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4 Common Sump Pump Problems (And How to Fix Them)

Apr 22, 2024

By webfx

Many people rely on sump pumps to protect the well-being of their homes. A sump pump’s main purpose is to prevent flooding and water damage in your house, but its benefits and functions extend far beyond that. It safeguards against severe weather and rainfall and reduces the risk of an electrical fire. Sump pumps can even protect your house from mold and pests while ensuring your valuable possessions stay safe.

With all these benefits in mind, you can see why ensuring your sump pump is functioning properly is an essential part of keeping your home and family safe. It’s common for these pumps to have some issues over time, but a broken sump pump could cause more harm than good. While some sump pump issues have easy fixes, others may require replacement. Either way, having a working sump pump is critical. Here are four common sump pump problems and how to fix them:

1. Your Sump Pump Will Not Start

One of the most common sump pump problems is the inability to start or turn on. Here are some reasons why this could happen:

  • The circuit breaker is off: Your circuit breaker controls the electricity throughout your home. See if your circuit breaker is off and reset it. If this fails to solve the issue, contact a plumber or an electrician right away.
  • The fuse is blown or loose: Like all electrical devices, your sump pump will need at least one fuse to work. Fuses can break, so unplug yours and check for any blown fuses within. See if the sump pump works after the fuse replacement. If not, you’ll need help from a plumber or an electrician to bring your sump pump back to working order.
  • The water in the basin is too low: Once the water in your sump pump’s basin reaches a certain depth, your sump pump should turn on and start expelling water. It’s normal for sump pumps to be off even if there is visible water in the basin. Once the water level reaches a certain height, you should see and hear your sump pump turn on and begin working.
  • The pump is disconnected from power or the outlet is malfunctioning: It may seem obvious, but make sure your sump pump is plugged into an electricity source and the wall outlet is working properly. Plug your sump pump fully into a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet that is unaffected by a wall switch.
  • The float cannot move freely: Your sump pump’s float is part of the mechanism that tells the pump when to turn on once the water level reaches the correct height. Debris and various obstacles can prohibit the float from moving freely. Remove any obstacles in the basin that could be obstructing the float.

2. Your Sump Pump Is Running but Not Delivering Much or Any Water

Another common issue for a basement sump pump occurs when your pump is running but not draining any water. If this sounds like what you’re experiencing, try these possible fixes:

  • The check valve may be installed improperly: Your sump pump uses a check valve to prevent backflow in its piping system. Check valves ensure water only flows in one direction. A faulty check valve could cause less or no water to exit your sump pump. Inspect or replace your sump pump’s check valve, referencing the arrows for proper direction, and see if that solves the issue.
  • The shut-off valve may be clogged: A clogged sump pump will have difficulty discharging water from your basement. Evaluate it and remove any clogs. Reopening the shut-off valve should get the water flowing again.
  • The impeller or pump inlet may be clogged: Clogging leads to many of the most common sump pump issues, and this extends to the device’s impeller or pump inlet. Remove your pump from the basin and clean the impeller or inlet to potentially resolve the issue.
  • The pump may be air-locked: An air-locked sump pump cannot discharge water even as it keeps running. Clean out the vent hole in the discharge pipe to remove any dirt or debris that may have accumulated and caused a blockage.
  • The vertical pumping distance may be too high: Different sump pumps will have different ratings regarding how much vertical distance they can send discharged water. If your sump pump is running but not delivering any or much water, you may need to reduce your vertical pumping distance per your sump pump model’s performance chart.

3. Your Pump Is Running Continuously

Sump pumps should automatically shut off after they’ve reduced the basin’s water level to an appropriate amount. Here are two reasons why your sump pump keeps running even when no water needs to be discharged:

  • Stuck float: Your float may be stuck in the “on” position. Ensure the float is not jammed and has room to move freely. Clear any debris that could be causing it to stay on.
  • Defective float: Occasionally, a float will become defective. Even if the float looks like it’s in the “off” position, the sump pump will continue running. In this case, you’ll have to replace the float switch.

4. There Was a Fuse Blown or Circuit Breaker Tripped When Your Pump Started

If a fuse blew or your circuit breaker tripped when your sump pump turned on, try the following two solutions:

  • Clogged impeller or pump inlet: Sometimes, a clogged impeller or pump inlet can lead to a blown fuse or tripped circuit breaker. Try removing the pump and cleaning it before replacing your blown fuse and trying again. Note that you’ll have to reset your circuit breaker to have access to electricity again.
  • Wrong-sized fuse or circuit breaker: You can blow a fuse or trip your circuit breaker if your sump pump draws too much energy for either the fuse or circuit breaker to handle. You’ll need an electrical circuit capacity of 15 amps or higher to successfully run your sump pump.

Is It Time to Upgrade Your Sump Pump?

If you’re still stuck with a faulty sump pump after trying the above fixes, it may be time to upgrade your device. Star Water Systems has a great selection of high-quality sump pumps that will help you get back to protecting your home and possessions from water damage, fire damage, mold and pests. Find a retailer near you or contact us online today for more information. We look forward to providing you with a new sump pump!