Common Reasons Your Sump Pump isn't Working

Owning a home is one of the most valuable assets and in order to be a conscientious homeowner we always suggest installing a sump pump to avoid flooding in your basement. We install Liberty Pumps which are one of the most trusted and reliable suppliers in North America.


However, it is important to note that if it rains heavily (torrential rain) outside and suddenly your basement floods. This could result in your sump pump to stop working.

Unfortunately, this is an all too common scenario. Although you installed a sump pump there’s no guarantee that it is always going to work. It is mechanical and subject to problems just like any other machine. Here are some of the most common failings of any sump pump and some things to consider too.

No Power

This is the number one reason your pump may not work. The power goes out and the pump stops pumping because there is no electricity. The problem is that electrical failures often happen when we are asleep or out of the house. A good precaution is a battery-driven backup pump that kicks in when the power goes out. This is an additional cost to the sump pump, and it does vary based on the size of the pump and size of the battery, but it is well worth it to avoid flooding.

Float Switch

There are two main types of floats – internal and tethered. Internal switches are directly on the pump and have minimal movement vs tethered which is a ball floating on a wire which is connected to the pump. The internal switch just goes up and down, whereas the tethered one floats around the pit freely. When both items rise based on water entering the pit they engage the pump until they drop a certain amount. Both are activated by water entering the pit.

Either float switch can stick, but tethered are more prone to do so as they stick to the walls of the sump pit. Some sump pumps have mechanical pressure switches that fail too. Sometimes float switches are stuck into position due to mineral build up or calcification and if this occurs, you need to unfortunately continuously monitor your pumps for this as failure is inevitable.

Clogged Intake

If the intake plugs up with debris the pump cannot extract water from the sump pit or sump liner. The pump is busy trying to pump and straining the machine. In order to ensure the debris does not build up, it is important to check screens are clear and nothing is lodged in the intake. To put to it simply keep your pump and pit clean.

Underpowered Pump

There are a variety of pumps on the market with different capabilities. It is important that you have one that can handle high volumes of water during severe storms. You will need at least 1/3 horsepower to pump 35 gallons of water per minute in normal conditions. If your house sits on a higher water table or if you can hear your sump pump running often, upgrade to a half horsepower pump which pumps around 60 gallons per minute to be on the safe side.

Frozen Discharge Line

For those of us that live in a cold climate, this is a very common occurrence. If the discharge pipe is not tilted enough, water will sit in the pipe and freeze when temperatures turn cold. This blocks the way for water to discharge and any water the pump collects has nowhere to go but back towards the sump pit. Over time, due to the water having nowhere to go, it eventually spills out and into your basement.

Burn Out

Be sure to check the power on the pump you plan to install or have installed already. If you install an underpowered pump it will burn out quickly. As mentioned above, there are a variety of pumps with different capabilities. Inexpensive materials and components are more prone to failure, particularly when you need them to work the most. Sump pumps that are always doing their best but have too much water built up will fail too.

Tired Equipment

Sump pumps are mechanical and even with the best maintenance they will only last between five and seven years. Be proactive, and continuously monitor your sump pump for build up, power and how age.

Have questions about your current sump pump or installing one in your basement? If you live in Toronto or the surrounding GTA, we provide free in-home inspections and estimates and can show you how you can get your sump pump for free, including installation.


About Nusite

Nusite Contractors Ltd. has been proudly serving GTA homeowners for over 30 years! We are a family business and take pride in customer service and professional work. You can contact us here to schedule a free consultation and written estimate! We would be happy to help!

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