Thursday, September 21, 2023

Common Sump Pump Problems and How to Fix Them

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When it comes to protecting your basement from flooding and water damage, a sump pump plays a crucial role. This simple yet effective device is designed to pump out excess water from the sump pit and redirect it away from your home’s foundation. However, like any mechanical equipment, sump pumps can encounter issues over time, leading to potential malfunctions. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common sump pump problems and provide step-by-step solutions on how to fix them.

Common Sump Pump Problems

Pump Motor Failure

One of the primary reasons for a malfunctioning sump pump is pump motor failure. The motor is the heart of the sump pump and drives its pumping action. If the motor fails, the pump won’t function, leaving your basement vulnerable to flooding.

Switch Problems

The switch is responsible for activating the pump when water reaches a certain level in the sump pit. Switch problems can prevent the pump from turning on or off correctly, disrupting the pumping process.

Float Issues

The float is a component that rises with the water level, triggering the switch to activate the pump. If the float gets stuck or damaged, the pump won’t start or stop as intended.

Clogged Discharge Pipe

The discharge pipe carries water from the sump pump to the outside. It can get clogged with debris, preventing proper water drainage and causing the pump to overwork or stop working altogether.

Incorrect Installation

Improper installation can lead to various issues with the sump pump’s functionality. If the pump is not installed correctly, it may not operate efficiently or could fail prematurely.

How to Fix Pump Motor Failure

To fix pump motor failure, follow these steps:

  1. Troubleshooting the Motor: Check for any visible signs of damage or burnt wires. Test the motor with a voltage meter to ensure it’s receiving power.
  2. Repairing or Replacing the Motor: If the motor is damaged beyond repair, consider replacing it with a new one from the manufacturer or a qualified technician.

How to Fix Switch Problems

To address switch problems, try the following:

  1. Checking the Switch: Inspect the switch for any defects or debris that might be obstructing its movement. Clean or replace the switch if necessary.
  2. Repairing or Replacing the Switch: If the switch is faulty, you can attempt to repair it if you have the expertise. Otherwise, have it replaced by a professional.

How to Fix Float Issues

Follow these steps to fix float issues:

  1. Cleaning the Float: Gently clean the float to remove any dirt or debris that may be causing it to stick.
  2. Adjusting the Float Arm: If the float arm is bent or misaligned, carefully adjust it to ensure smooth movement.

How to Fix a Clogged Discharge Pipe

To clear a clogged discharge pipe, do the following:

  1. Identifying the Blockage: Locate the point of blockage by disconnecting the pipe and inspecting it for debris.
  2. Clearing the Clog: Use a plumbing snake or water pressure to dislodge and remove the blockage from the pipe.

How to Correct Incorrect Installation

If you suspect incorrect installation, consider the following steps:

  1. Common Installation Mistakes: Identify and address any common installation mistakes, such as improper positioning or sealing.
  2. Reinstalling the Sump Pump Properly: If necessary, reinstall the sump pump following the manufacturer’s guidelines or seek professional assistance.

Prevention and Maintenance Tips

To prevent future sump pump problems and ensure its longevity, consider the following tips:

  1. Regular Maintenance Schedule: Create a maintenance schedule to inspect the sump pump, clean the pit, and test its functionality at least twice a year.
  2. Battery Backup System: Install a battery backup system to ensure the sump pump continues to function during power outages.


A properly functioning sump pump is essential for safeguarding your home against water damage and flooding. By understanding the common problems that may arise and knowing how to fix them, you can maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of your sump pump. Regular maintenance and timely repairs are the keys to ensuring your sump pump operates optimally and provides the protection your basement needs.


  1. Q: How often should I test my sump pump? A: It’s recommended to test your sump pump at least twice a year, ideally before the rainy seasons.
  2. Q: Can I install a sump pump by myself? A: While it’s possible to install a sump pump yourself, it’s essential to have some plumbing knowledge and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
  3. Q: What should I do if my sump pump fails during heavy rainfall? A: If your sump pump fails during heavy rainfall, consider using a backup pump or manually removing water from the pit until the primary pump is fixed.
  4. Q: How long does a sump pump typically last? A: With proper maintenance and care, a sump pump can last between 7 to 10 years on average.
  5. Q: Can a sump pump handle sewage or wastewater? A: No, sump pumps are designed to handle clean groundwater or rainwater and should not be used to pump sewage or wastewater.
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