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What To Do When a Sump Pump Fails

When it comes to disaster prevention, a sump pump is one of the most important devices that you’ll ever rely on. Unfortunately, when this simple yet vital system fails at the wrong time, you get catastrophic results – leading to higher insurance premiums, thousands in water damage, and daily disruptions as major repair work is being done.

When the water level in the sump pit gets too high during heavy rains or snow melts, the float switch rises with the amount of water and, at a certain level, causes the pump to run and prevent standing water/flooded basements/mold growth/flood damage to drywall and more.

To avoid sump pump failures, many homeowners keep a replacement pump handy just in case their sump pump dies, but that doesn’t do any good if yours dies while you’re out of town during a power outage or if your pump gives out while you’re sleeping through a stormy night.

This is why you want a sump pump backup system, so no matter the time or reason for the sump pump failure, the backup system will be your knight in shining armor.

Why Sump Pumps Fail

Sump pump lifespans range from 3-20 years, with the average lifespan being 10 years.

Why do sump pumps fail? The #1 reason is a power outage, not a problem with the sump pump unit itself. Other events can also cut off the supply of electricity; for example, the sump pump can get unplugged, or lightning can trip GFCI outlets.

Even when the power stays on, the pump itself can fail. An inexpensive unit is often too small to handle the flow from rapidly melting snow or a major downpour. Other causes of sump pump failure include:

  • Lost pump efficiency
  • Regular running causes the pump to burn out early
  • The motor runs, but the pump doesn’t eject the water
  • Float switches get trapped inside the pump and can’t switch on the pump
  • Inexpensive switches can cause motor burnout
  • An electrical power outage (one of the most common reasons)
  • The wrong-size pump (if it’s too big, it has to work harder)
  • A pump that isn’t installed correctly
  • A switch problem (one of the leading mechanical causes)
  • A poorly maintained pump
  • A discharge line that is frozen or has a clog (a clog in the discharge lin is a very common cause of sump pump failures, causing the water to backup, potentially causing water damage to homeowners’ basements or crawl spaces)

What to Do When Your Sump Pumps Fails

If your sump pump fails, you can try a few things to get the system running again: divert groundwater away and prevent or lessen the water damage from a flooded basement.

When working on a sump pump, it is VITAL to disconnect it from the power source, and if working during a rainstorm with heavy lightning, then you should consider calling a professional plumber for your sump pump problems.
Once disconnected from power, make sure the sump pit (located in your home’s foundation, typically by a basement wall) is free from debris that could cause a clog or remove a blockage from the inlet of the discharge pipe, allowing the excess water to get to the drainage system.

If your float switch causes it to click but not get the pump running, disconnect from the power source and possibly check to ensure something is not blocking the impeller from moving. (Again, this is potentially EXTREMELY dangerous and not recommended as DIY troubleshooting for when your sump pump stops working. These types of powerful water pumps can cause serious injury)

Getting a Battery Backup System

The best way to protect your property, your belongings, and your furnishings is to invest in a battery backup system consisting of a battery, a battery-powered pump, a charger, and piping. This, plus regular maintenance, means you have great peace of mind in a power failure. 

While backup systems come in good, better, and best units, the “best” units have larger batteries and a better battery charger. The larger battery has a longer run time, and the better charger extends the battery’s life.

While getting the “best” units is beneficial, if you have minor seepage and don’t experience power outages often, you may be safe buying a less expensive backup system. Then again, that cost savings could be expensive if a 100-year storm sweeps into town, knocks out the power, and floods your basement. So in order to avoid needing a water damager restoration company to fix the issues from your basement flooding, consider having a battery backup system and sump pump installed today!

Looking for a plumber in Kansas City to help you with a sump pump or backup system? Call A-1 Sewer & Septic Service Inc. to schedule a service call with one of our friendly and knowledgeable plumbers!