Your sump pump works hard to keep your basement dry – especially when snow melts in the winter and during soggy spring months. However, sometimes the appliance can work TOO hard, and you notice it running all the time, without stop. This is one of the leading causes of sump pump failure and an issue you should address right away.
What happens when the sump pump cycles too frequently?
If you hear your sump pump running, that’s a sign it’s working and pushing water out of the sump pump pit. However, if it continuously runs and not from the amount of water entering the pit, that means there’s an issue with the system.
When the sump pump constantly cycles, it can wear out the motor and decrease the system’s service life. To fix this issue, there are three areas you should inspect: the float switch, check valve, and discharge pipe.
Three common causes of constantly cycling sump pump
1. Float switch malfunction
The float switch senses when the sump pump should turn on. As the name implies, the float is a component that remains at the surface of the water, and rises as the pit fills with water. Once the float reaches a set point, it triggers the float switch to initiate the pumping sequence. Water is pulled into the submerged pump and pushed up the discharge pipe until it is released outside or into the storm drain system.
Check to ensure the float and arm are not stuck or tangled in the sump pump’s electrical cord. If the float is moving smoothly without obstruction, then the float switch may be faulty. You can purchase replacement parts at most home improvement stores or online, but it’s very important you get the correct float switch for the sump pump model. Depending on the availability, cost, or complexity of the repair, it might be smarter to replace the entire sump pump.
2. Faulty check valve
The check valve is located on the discharge pipe above the sump pump. It’s a one-way valve that prevents water from coming down the discharge pipe and back into the pit. Without a working check valve, the same water could repeatedly be going up and down the pipe, explaining your sump pump’s cycling issue.
First, inspect to make sure there is a check valve installed. Sometimes an inexperienced homeowner attempts to install a sump pump on their own and forgets this crucial part. Like most plumbing components, check valves can wear out or fail over time. Most check valves are held in place with ring clamps, so it’s not very difficult to remove and replace this part. Just be sure you have the correct side for the discharge pipe.
3. Clog in the discharge pipe
If everything appears to be working inside the pit, the next place to check is the remaining discharge pipe for a clog. It’s common for sediment to build up or for the pipe to get blocked where it discharges outside, which could trap water in the sump pump system. You can try inserting a drain snake or wire hanger into the discharge pipe to loosen up any blockages. One thing you do NOT want to do is add a liquid drain cleaner product to the pit or anywhere in the sump pump.
Sump pump service New Haven and Fairfield Counties
If something sounds off with your sump pump, it’s not worth ignoring the issue and risking a flooded basement. Instead, call Rick’s Plumbing for knowledgeable, affordable sump pump service. Schedule an appointment today at 203-874-6629.