Sump pumps usually last about seven to 10 years when they’re well maintained, though they may give out sooner under frequent use. The big problem is that sump pumps tend to fail quietly. You may not know there’s an issue until it’s too late, and your basement is flooded.
Here’s how to tell if your sump pump is working or if you need to call for repairs or replacement from the Cincinnati-area experts.
Six Signs a Sump Pump Isn’t Working
Catching a non-functional sump pump early is crucial. Here are the signs to watch for:
Sump pump running continuously. This can take the form of frequent short cycling or non-stop running. Either some part of your pump is failing, or your pump isn’t correctly sized to handle the amount of water in the pit, and you need a larger replacement.
Odd noises or vibrations. Your sump pump will normally make noise while running, usually a low hum. But if you hear unusual squeaking, grinding, squealing, rattling, or heavy vibrations, it’s a sign your pump needs professional attention. Mechanical parts may be loose, or debris may have gotten into your pump and pipes.
Clogging. Clogs make your pump work extra hard, which can cause the motor to burn out early. If your sump pump clogs frequently, have it inspected.
Visible rust. Sump pumps are made to be in the water, but their metal parts eventually rust because of this. Failing components and a type of non-toxic bacteria can both cause rust, damaging your pump and making it unreliable.
No pumping when it rains. If you don’t hear or see your pump engaging during heavy rainfall, it’s a sign that something’s gone wrong.
Standing water or basement flooding. This is the worst-case scenario: You discover the hard way that your pump doesn’t do its job. Call for emergency plumbing services as soon as you suspect your pump is broken to minimize damage as much as possible.
These issues can tell you that your pump isn’t running when it’s supposed to be. However, by the time you notice, it may already be too late. Your best option is to be proactive and test your pump before you need it.
How to Test a Sump Pump
Luckily, testing a sump pump is easy. You just need to fill the sump pit with enough water to lift the float of the pump, which should cause it to kick on. Slowly pour a five- to ten-gallon bucket of water into the pit until your pump engages. If the pump doesn’t turn on, or if it doesn’t remove water when it does, schedule professional service.
How Often Should a Sump Pump Run?
A sump pump should run only when there’s enough water in the sump pit to raise the float arm. It should run until the pit is nearly dry, then turn off.
Most areas of Cincinnati, Milford, Newton, Withamsville, and beyond are at relatively low risk of flooding, so your pump shouldn’t run except during storms. If your pump runs for a few days or regularly turns off for less than a minute before turning back on, it’s time to have a pro take a look.
How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Sump Pump?
The cost to replace your sump pump can vary, depending on what kind of pump you get and the volume of water it needs to be able to pump. A licensed plumber from Benjamin Franklin Plumbing of Cincinnati can help you choose the right sump pump based on your needs.
What to Do if Your Sump Pump Fails When You Need It Most
If you don’t catch a sump pump failure before a storm, you need to move fast to mitigate the damage. Slow or minimal flooding can be cleaned up using a mop or towels. Wring the water into a basement sink or into a bucket that you dump at least 20 feet from your home. This prevents the water from coming right back inside.
Special equipment can help make water removal easier:
Wet/dry vacuum. A vacuum of at least five gallons will help save your muscles as you clean. You won’t be able to use this if the power goes out.
Hand pump. These pumps don’t run on electricity and can be connected to your garden hose to pump water out a window. If your hose doesn’t reach 20 feet away from your house, drain it into a bucket to dump the correct distance away.
Trash-water pump. Used after serious flooding, a trash-water pump can handle large amounts of water and soft solids like mud, sand, and organic debris. These are mostly used by restoration companies like our friends at DRYmedic to correct basement flooding.
If the rain promises to be heavy, move everything you can out of the basement. Prioritize precious items like family photos and materials that are vulnerable to water, like paper, wood, or electronics. If you can, raise furniture or large electronics like the washing machine or treadmill out of the way on materials like Styrofoam, hard plastic, and scrap wood. Do not enter your basement if the water is near or covering your electrical outlets. If possible, turn off your electricity when this happens.