Why Is My Sump Pump Always Running?

By:    |   Published March 15, 2024
A sump pump that is always running

Sump pumps are essential for keeping basements dry, actively working to remove water and protect your home from the potential damage caused by flooding. They are the unsung heroes of basement waterproofing, lying quietly in the corner of your basement until needed. However, a sump pump that’s always running is not just an overachiever; it could signify issues that might compromise its efficiency and the safety of your home.

From malfunctioning components to external water pressure, several factors can lead to a sump pump’s constant operation, each requiring immediate attention to prevent damage or excessive wear. Understanding why your sump pump is always running is crucial in maintaining a dry and safe basement. Read on to learn more about identifying and addressing the root causes of a sump pump’s continuous activity.

Why Might a Sump Pump Run Continuously?

One of the most common questions homeowners ask is why their sump pump seems to be in perpetual motion, constantly running even when it seems unnecessary. Understanding the reasons behind this can help you troubleshoot potential issues before they escalate into costly repairs. Here are the key factors contributing to a sump pump’s continuous operation:

  1. Stuck Float Switch: The float switch signals the pump to start when the water level rises and stop when it’s lowered. If this switch gets stuck, the pump might not turn off, leading to continuous operation.
  2. Faulty Check Valve: This valve prevents water that has been pumped out from flowing back into the sump pit. A malfunctioning check valve could cause the pump to cycle on and off repeatedly, trying to manage returning water.
  3. Clogged Discharge Line: The line that carries water away from your home can become clogged, preventing water from being expelled. This blockage can cause the pump to run continuously as it struggles to reduce the water level.
  4. Improperly Sized Pump: If your sump pump is too small for the area it’s meant to service, it may run constantly to keep up with the water volume, leading to overwork and potential failure.
  5. Continuous Water Inflow: External factors such as a high water table or heavy rainfall can cause water to flow into the sump pit at a rate that necessitates constant pumping.

By identifying and addressing the specific cause of your sump pump’s constant running, you can ensure it operates efficiently, maintaining a dry and safe basement.

Risks of a Sump Pump That Won’t Stop Running

A sump pump that runs without pause is not just a sign of diligence; it’s a warning signal that shouldn’t be ignored. Continuous operation can lead to several problems, not only for the pump itself but for your home’s safety and your wallet. Here are the main risks associated with a non-stop running sump pump:

  1. Motor Burnout: The most immediate risk of a constantly running sump pump is the wear and tear on the motor. Sump pumps are designed to cycle on and off, not run continuously. Overworking the pump can lead to motor burnout, necessitating a costly replacement.
  2. Increased Energy Bills: The longer your sump pump runs, the more electricity it uses. This continuous operation can lead to a noticeable increase in your energy bills, affecting your monthly budget.
  3. Ineffective Water Management: If your sump pump is always running but not effectively managing water levels, it could indicate that the system is overwhelmed or malfunctioning. This situation can lead to water damage or flooding, especially during heavy rainfall.
  4. Reduced Pump Lifespan: Like any mechanical device, a sump pump has a limited lifespan, which is significantly reduced by constant use. This not only leads to more frequent replacements but also leaves your basement vulnerable during critical times.
  5. Water Damage and Mold: Over time, the inability of a sump pump to manage water properly can result in moisture accumulation in your basement. This environment is ripe for mold growth and water damage, posing health risks and potentially damaging the structure of your home.

Addressing the reasons behind a sump pump’s continuous operation can mitigate these risks, ensuring the longevity of your pump and the safety of your home.

Troubleshooting a Constantly Running Sump Pump

When faced with a sump pump that won’t stop running, identifying the root cause is the first step towards resolution. Here’s a general guide to troubleshooting this issue, followed by some specific tips that homeowners can safely attempt:

General Troubleshooting Guidance

  • Inspect the Sump Pit: Begin by checking the sump pit for any visible issues. Ensure there’s no debris obstructing the pump’s intake or the float mechanism. A clear path is crucial for the pump’s operation.
  • Evaluate the Float Switch: The float switch is often the culprit in continuous running scenarios. Make sure it’s moving freely and not hindered by any obstructions or tangling.
  • Check the Check Valve: Verify that the check valve is installed correctly and functioning. If water is flowing back into the pit, the valve may be faulty or improperly installed.
  • Examine the Discharge Line: Ensure the discharge line is clear of any blockages and that water can flow freely away from your home. Clogs can force the pump to work overtime.

Specific Troubleshooting Tips

  1. Clean the Sump Pit: Remove any debris, stones, or sediment that could interfere with the pump’s operation or float mechanism.
  2. Adjust or Replace the Float Switch: If the float switch is stuck, try adjusting its position. If problems persist, the switch may need to be replaced.
  3. Test the Check Valve: Remove the check valve to see if it’s the source of the problem. If water flows back into the pit, it’s likely faulty and needs replacement.
  4. Flush the Discharge Line: Use a garden hose to flush out the discharge line. If water doesn’t pass through easily, there may be a clog that needs clearing.

When to Call a Professional

If, after these steps, your sump pump continues to run incessantly, it may be time to consult a professional. Continuous operation can signal more complex issues that require an expert’s touch.

  • If troubleshooting doesn’t resolve the issue.
  • If the sump pump is old and may require replacement.
  • When there’s significant or consistent water accumulation that the pump can’t manage.

A professional can offer solutions that not only fix the immediate problem but also prevent future occurrences, ensuring your basement remains dry and your sump pump operates efficiently.

Schedule Your FREE 20-Point Inspection

The best way to keep your basement dry is with professional waterproofing. EverDry Toledo can help with a FREE 20-point basement inspection! We’ll help you find out if your home is at risk for water damage and which solutions will best serve you.

Contact us online to schedule an appointment or give us a call at (419) 469-5833 and schedule your inspection today!

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