Any water that flows into your basement will make its way to this lowest point, which is why submersible sump pumps are in sump pits at the lowest point of your basement.
When water enters your basement, the pump pulls it away from your foundation into your wastewater system and keeps your basement from flooding.
The first warning sign there is an issue with your sump pump is often a basement floor that goes splash. Beyond that, warning signs include:
- Makes strange noises
Sounds coming from your pump can indicate worn or damaged parts. If the motor noise from your sump pump is excessive, the motor could have a failed bearing. Rattling or grinding noises may mean a jammed or damaged impeller, the fan on the bottom that pulls water into the pump.
- Vibrates Excessively when Running
Pumps that have sucked up hard debris can have their impellers bent or damaged. An impeller is like a propeller except that it draws things in instead of propelling something along. Impellers are balanced to minimize wear on the shaft that they spin on. One that is bent or damaged will cause the whole thing to wobble and create stress on the shaft. The wobbling creates noise and is an indicator of future pump problems. Re-bending an impeller is nearly impossible to do right, so your best bet is to replace the unit.
- Infrequent Pump Usage
Similar to car batteries, limited use of a sump pump will reduce its shelf life. Regularly testing your sump pump in between heaving rains will give you an early indication of any problems and support the mechanisms inside the appliance.
Do yourself a favor and keep a notebook of when you test the pump. If this is the first time you’ve considered activating it, or you’re new to the home, call us for maintenance and testing.
- Runs All the Time
The leading cause of sump pumps running all the time is a switch problem. The float is responsible for the smooth operation of the on/off switch. Your sump pump relies on both the switch and the float arm mechanisms to operate. Switch issues can occur when the pump shifts inside the basin, rendering the float ineffective, or the switch loses connection with its power source.
Tethered switches that drift to the side of the pump are prone to hanging up on your sump basin. Vertical floats with plastic brackets frequently break, and the vibrations from an improperly installed pump may push any float switch against the side of the container.
If your sump pump runs continuously for no reason, it may not be able to handle the water load it’s supposed to, and you may want to consider replacing it.
- Irregular Cycling
If your sump pump is cycling on and off frequently, even in heavy rains, there’s probably something wrong. It might be as simple as an incorrectly adjusted float switch that is causing the pump to come on when only a few inches of water accumulates in the basin.
Wiring malfunctions could also contribute to the pump turning on and off at odd intervals. A short in the electrical system, either in the house or the machine will prompt the pump to start or stop sporadically.
- It Runs for a Long Time
This symptom probably means that your pump does not have sufficient horsepower, either for the volume of water it is required to handle or for the distance it must pump it. Calculating what size pump you need is a pretty involved matter involving pipe diameters, plumbing elbows or pathways, and reservoir dimensions.
Determining pump size not only includes the volume of water that it will be moving, but also the drain pipes and layout. If the pump has to push water up tall, vertical plumbing fixtures, it will need more power to combat gravity. Also, if there are a lot of turns and elbows in the layout, more power will be required to force water through the bends. Sump pumps that have to eliminate water through long drain pipes also need a lot of horsepower to move water to the opening.
- Visible Rust
The brown stuff could be from corroded battery terminals, but sometimes the discoloration is due to bacteria. Commonly referred to as Iron Bacteria because of its color, the blight feeds off iron in water causing discoloration and in extreme cases, a gel-like substance that can clog plumbing, including your sump pump.
Iron bacteria is not a human health hazard, but it will cause problems with water flow in your drainage system.
- Seven Years Old or Older
Regardless of maintenance and cleaning, these devices do not last forever. If yours is older than seven years, go ahead and replace it.
- The Motor Gets Stuck Sometimes
The life of a pump motor can run out prematurely if it’s endlessly sucking up sediment and other material. A filter can be used to help keep such things out of your pump and extend its life. They do have to be cleaned and replaced periodically.
- Motor Failure
Your sump pump could stop working because of an internal wiring failure. If the pump is getting electrical power to the unit but is still not working, there could be an electrical problem inside. Make sure it’s plugged in, and that it didn’t throw a fuse or breaker before searching for other causes.
If water cannot exit your home through the discharge line, your system will not work. Your pump system may have an extension hose that drains water away from the pit. When the temperature drops below freezing, this hose can ice up, resulting in a clog. When the pump tries to send water through the frozen hose, the water back flows or stops moving entirely, causing the motor to run at a higher output level, leading to burnout.
- Installed by the Builder
Not all contractors are plumbing or waterproofing experts. New construction homes are not exempt from basement flooding, so if your sump pump came with the house, call us for an inspection.
- Frequent Power Outages
Most sump pumps are directly wired into your home’s electrical system. Some components of the sump pump may be vulnerable to damage from power surges, causing pump failure.
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