flow. This is common during the cold winter seasons where droplets of water can get frozen in the discharge line.

The good news is, frozen discharge pipe problems can be solved by using proper insulation. I recommend using grated covers for this problem.

  1. Power Failure

The truth is, there may be nothing wrong with your sump pump, and the reason for its failure is something as simple as a power failure. Funny but true, your sump pump will not function when there’s a power outage unless of course, you have a backup generator to keep the motor running.

Power failures aren’t uncommon, especially in cases of heavy storms which can break power lines and cut off the electricity in your home. For this reason, it is wise you invest in a backup generator to keep your pump functional when needed.

I also need to mention that some components of your sump pump could get damaged by a power surge. Specifically, its onboard circuits and electrical parts.

There’s a simple solution for power surges, and that’s installing in a service entrance protection device. This will not only protect your sump pump components from electrical damages, but it will also protect your home’s entire electrical system.

  1. Defective Parts

Another reason why your sump pump may fail is the wear and tear of some of its components.

As some vital parts of the sump pump become old, their functionality will keep diminishing and you won’t be able to get the best out of your pump.

This doesn’t mean your sump pump was made with inferior parts, it just means the components have gone beyond their best days. This happens with pretty much all other mechanical devices you can think of.

This is why it’s important to test your sump pump every few months or so, even when there’s no flooding, as this will give you hints on how well it works.

Replacing old and worn-out parts is the simple solution in this case. You can get these parts from a hardware store in your neighborhood. You can also hire a sump pump parts expert to recommend the new parts.

  1. Lack of Maintenance

Just like every other mechanical device, sump pumps need to be maintained to perform at full capacity. You don’t need to wait until it develops a fault before you think of attending to it.

Make it a habit to carry out maintenance checks every 4 months or so. If need be, hire a professional to come and inspect it during these intervals.

Good maintenance habits will help keep the parts working perfectly, and can potentially save you some money on major repairs down the line.

Here are some things you can do yourself concerning sump pump maintenance.

  • Use a vinegar solution to clean off any debris and clogs
  • Check the float switch to make sure its upward and downward movement isn’t restricted
  • Clean the air holes and vents
  • Keep your ears open when testing the pump so you can detect any unusual noises

By following these maintenance tips, the chances of a sump pump failure will be greatly reduced.

Sump Pump Stopped Working?

Sometimes, sump pump failure is a result of negligence, such as using the wrong-sized pump or failure to carry out routine maintenance checks.

Follow the tips provided in this article to keep your sump pump working perfectly and troubleshoot mechanical issues when they arise.

Thanks for reading.

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