Many homes have a sump pump in the basement to keep them dry when it rains and prevent flooding. However, there is a lot of confusion about how these devices work and when they should be operating. Here is a look at how often sump pumps should run in a home.
Sump Pump Basics
A sump pump is a small, submersible device that can keep basements from flooding. These pumps are placed in a small pit that is dug into the lowest part of the home. Although some have parts that function above the ground, all sump pumps have an element that will remain submersed in the pit.
When Should Sump Pumps Run?
On a typical day with dry weather conditions, your sump pump should not run at all. However, it should be on standby, which means it is ready to kick in should the home start to receive excess water.
Sump pumps have a built-in mechanism to trigger activation. Known as a float switch, it remains submerged in the pit. As the house starts to become oversaturated, water starts to build up in the pit, which will activate that float switch and prompt it to turn on the pump.
Once the pump is turned on, it will start draining water from the pit and direct it safely away from the home. Some people have their sump pump drain the water to a drain while others choose a detention pond or dry well.
A sump pump should only run when it is needed because the water in the basement has reached a certain level. Those who live in areas where it rains frequently will see their sump pump running fairly often. In some cases, it might turn on a few times per day. However, for those living in areas with less rainfall, their sump pump will be needed significantly less often.
Can Sump Pumps Run Constantly?
If you find that your sump pump is running constantly or is running even when the basement is fully dry, it is a sign that the device is malfunctioning. There are several potential causes of this, and some are relatively easy to fix. Here is a look at some of the most common reasons a sump pump might run constantly.
Common Problems With the Sump Pump
The following factors can cause your sump pump to run more frequently than necessary.
A Broken Water Main Underground
A water main underground that is broken can lead to significant problems. To test whether this could be the cause of your sump pump running too often, turn off the water main and see if the problem stops.
Negative Ground Grade
If the grade around your home’s foundation is negative, it could cause rainwater to drain toward the home rather than away from it, which increases the likelihood of flooding. In this case, it is necessary to build up the grade in order to redirect the flow of water.
Groundwater Level and Drain Tile
In some cases, the groundwater level and drain tile surrounding the home could force water to collect in the basement and cause the sump pump to run too often. Professionally sealing the basement or using waterproof paint may help correct this.
Mechanical Problems With the Sump Pump
Here is a look at some of the mechanical problems a sump pump could encounter that may cause it to run too often, even in the absence of water within the pump.
Not Enough Power
In a large home or one that places a high demand on its sump pump, a pump that is too small could be causing the problem. When this happens, investing in a more powerful pump that can keep up with the demands placed on it can provide relief.
A Broken Float Switch
Sometimes, a clog, debris, or breakage could cause the float switch to activate too frequently or become stuck in the “on” position, even after the water level has fallen. Fixing the float switch is essential to avoid energy inefficiency.
A Clogged or Frozen Discharge Line
A discharge line allows the water to exit the home, but when it is clogged or frozen, water cannot be pumped out of the house. Because the water isn’t draining, the sump pump will continue to run, so it is important to find the clog or frozen spot and address it so the pump can resume normal functioning.
A Broken Check Valve
A check valve prevents water being pumped out of a sump pump from returning back in through the pipe it is supposed to exit from. When the check valve is broken, water that was pumped out will come back in and cause it to continue running. This valve can be replaced if it is broken.
Get in Touch With the Experienced Plumbers at O’Connor Plumbing
If you believe your sump pump is not functioning properly, an experienced plumber can assess it and recommend the best course of action to ensure it performs as expected. To find out more about sump pumps and other drainage options for your basement, contact the experienced plumbers at O’Connor Plumbing for a free estimate today.