Common Sump Pump Issues

Sump pumps, one of our best selling items, need pretty regular maintenance. In our eyes, since your loyal and trusty sump pump takes care of your home and property and saves you money annually in avoided flood repairs, you can cut it some slack on some of its possible issues.

How They Work

Just as a recap, and to ensure we all have an understanding of how these nifty mechanisms work, we’ll go over the anatomy and function of the sump pump once more. There will be a hole put into the lowest part of your basement or the crawlspace. Your sump pump will be placed here to filter out water. As this hole where your pump resides fills up, your pump turns on to pump this water away from your home through pipes often leading to a storm drain so it does not damage your home’s foundation.

Your sump pump is powered by your main household current, or through one of your electrical outlets, which means it’ll typically have to have a circuit interpreter to ensure you don’t have any electrocution to worry about. Some are equipped with a backup battery that will turn on if the electricity goes out during something like a rainstorm when your sump pump definitely needs to be in working order to prevent damages to your home’s foundation.

Residential pumps will turn on when a sensor is activated. Oftentimes it’ll be a pressure sensor. The pressure sensor feels the water filling up because water puts much more pressure on surrounding surfaces, at which point it turns your pump on to start pushing the water out. Occasionally, the sump pump may be equipped with a float activator that works like a toilet tank, with a ball that floats on top of the water and brings the arm up as the water level rises which will, in turn, zap your sump pump into gear.

These switches will activate your motor which will turn the impellor, essentially a fan that turns the water. With centrifugal force the water is forced to the sides of the pipe and creates a low point where the water will flood too. The spinning action will push it through the pipe and away from your home.

With all of these parts constantly at work makes this little home necessity a fairly high maintenance component. Your sump pump is occasionally going to break down because of this and it’ll generally be for one of the following reasons:

It’s the Wrong Size

You’d think this wouldn’t happen so much, but surprise, surprise—human error leads to mechanical error. If your pump is the wrong size or installed incorrectly, there will be issues with how well it works. Rather than be sorry, just go for the smaller pump. Just because it’s not as big as another pump does not mean it’s not going to work as efficiently. Actually, when your pump is too big, it’ll have to work harder to do the minimum causing it to wear out much faster than it would if it were the proper size. If you go too small it’ll probably have issues pumping out the water. When in doubt, turn to a professional, they’ll be able to advise you on what size you’re going to need.

Clogged or Potentially Frozen Lines

Sometimes that discharge line that’s doing a fair amount of heavy lifting pulling that water away from your foundation will freeze and/or get clogged with dirt and sticks and who knows what else. To prevent this, start by protecting the entrance to your discharge pipe so animals and anything else can’t sneak in and throw off the entire system. Many recommend grating the entrance to the original pipe as well as adding another pipe close to your house to allow the water to exit much quicker and lessen the chance of it freezing in the pipe.


Not following installation procedure is going to be a major downfall. Because these are such simple, yet precise machines, it’ll need to be done exactly right to make sure it accomplishes its goal. If you follow the manufacturer's instructions, you should be all set to avoid considerable flood damage. You’ll find a lot of manufacturers require a check valve to be installed with the discharge line which will only help you in the long run. If this isn't installed there can be a back flow of water that will turn the impellor backward and unscrew the motor shaft. If this happens you’ll still hear the pump and think it’s going, but it won’t be pumping any water out for you.

Be careful that your sump pump is not set in dirt or gravel because this will cause various debris to enter into your pump and disrupt the equilibrium of the machine’s workings.

You also might consider cutting a small discharge hole in the discharge line between the check valve and pump. This is so you can prevent your pump from having to deal with the air pressure from the discharge pipe.

Electrical Failure

Since sump pumps are powered by your electricity, your power going out is going to derail the process. If this causes your pump to mechanically fail, that backup battery will not be able to do much for you, unfortunately. Because of some of the sump pumps potential fragility to some situations, it’s a good idea to purchase a service entrance surge protection device which will protect your components from suffering any damage from any power surges.

Be sure to avoid all of these pitfalls and buy the specific equipment to protect this handy machine from any failures. Next time on Fura International’s blog, we’ll be chatting about the general maintenance that will keep both your sewage pump and sump pump up to date and ready to keep ticking when you need them most.

Ready to purchase a new sump pump, motor, basin, or sewage pump? Use Fura International as your one stop shop to buy your quality home maintenance products. We’re happy to answer any questions you have in regard to our products, please visit us here to contact us.