The sump pump is an essential part of the plumbing in every home, yet most people probably don’t even know what one is. In your basement, you are likely to have a hole that sinks into the ground.
This is your sump pit, and inside it, you will find the sump pump, a device that is built to protect your house from flooding.
As the water level below your home rises, it eventually starts pouring into the sump pit.
This triggers a sensor on your pump, which causes it to start redirecting this water into a storm drain so that it won’t flood your basement.
As you can tell, sump pumps are very important pieces of kit, but what happens when they go wrong?
If you’re reading this article, then it is likely that you suspect something has gone wrong with your sump pump.
Over the following sections, we will tell you exactly what a sump pump is, how it works and how you can fix a broken one in your home.
We will teach you how to troubleshoot these devices as well as how to perform simple DIY repairs that will keep your home protected from flooding.
Table of Contents
What Is A Sump Pump?
A sump pump is a type of submersible or pedestal pump with a float attached to it, commonly found in most homes across America.
Most of the time you will be able to find your sump pump in a pit located in your basement.
This pit is called the sump pit, and it is deep below the floor of your basement, so it can be used to detect changes in water level.
During periods of heavy resin or snow melt, water will flood into this pit. This raises the float attached to your sump pump, which triggers it to turn on.
The outlet of the pump will often lead to a storm drain or main sewer. As such, your sump pump is the first line of defense against rising water flooding the basement in your home.
Without one, your basement would routinely flood, likely causing extensive damage to your possessions and the infrastructure of your home.
While these pumps are relatively simple devices, there are few different things that can go wrong with them. That’s why we’ll be teaching you how to troubleshoot these pumps and carry out a few basic repairs that can help to extend their lifetime.
Troubleshooting Your Sump Pump
If you notice that your sump pump isn’t working as it should, then you will first need to identify the type of problem you are dealing with.
These pumps aren’t complicated devices, which means it should be easy to narrow down what has gone wrong depending on the type of issue you are dealing with.
Age Of Your Pump
Most sump pumps aren’t rated to last significantly over ten years. Over this time, certain components within the pump may degrade or start to fall apart.
As such, the first thing you should do when troubleshooting your pump is to check for a label that lists the date it was made.
If your pump is very old, you can still try to perform your own repairs, but it may just be worth buying a new one instead.
Has Your Pump Been Properly Installed?
If your pump appears to be turned on and running, but you can’t see any water in the sump pit, then it may not have been properly installed. The lack of water in the pit signifies your pump isn’t correctly linked up to its drainage system.
Normally, the drainage system would channel water into the pit, so the pump can detect when the water level is rising.
If you notice this issue, then you may need to unclog the drainage tile that leads to your pit or remove your pump and reinstall it.
Is Your Pump Clogged?
Perhaps your pump has slowed down and isn’t moving water at the same speed as it used to. This could be indicative of a clog inside your pump.
Clogs can occur in any pump as debris and dust collects in the water and finds its way inside the device. They are even more likely on lid-less pumps, which have no barrier to stop detritus from entering the pump.
To fix this, you will need to open up your pump and locate the clog, so you can remove it. It will also help to install an airtight lid over your sump pit to prevent items falling into it in the future.
Is Your Pump Too Noisy?
Most of the time, you shouldn’t be able to hear your sump pump in action, and if you do, it should be reasonably quiet.
If your pump is making a lot of noise, then there is likely a problem with the motor that needs addressing.
You should specifically look out for rattling, thudding or gurgling sounds or any other irregular noise coming from your pump.
Is Your Pump Running When It Shouldn’t Be?
Generally, your pump should only be activated when there is heavy rainfall or snow melt. If the weather outside is clement and your pump is running non-stop, then there is definitely something wrong.
You should aim to fix this type of issue as fast as possible, as your pump will need replacing much sooner if it overworks itself.
Overdrive is the term used to describe a pump that won’t turn off, and there are several factors that can cause it to occur. It is possible that you have the wrong size of pump for your home or sump pit.
Alternatively, the check valve could be broken and in need of replacement or the switches attached to the float could be stuck.
It may be the case that the pit is being continually flooded, which will indicate an issue with your drainage system.
Is Your Pump Not Running When It Should Be?
If your pump is losing power instead of being overpowered, then it may have been unplugged by accident. This could also indicate that a fuse has blown somewhere in the circuit that controls your pump, or that your back-up battery isn’t working.
Now that we have covered common issues to look out for, we can now tell you how to fix them. It is worth noting that repairing your sump pump could be very easy or quite difficult, depending on the issues caused.
How To Repair Your Sump Pump?
Repairing your sump pump isn’t difficult and provided you work carefully, and methodically it shouldn’t take you much time.
In this section, we will tell you which components to check and how you can fix them if anything has gone wrong.
To keep things simple and easy, we recommended checking each of the components listed below in order for the sake of speed and convenience.
Necessary Tools For Repairing Your Sump Pump
As with any task, you should first gather a few essential tools so that they are close to hand while you are carrying out your repairs. The first thing you will need is a screwdriver set with multiple different heads.
This will allow you to open up your pump and access its internal components.
It also helps to have a set of electricians pliers in case anything has gone wrong with the circuitry connected to your pump.
It should go without saying, but you should also have a set of thick rubber gloves. This will help with reaching into your sump pit without getting too dirty.
Step 1: Check Your Float?
The float is a small ball-shaped object attached to your pump that acts as its primary sensor.
When the water level in your sump pit rises, so too does the float, and once it reaches a certain height it will activate the pump.
To check if the float is working, try pouring some water into your sump pit. If your float moves with the water level and eventually turns on your pump, then all is fine.
If your float doesn’t behave in this way, then you will need to clean both it and the sump pit. Removing excess debris and dust may help to remove any objects that are stopping the float from working.
Alternatively, if your float isn’t rising with the water level at all, then it may be split. This will allow water to enter the float and weigh it down. In this case, you will need to buy a new float for your pump.
Step 2: Inspect The Check Valve
When you pour water into your sump pit, it should eventually activate your pump, which should then start removing the water you have poured in.
If water starts flowing back into the pit, then there may be an issue with the check valve.
This valve should be located on the discharge pipe attached to your pump. Turn the pump off and unscrew this valve to check for a clog or other issue that would stop water flowing through it.
Step 3: Check The Impeller
The second most likely place to encounter a clog is the pump’s impeller. These are the blades of the pump which scoop up water to push it through the discharge pipe.
To access it, you will need to remove your pump from its pit and use your screwdriver to open it up.
Once you have done this, use a wet cloth to wipe down the blades of the impeller and remove any gunk that has built up on them. If you hear strange noises coming from your pump, then it is likely due to a problem with the impeller.
Step 4: Check The Electronics
If taking the pump apart didn’t work, then your last hope will be to check the electronics.
Locate the circuit that your pump connects to and check for broken wires, blown fuses or other similar issues.
It may sound silly, but also double check that your pump is plugged in. If you do encounter a problem with the electronics, then you can try to solve it yourself.
However, if you don’t have any experience handling electronics, then we would recommend calling a professional instead.
By following the above steps, you should be able to find out what has gone wrong with your sump pump and hopefully repair it if the damage isn’t too severe.
If none of the above steps helped you fix your pump, then it may simply be time to buy a new one.
One thing that can help to prevent future breakages is to buy a backup pump. This can help to take stress off your primary sump pump and really extend its lifetime.
Performing regular maintenance on your sump pump is essential for keeping it in working order. Doing so will help to prevent your basement being flooded the next time it rains.