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Why Is My Sump Pump Not Working?

John Turpin is our resident home service repair expert here at Service Direct. He’s got the knowledge and experience to help homeowners like you make sense of most home repair issues. And with Service Direct, we connect you with top-tier service professionals to help with any repairs needed.

Don’t Panic if You Find Your Sump Pump Not Working

The sump pump prevents water damage in your basement or crawlspace. Most homeowners rely on this equipment to keep their homes dry and safe during heavy rainfalls or flooding. It’s an invaluable device that can also break down, and when that happens, you’re bound to deal with significant water damage.

This blog post explores common answers to the question, “Why is my sump pump not working?” Whether it’s due to a faulty float switch, a malfunctioning motor, a clogged discharge line, or power outages, we’ll discuss how you can be better equipped to troubleshoot and fix your sump pump.

Signs the Sump Pump Is Not Working

Before discussing what’s causing a sump pump not to work, it’s a good idea to know the signs are of a sump pump not working. The most obvious sign something’s wrong with your sump pump is when there’s standing water in your basement or crawlspace. It means your sump pump isn’t doing its job of removing excess moisture or water.

Another sign is if you hear strange noises coming from the sump pump. For instance, you hear rattling or grinding sounds. This could mean there’s a problem with the motor or other components of the pump. Unpleasant odors could also mean the sump pump isn’t working correctly, as it could be a sign of mold or mildew growth.

Is your sump pump vibrating excessively? If it’s the case with your pump, it might be an imbalance. Or, it could be a problem with the motor. Lastly, there’s the age of the sump pump. If it’s old and has not had sump pump maintenance for a while, it’s probably time to replace it entirely.

As soon as you notice these signs, it’s crucial to take action immediately to prevent water damage to your home.

Sump Pump Not Working new install tips
Check out the list below for the most common causes your sump pump is not working.

Reasons Behind a Sump Pump Not Working and How to Fix It

Is your sump pump not pumping water out? Is your sump pump not turning on automatically? Are you unsure if you should be considering a sump pump replacement? You’ll understand more when you read the following common causes of a sump pump not working and what to do about it.

Power Failure

A power failure is the most common cause of a sump pump not working. If you notice it’s not turning on or has stopped working, check if it’s receiving power. The first thing you should do is to see if the circuit breaker was tripped. If it is, reset it and try turning the pump on again. If the circuit breaker keeps tripping, you may need professional help.

Clogged Intake Screen

The filter or intake screen prevents debris from getting into the sump pump and clogging the impeller. Over time, dirt, debris, leaves, and twigs accumulate on the screen, causing it to clog and reduce in efficiency. A clogged intake screen makes it difficult for the sump pump to draw water into the basin and will stop it from turning on.

Fortunately, it’s easy enough to fix. You just need to turn off the sump pump and clean the intake screen with a hose or a brush.

Our resident home repair guru, John Turpin, has provided a list of common reasons why your sump pump isn’t working, along with some resolutions and DIY tips to fix it.

Stuck Float Switch

The float switch is an important part of a sump pump, helping regulate water levels in the basin. This switch turns on the sump pump when the water level rises and then turns off when it reaches a specific level. If the float switch gets stuck or becomes misaligned, it can prevent the pump from turning on or off.

If you think the float on the sump pump is not working, turn the device off and check the switch. Make sure that it moves freely and that no debris obstructs it.

Sump Pump Not Working repair tips
Sump Pumps can have a handful of reasons for not working.

Overworked Pump

If the sump pump ran constantly or longer than usual, it’s common for it to stop working simply from being overworked. Overworking can lead to overheating, and that can lead to the sump pump either shutting down or malfunctioning.

There are several reasons why overworking can happen, which include a larger-than-expected volume of water entering the basin. It could also be because of a blocked discharged pipe or a malfunctioning check valve.

One way to fix this problem is to use the correct sump pump size for your home’s needs. Another way to fix it, or rather to prevent the problem, is by making sure your sump pump is serviced regularly.

Malfunctioning Check Valve

The check valve is part of the sump pump that prevents water from flowing back into the basin after being pumped out. If it’s not working somehow, the water can flow back in and cause the pump to turn on and off nonstop. This can result in the sump pump overworking and leading it to fail.

How do you fix a sump pump not working due to a malfunctioning check valve? Start by checking the valve and confirming it’s the root issue. If it’s really malfunctioning, the next step to take is to replace it with a brand-new check valve.

Blocked Discharge Pipe

A blocked discharge pipe is another possible cause of a sump pump not working. The discharge pipe directs water away from your home’s foundation. Over time, it can become blocked with dirt, leaves, gravel, and other debris.

The clog can prevent the water from flowing out of the basin. This causes the pump to fail or constantly turn on and off. You can fix this issue simply by clearing the discharge, either with a plumbing snake or hose.

It’s important to address the issues with your sump pump as soon as possible. This is because of the crucial role that the equipment plays in making sure your home doesn’t suffer from water damage.

Fortunately, you can avoid the worst that can happen by having your sump pump serviced regularly. If you don’t know how to handle a sump pump not working, we recommend contacting a professional for assistance.

Sump Pump FAQs

How often do I test my sump pump?

Test it at least once every three months. Do it like this: pour water into the sump pit and see if the pump turns on and pumps the water out. Ensure you check your sump pump regularly to detect any issues early on, effectively preventing water damage to your home.

Can I replace my sump pump by myself?

Replacing a sump pump is not easy, as it needs specialized knowledge and tools. It’s best to let the experts handle it, which they ensure is done correctly and safely. Another benefit of calling a pro is they can tell you the right type and size of sump pump that suits your home.

How do I prevent my sump pump from overheating?

You can keep your sump pump from overheating by using the correct size for your home’s needs. It also helps if you avoid overworking it. If it runs continuously, it will surely overheat and fail. Have a professional maintain the pump regularly, inspecting the discharge pipe and ensuring it’s not blocked.

When do I need to replace my sump pump?

If the sump pump constantly malfunctions, that’s a good enough reason to replace it. If you hear strange noises and excessive vibrations, something is likely wrong with the device. If it’s breaking down often, that’s an even more obvious sign. Let a professional try fixing the sump pump, and if it doesn’t work, then you should definitely replace it.

Hire a Local Plumbing Pro

The methods above are effective DIY tips to investigate, diagnose, and fix your sump pump. But if you need professional help, then don’t hesitate to contact a local plumbing pro using the phone number or form on this page.

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