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Why Is My Sump Pump Constantly Running?

sump pump constantly running and not draining

A sump pump is designed to protect your basement from the risk of flooding by draining water that accumulates in a sump pit. However, if your sump pump is constantly running without getting rid of water or keeps running even when there's no water in the pit, you should act immediately. Here are a few reasons why a sump pump keeps running and indicates a plumbing problem:

 

  • Jammed float switch Normally, when water in the sump pit reaches a certain level, the float switch triggers the pump to turn on and drain the pit. Once the water level is low enough, the pump turns off. However, if the float switch malfunctions or the lightweight float stop that measures the water level gets stuck, the pump may continue running as it’s signaled to operate.

  • Underground leak A burst sewer pipe or leaky drain line from the pool or sprinkler system can cause water to seep into the sump pit, which forces the sump pump to operate more frequently. Although a running pump indicates that the device is doing its job, the underlying plumbing issue should be addressed promptly. The excess water can damage your home’s foundation or overwhelm the sump pump.

  • Check valve failure The discharge line carries water from the sump pit to the end of a pipe that drains safely away from your home’s foundation. However, since a basement sump pump is below ground, the first metre or two of the discharge line runs straight up. A check valve inside the pipe prevents water from flowing back down the pit. If this valve malfunctions, the pump won’t be able to drain the hole successfully and will keep running.

  • High water table If your house is too close to the water table line or an underground spring, the sump pump must constantly run to prevent the basement from flooding. Heavy rainfall or snowmelt can provoke or worsen this problem. Since you can’t change the location of your house, consider installing a second sump pump to protect your basement in case the first one fails.

  • Blocked or leaking discharge pipe Your sump pump sends water out of your house through a discharge pipe typically made from PVC. This pipe can crack and break due to ground movements or become blocked by debris or a tree root. Water leaking from the discharge line will return to the sump pit. If the pipe is clogged, your pump must work non-stop to force the water through the blockage.

  • Undersized sump pump Your sump pump sends water out of your house through a discharge pipe typically made from PVC. This pipe can crack and break due to ground movements or become blocked by debris or a tree root. Water leaking from the discharge line will return to the sump pit. If the pipe is clogged, your pump must work non-stop to force the water through the blockage.

  • Clogged inlet screen Your sump pump sends water out of your house through a discharge pipe typically made from PVC. This pipe can crack and break due to ground movements or become blocked by debris or a tree root. Water leaking from the discharge line will return to the sump pit. If the pipe is clogged, your pump must work non-stop to force the water through the blockage.

  • Broken impeller Your sump pump has an impeller inside it, a device that looks like a fan. The impeller spins, draws water in from the pump pit and pushes the water out through the discharge pipe. If your impeller is broken or clogged, the motor will run, but the impeller won’t spin, and water won’t enter or exit the pump.


Why Is a Continuously Running Sump Pump a Problem?

If your sump pump is constantly running and you can’t troubleshoot the problem, you should call a professional plumbing company. Here’s why.

  • Your sump pump could stop working If the sump pump continuously operates without water in the pit, it may overheat and die, leaving your basement vulnerable to flooding and extensive water damage. You’ll also be saddled with the pump replacement and installation cost.

  • You’ll have higher energy bills A sump pump runs on electricity, and if your pump is operating all the time, your energy bills will go up.

  • You’ll shorten your pump’s lifespan A typical sump pump should last between 10 and 15 years. A sump pump that keeps running will wear out and need replacing much more quickly and be more susceptible to malfunctions.


How to Care for an Overworked Sump Pump

Like any appliance in your home, your sump pump requires regular maintenance to operate smoothly and efficiently. You should get your pump professionally cleaned and serviced once a year.

Every three or four months, you should remove the sump pump, clean the inlet filter and remove any debris from the pit. Then, ensure the float switch operates by pouring water into the hole until the switch is triggered.


Sump Pump and Plumbing Services in the GTA

At Black Forest Plumbing, we offer a wide range of plumbing services, from drain cleaning to sump pump repairs. You can also rely on our emergency plumbing services in the event of a basement flood. For more information, or to schedule an appointment, contact us today. We’re proud to serve our Ontario clients in Aurora, Newmarket and the Greater Toronto Area.


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