Springtime in Wisconsin is both the beginning of the rainy season and also the time when snowmelt will saturate the ground. If you live in a low-lying area where water collects, then you know the importance of a functioning sump pump during the spring season. Winter is a great time to test your sump pump to ensure that it’s working well. If you find that you’re having issues, here’s a troubleshooting guide to help repair your sump quickly and keep it in top condition.

Not Pumping Fast Enough

One big problem that you may run into with your sump pump is that it isn’t keeping up with the incoming volume of water. The most likely culprit here is an undersized sump pump. Pumps come in a variety of sizes, offering different capabilities. The existing sump pump you have may no longer be able to keep up with the water demand in your basement or crawl space.

This can be fixed in one of two ways. You can upgrade to a sump pump with a larger working capacity that can move more water in the same amount of time. Or, you can opt to have one or more sump pumps installed alongside your existing sump pump. For basements that experience a lot of water intake, it may be necessary to have multiple sump pumps in operation to ensure that water levels remain under control.

Not Draining Water

Each sump pump will be attached to a drain line. This is where the water is pumped from the pit and transported to the exterior of your home. Whenever this drain line gets clogged full of debris or freezes up, it can prevent the sump pump from pumping water out of your house.

If your sump pump is running but no water is being discharged, assess the water line. You’ll want to check for any debris that could be restricting the flow of water. In some cases, you may need to disconnect the drain line from your sump pump to gain access to the problem area. To avoid having to dig up your foundation or parts of your yard, work with a professional plumber to assess the most effective and least intrusive way to ensure your drain lines are clear and functioning well.

Pump Won’t Run

When your sump pump won’t turn on, it could be due to a number of factors. Check to see if your circuit breaker is tripped. If so, reset the breaker and see if the pump turns back on. You’ll also want to check the cord on your sump pump to ensure that it’s properly plugged in.

In some cases, your sump pump may be clogged full of debris that’s keeping it from pumping water. Some newer sump pumps will have a built-in sensor that will turn off the pump in the event that it senses that it’s overheating. When your pump is clogged, it will continue to run until this sensor shuts it off. Simply cleaning out your sump pump lines can be the quick solution to getting your pump back up and running.

If you’ve cleaned out your lines and it hasn’t solved the problem, it could be that your sump pump motor has failed. This is common on older sump pumps that don’t have a built-in overheating sensor. They’ll run continuously until the motor simply burns up.

It’s important to note that sump pumps are powered by electricity. In the event that you experience a power outage, your sump pump simply won’t work. This can be a real problem if you experience flooding at the same time. Fortunately, there are new battery backups for sump pumps that can be installed. These are often smaller pumps that run on battery power. They’re often in a higher position in your sump well, so they only work when your primary sump doesn’t control the water level.

Continuously Running Pump

In some cases, your sump pump may seem like it’s constantly running even though there’s no water coming into your basement. This can be due to a few different causes. First, the float switch may be stuck or broken. The float switch is the sensor on your sump pump that lets it know when water levels get high enough that it needs to turn on the pump. This float can get stuck due to debris buildup and other reasons.

The second reason that your sump pump could be running continuously is that its check valve is broken. Each sump pump’s discharge line will run from the lower point of the pump upward to the exterior of your home, and then downward to your discharge site. This looks like an upward curve that’s necessary to transport the water from your low basement level to the outdoors.

Since water likes to flow to the lowest area possible, there has to be a check valve installed on your sump pump to prevent water from backflowing into your pit. Think of the water being forced from the sump pump in an upward direction to the exit point of your house that sits above ground level. If the check valve is broken, then the water in your drainage pipe will simply flow back down to the sump pump.

Constantly Clogged Drain Lines

If you notice that you’re unclogging your sump pump’s drainage line on a consistent basis, then you likely have a bigger issue. Sump pumps that are installed in a dirt or gravel basin are highly likely to cause consistent clogs in your pump. If this is the case for your home, consider upgrading your sump pump basin to a plastic or fiberglass one. Additionally, consider investing in a cover for the top that will stop nasty debris from entering your sump pump basin to being with.

Stinky Sump Pit

Mostly common in the hot, dry summer months, your sump pump can start to emit a nasty sewer-like smell. This is typically the result of water in the drain trap drying up. Just like the P-trap underneath your bathroom sink works to prevent unwanted sewer odors from coming back up your piping, the same holds true for your sump pump drain line. Pour a little bit of water into the pipe to help create that necessary water seal to prevent unwanted sewage gas.

Getting Repair Assistance

Whenever you notice an issue with your sump pump, it’s necessary that you get help quickly. The longer your sump pump goes without running, the more likely your basement is to become flooded. While there are some simple things you can try on your own, like clearing out your drain line, it’s typically best to call in the professionals. They’ll be able to assess the problem as quickly as possible and get your pump back up and running.

Call for Professional Repair Service Today

Southport Home Services offers top-quality sump pump repair service for the entire Madison, WI area. Our knowledgeable plumbing professionals can also assist with all of your heating, cooling, commercial, indoor air quality, and plumbing needs. Simply contact our friendly staff today to get your repair appointment scheduled.

Meet the Author
Thomas Suchla
Thomas Suchla


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