Sump Pumps: Causes of Failure and How to Fix Them

Most homeowners understand the stress and costs that come with a flooded basement. If you are among the few who discovered sump pumps before having to deal with a flooded basement, you can swear by their effectiveness. Sump pumps are usually installed in basements and linked to a drainage system to pump out water that seeps into a building's basement.

Sump pumps are mechanical equipment and are often prone to malfunction. Prevention is better than having to deal with a failed sump pump, especially during the rainy season. Understanding the different causes of pump failure can help you prevent or manage them when they happen and maintain a dry basement. Here are some common causes of failure.

An overworked pump

If your basement is prone to too much flooding, your sump pump may become overwhelmed. If the pump has to work beyond optimum or is not strong enough to keep up with high volumes of water, it will eventually fail.

To avoid overwhelming your pump, you can switch to a more powerful and efficient one. Opt for a stainless steel pump as opposed to a plastic one. If there is a high volume of water flowing in, you can even have more than one sump pump at different corners of the basement.

Switch failure

The sump pump switch is the main link for controlling the sump pump and the leading cause of pump failure. Switch failure occurs when the pump shifts position in the basin, causing the float to get stuck on the sides of the sump pit. If this happens, the switch won't turn on resulting in failure.

There are different types of float switches. Vertical floats are the most preferable, especially for small diameter basins, as they do not get stuck easily. They rise above the water and activate the switch at a predetermined height to get the pump working.

Improper installation

Different configurations of sump pump are available on the market, all with different installation requirements. If a sump pump is installed incorrectly, it can fail to function altogether. For example, if a check valve is not installed on the discharge line, the backflow of water can cause the impeller to rotate backward unscrewing off the motor shaft. In this case, the pump will be running but not pumping any water.

Always read through the installation guide provided by the pump manufacturer. If you can't get it right, you can have a contractor do the installation for you. The cost will be minimal compared to repairing a broken pump.

Proper and regular maintenance of your sump pump can help detect any potential mechanical malfunctions before they occur. Doing so can save you on pump repairs and dealing with a flooded basement.