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Sump Pump Issues

Check out common sump pump issues, the damages they cause, and what you should do to protect your home.

Flooded basement

Sump Pump Issues Can be Costly and Damaging to Your Home

Keeping a basement dry and healthy is not as easy as it seems; a good sump pump is vital to the structural integrity of your home, especially if you live in an area that sees a lot of rain or flooding. By collecting and removing water from beneath your basement floor, your sump pump is designed to deal with standing water before it reaches your home. As you can imagine, sump pump issues can cause damage, dampness, and structural issues in your home.

Why Your Sump Pump is Important

Your basement is essentially built in a hole in the ground, and while this maximizes the space in your home, it brings a host of unique issues as well. The most common issues are dampness and standing water; even the most arid area will have water locked into the soil and heavy rain will increase soil saturation levels.

This is just one of the reasons you should install a sump pump in your basement if you don’t have one already. Prolonged droughts and heavy rains can cause many issues for your basement and foundation. Standing water, humidity, mold and mildew, and rising dampness are just some of the issues that can arise when you don’t have a sump pump or your sump pump is damaged.

One of the biggest benefits of a sump pump is that it is very reactive. Sump pumps have a float switch, which means they only activate when the standing water reaches a level at which the pump is needed. When paired with a good dehumidifier, a sump pump can effectively ward off most common dampness-related issues.

What Causes Sump Pump Issues?

If you invest in a good sump pump to begin with, it should have a lifespan of around 10 years before simple wear and tear causes it to break down. Of course, if you live in an extremely wet climate, your sump pump will have to work harder to keep your home dry which could decrease its lifespan dramatically. Age and hard use aside, the most common causes of sump pump failure are as follows.

  • Switch Malfunctions

Most sump pumps operate via a floating switch, which trips when water levels rise to or above a certain level. If the switch becomes jammed or disconnected, your pump can fail to activate or continually run. If it fails to activate, you will soon see flooding in your basement. However, if the switch sticks in the “on” position, your sump pump can quickly burn out as a result of running dry.

  • Power Outages

If your home’s power cuts out, your sump pump will not work. If the pump is connected to an alternate power source like a backup battery or the power in the main house is in working order, it may be a connection issue. Check that your pump is connected and that the connections are undamaged.

  • Blockages in the Discharge Pipe

If your discharge pipe is blocked, or the water inside it freezes, it won’t matter how hard your sump pump works; there’s simply nowhere for water to go! If you find standing water beginning to rise into your basement, check the discharge pipe for obvious external blockages before you do anything else.

  • Clogs in Your Sump Pump

The pit holding your sump pump should be covered by a lid to prevent the pump itself from becoming clogged by debris. If your pump is clogged, it will not work as well as it should, and it could quickly break down. As such, you should check your pump regularly and invest in a cover for the pit.

Common Sump Pump Issues

A sump pump in perfect working order should go unnoticed; your basement should remain dry and clean with minimal fuss and noise. As such, the most obvious sign that your sump pump is broken, beginning to fail, or simply not powerful enough for your home is standing water in and around the pit. If you notice this even when rain is light, you should consider investigating your sump pump for possible issues. These are the most common sump pump issues and the problems they can cause.

  • Noisy Sump Pump

Sump pumps are not silent when they work, but they should produce more of a steady hum than anything else. If your sump pump is making jarring rattling, grinding, or gurgling sounds, this is a warning sign. The most common cause of such sounds is a problem with the motor or debris being lodged in the pump or discharge pipe. The most likely result of not addressing this issue is a breakdown.

  • Consistently Running Pump

If your pump continues to run after the pit is free from standing water, you should investigate immediately. There are a number of issues that could cause this. Jammed switches, debris, improper installation, and sensor failure can all result in a continually running pump or a pump that fails to activate at all. It is important that you address this quickly as the pump will either fail as a result of overwork, or your basement could flood with the next heavy rain if it fails to activate at all.

  • Continual Flooding

If your sump pump pit is continually full of standing water that begins to flood your basement, your sump pump is either broken or working at a decreased rate. Blockages in your pump and drain can cause this, as can total failure of the sump pump.

How to Fix a Damaged Sump Pump

Finding your basement flooded as a result of an inefficient or broken sump pump can be incredibly frustrating. After all, no one wants to wade through ankle-deep water in their own home. There are a few things that you can do to maintain and improve the performance of your sump pump, but if it has broken down entirely it really is time to call the basement waterproofing experts at Groundworks.

If you suspect it is a simple clog or blockage, you should first switch the pump off and check the filter, pit, and main pump for obvious debris. If you cannot see any blockages in this area, you should check that the floating switch is not jammed or tangled, then check the discharge pipe for external blockages. Once you have done this, try switching the pump back on. If it begins to work again, you should quickly notice an improvement in the water levels in your basement.

You should still seek a professional opinion, however, especially if it seems to be working at a reduced rate. If the pump still does not begin working after you have done this, it’s time to call in an expert to drain your basement and inspect the pump.

FAQs About Sump Pumps and Related Problems

If you have experience, you can try to clear blockages and clogs yourself, but it is best that you let a professional perform any mechanical or electrical repairs to avoid further damage to the pump. Again, signing up for an annual maintenance plan with your local basement waterproofing professionals can save you a lot of time and headaches.

The most common causes of sump pump failure are blockages in the pump, clogs in the drainage pipe, loss of power, wear and tear, and faulty or broken floating switches. If these are the case with your sump pump, be sure to contact your local basement professionals for assistance. You also can take advantage of annual maintenance programs with these experts so ensure your sump pump and other basement waterproofing solutions are in good working order to best protect your basement and home.

Every basement has a unique set of needs and potential issues. It is best to ask for a professional opinion when choosing a sump pump, and don’t just opt for the cheapest option. The money you save now could come back to bite you if the pump fails to work effectively for your home and you need to have repairs done (or a replacement pump installed).

A sump pump is your home’s best defense against rising dampness and standing water in your basement. A good sump pump will keep your basement free from water in even heavy downpours.

It’s best to pair your sump pump with an interior drainage system. These interior drains will catch leaking water around the perimeter of your basement and then direct this water to the sump pump to be removed from the basement. Your local basement waterproofing experts will be able to install these solutions together and with other tools for more comprehensive basement protection.

Let the Professionals Sort Out Your Sump Pump Woes

Sump pumps are fairly complicated pieces of machinery, so if you suspect there is anything wrong with yours, it is best to let an expert look at it. After all, what could be a small job to a professional could become a much larger one if certain DIY attempts are made. It’s not worth it to fiddle with the pump’s internal workings and make the issue worse. That makes it helpful to contact a Groundworks waterproofing expert.

Remember that every basement is unique and that your sump pump is your main line of defense against flooding. It’s far better to be safe than take your chances and end up being sorry you didn’t call in an expert.

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