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Sump Pump Repair Questions

A sump pump is a pump that has been designed to take out water that has collected in a sump basin, usually in the basement of houses, is called a sump pump. These pumps are useful in houses where basement flooding is a common occurrence and also help in combating dampness in places where the water table sits above a house’s foundation. Sump pumps direct the water out of the house and into a dry well or a storm drain.

Listed below are a few questions answered by Experts on sump pump related issues.

My sump pump is pumping water but refusing to shut off. As a result, I have to plug and unplug it every half hour. What can I do to fix this?

It seems like the float in your pump is stuck. If you can take a look at the pump, check to see if the float can freely move up and down. The pump should stop if the float is down. If the float appears to be working, you might need to replace the pump.

My sump pump has stopped pumping out water and is making a buzzing noise. I tried removing sediment and gravel from the bottom and shaking it but it still doesn’t work. Do you know what the problem could be?

You can try removing the pump and cleaning the screen. It’s possible that the impellers have some sediment lodged inside. Remove it and see if the impellers spin freely. In case they spin properly but the motor continues to hum, you might have to get the pump replaced.

Is there a way to check if my sump pump has become faulty or whether the electrical outlet is just malfunctioning?

Try plugging another appliance into the outlet and check if it works. In case it doesn’t, open the electrical circuit breaker panel and check for a tripped breaker. This could have happened because of pump failure. To check if the pump is faulty, run an extension cord from another electrical outlet to the pump and see if it works.

My sump pump has started ringing and I can’t stop it. I tried to unplug it and even managed to shut off the electricity supply but nothing worked. What else can I do?

It seems like your sump pump has a battery backup. These systems have an alarm and they start ringing when the primary pump stops working and the backup starts running. It’s probably better that you call a plumber to check out the pump. Without power, the battery will run out. If the power supply is resumed, the charger should charge the battery. But it’s better to get it checked out since water damage could occur in the event that the backup pump stops working.

My sump pump started smelling like sewage so I used bleach to clean it. The smell is now back. What can I do to get rid of the smell?

If you have stagnant water lying in the sump basin, your pump could start smelling. You could use a shop vacuum to take the water out of the pit, re-fill the basin with water and then add the bleach. In case, the problem persists, use a sealed lid to cover the pit.

Sump pumps could develop problems due to factors like age. Although the life expectancy of a sump pump is estimated to be around ten years, you might need to replace certain parts like the impeller, switch and o-rings to avoid problems during this period. Sump pumps can also be damaged by lightning or power surges. To prevent this, it’s always better to safeguard your entire electrical system at home with a surge protection device that covers the whole house. Finally, if you stay in an area prone to power outages, using a water-powered sump pump or back-up emergency battery would help. However, if you have to undertake any repairs with a sump pump, it’s sensible to ask an Expert to evaluate the situation before you proceed.

Ask a Plumber

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Marc, Plumber
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Experience:  Plumbing heating & home maintenance contractor
50715266
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Recent Sump Pump Questions

  • Previous owner rigged a laundry room in entry foyer off of

    Previous owner rigged a laundry room in entry foyer off of garage, which is on opposite side of house from main drain (we have an L-shaped ranch with sewage system & sump pump; main line exits thru basement by sump pump which is located on other end of house farthest away from garage). Drain pipe (3/4inch PVC) begins about a foot above washing machine (he connected the rubber hose from old machine to it) and water is pushed up from machine thru PVC pipe, then turns left thru wall just below ceiling, and out to other side of wall (garage side) turning left again via joint connecting a wider pipe (2 inch PVC). It then runs horizontally against that wall to go over foyer entry door frame and then turns right at corner of adjacent garage wall, and then travels down, at an angle for about 2 feet, then levels out horizontally across that wall until it drops another 90 degrees down to about a foot above the floor where it enters that wall. (This entry point is just to the right of boiler and hvac closet in garage on same wall). That pipe then connects to kitchen sink drain pipes, we assume, (when washer is draining we can hear water rushing by behind kitchen wall). Kitchen is located where house L's. Basement begins beneath adjacent kitchen wall and extends under the other side of the L.
    We have bought a new washing machine (GE top loading) and the drain hose reaches the vertical PVC pipe but doors not fit into it the way the rubber hose did (which he pretty much had taped together). We bough various adapters and clamps and can rig it to attach and seal...but are concerned about drain pumps ability to push drain water up and out like the old machine (whirlpool from 1991)...and also concerned that leftover water in pipe which doesn't make it out at the top, has nowhere to go other that back down into washing machine (not really sure how this never happened with old machine). Writing you for answer that we hope is not call a plumber and change entire pipe system. What on earth is this rig this guy made and how did it work this long without problems? And what should we do now?
  • Built a new house, and the interior foundation drain (under

    Built a new house, and the interior foundation drain (under the concrete floor) goes from the sump pit to the "basement to curb" storm sewer line with a "T" joint 8 feet from the sump pit opening. Builder will put in a sump pump at no cost … but I would like to get the "interior drain to storm drain" line "roto rooted" but the builder said there is no way to get the rooter snake to make the 90 degree turn at the 8 foot mark to clean the storm sewer line. Suggestions? Help!
  • This is a question about code and possibly design. My house

    This is a question about code and possibly design. My house was built in 1945. It has a basement, and the washer is down there. Grey water from the washer goes to a sump pump room. The sump pump line is connected to the sanitary line inside the basement. The sanitary line goes outside then to the city sanitary system. (Has a clean out outside)

    Here is the text from my city's web page:
    "The EPA outlawed storm water connections into sanitary sewer systems in the early 1970’s. However, many homes built prior to 1970 routinely have downspouts, sump pumps, area or patio drains, and foundation drains tied to the sanitary sewer system. Engineering studies conclude that many illegal connections remain. The City and NEORSD continue to inspect and require disconnection of these illegal storm connections.

    Residents are urged to do their part by having an inspection of their inside plumbing to see if there are any improper connections to the sanitary sewer system. Downspouts that are piped underground may be connected to the sanitary sewer. Your storm sump should discharge through a pipe in your foundation wall to the outside of your home. Area and patio drains should outlet to a storm sewer. If in doubt, contact the Engineering Department at ### ***** schedule an inspection and or test to determine where your drain discharges. Should you find an improper connection, a registered plumber should be contacted to correct the situation."

    The gutters are set up for surface discharge to the yard. I want to sell this house in 5 years. I don't want a big disclosure for the storm system or lack thereof. If the storm water comes into the sump pump area through the foundation it would be pumped out through the sanitary line.

    Based on your experience and the above city text, would I have to make a change to sell my home now. I'm not expecting a future prediction.
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