Spotting the Signs of Sump Pump Failure

sump pumpThe certain knowledge that you have a sump pump failure may become clear only at the worst possible time: after expensive water damage occurs because the sump pump didn’t actuate or function correctly. Installed in a basin in the basement floor, sump pumps are on guard 24/7 to protect your basement from hazards like seeping intrusion of ground water, a ruptured indoor pipe or outdoor flooding. A sump pump senses the presence of water entering the basin and automatically actuates, pumping water out through a discharge line that usually leads to the backyard. After the basin empties, the sump pump turns off.

Sump pumps spend most of the time on silent standby, waiting for water intrusion. Therefore, any malfunctions that develop may not be immediately apparent. Here are some signs to be aware of that may indicate a sump pump failure.

Pump Actuates but Doesn’t Empty Basin

This often means the pump inlet screen is clogged by debris. A plumber will need to drain the basin, remove the pump and clean the inlet screen.

Basin Filling, Pump Doesn’t Actuate

Usually, five gallons of water or less in the sump basin is enough to actuate the pump. If the sump basin appears to contain more than five gallons of standing water, some sort of malfunction is likely preventing actuation — a binding float switch, a defective pump motor, etc.

Basin Empty, Pump Running

If the pump continues to run after it has emptied the sump basin, a stuck or defective float switch is likely. You’re lucky to discover it in time — sump pumps tend to burn out if they run dry for an extended period of time. Unplug the pump and call a plumber.

Basin Refills Rapidly and Pump Turns on Again

A check valve in the discharge line is supposed to prevent backflow of water into the basin after the pump shuts off. If the check valve fails, discharged water will quickly flow back into the basin and re-activate the pump, repeatedly turning it on and off.

For more about the water damage consequences of sump pump failure, contact Rytech, Inc.

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