If you have had a sump pump for a long time look out for these five signs to see if you may need to consider replacing your sump pump!
Sump Pump Constantly Runs
If your sump pump continues to run, regardless of weather conditions or water levels, this is a serious indicator that something is amiss with your pump. When a sump pump is running even after all the water is emptied from the basin, an excessive strain is placed on the motor of the pump. The water helps cool the pump down, so if the pump is running without any water, it can quickly overheat. If this problem persists, your pump will become overexerted to the point of premature failure. This is a fairly common problem, and there are a variety of factors that can lead to an overextended sump pump. One of the most frequent causes of an endlessly running pump is improper sump pump size. A pump that is too small for your basin will be unable to handle the volume of water and will struggle to displace the water. A pump that is too large for the basin will be forced to work harder, as the water will fill the basin faster and the pump can end up running dry.
Another common reason for occurs is because of a float switch that is stuck in the “on” position. Float switches are lightweight devices designed to float upwards as the water in the sump pit rises. When the float switch reaches a certain height, the switch triggers the pump to turn on, and when the water levels descend, the switch turns the pump off. When the float switch becomes jammed or entangled, the pump can continue to run. Debris, wires, or pipes can catch the switch and turn it to the on position. An improperly installed sump pump may shift in the basin, causing the switch to become pressed against the side of the pit and initiating a nonstop cycle. The switch can lose connection to the power source, break, or become caught on the sides of the basin. If the pump is running endlessly, the first thing to check is the float switch.
A sump pump with an unusually loud motor indicates that the motor is reaching the end of its life. If you have an older, plastic pump, it’s time to get a new system altogether. Consider upgrading to a cast-iron, self-lubricating pump. These pumps are more reliable and require less intensive maintenance. Cast-iron pumps are also less likely to overheat, which will preserve the pump and extend its life. If you have a newer pump, you can replace the failing motor without having to replace the entire pump. Pedestal sump pumps have motors that sit about the basin, with tubing connecting them to the pump in the basin. These pumps tend to last longer, because they aren’t submerged, but are also much louder. They can generate noise that reverberates throughout your basement. A submersible sump pump sits in the water, and though they do not last as long, they are more effective at preventing basement flooding. Furthermore, they are quieter, and the basin can be covered with an airtight lid. This will contain the noise and muffle the sound of the working pump.
The best way to protect your pump from clogging is to address the source of incoming debris. Securing the sump pump basin with an airtight lid or grate will prevent stray leaves, sticks, and small animals from falling down the pit. It will also protect the pump from anything in your basement rolling down into the pit and damaging the pump (like tennis balls, nails and screws, and tools). If water is delivered to the sump pump by a downspout, installing a screen to catch sediment and leaves will protect the pump from becoming plugged up. Bacterial iron, also known as iron ochre, is a gelatinous, slimy contaminant present in many wells and groundwater supplies. This thick orange sludge is the result of oxidized ferric iron and will clog up any number of household fixtures, including your sump pump. To get bacterial iron out of your water supply, you may need to shock chlorinate your well water.
When a pump is cycling in sporadic bursts or taking too long to empty the water from the basin, it’s a good indicator that something is wrong with your pump. A pump with continual bursts of activity is often an indicator of a failed check valve. The water being displaced from the sump pit isn’t making it out of the discharge line, and the pump is being forced to pump the same water over and over again. Loose wiring can cause your pump to cut off for no apparent reason. If your pump cuts off for no visible reason, turn off the power to the pump and disconnect the pump. Inspect the wiring to make sure that there are no dangling wires and all the necessary connections have been made. A short-circuiting electrical system can also shut the pump off.
Though it may seem intuitive that an older sump pump is more likely to fail than a new one, many homeowners put off replacing their pumps until it’s too late. If the pump has historically worked satisfactorily, you may have forgotten how long the pump has been down there and put off routine maintenance. Regardless of performance, if your pump is approaching ten years, it is not worth risking a failure. A decade of wear and tear will reduce the efficiency of the pump, and the parts will start to degrade and inevitably fail. Replacing a pump is much cheaper and much easier than renovating a basement ravaged by water damage.