Why Does My Sump Pump Keep Constantly Running?

A sump pump is like a friend who is rarely appreciated but comes in handy when you need them the most. Most people are unaware of how sump pumps work or how long they should run. Sump pumps are typically located in the basements or crawlspaces of homes and buildings. Their primary function is to pump excess water from the house through a drainage pipe.

One of the most common sump pump problems occurs when a sump pump starts to run continuously, which is evident in the nonstop buzzing from your basement. Although it might sound ordinary at first, after a continuous operation, it signals a problem that needs fixing in most situations.

So, if you’re wondering why your sump pump runs all the time, here are possible reasons for that how to fix it.

sump pump constantly running

Broken or Jammed Float Switch

The float is buoyant and rises or falls down the sump pit depending on the level of water. When the tank fills with water, the float moves upwards, triggering the float switch to turn on, thus draining the excess water. When the tank drains the water, the float shifts downwards, causing the float switch to go off as the water reaches the optimum level.

In moving up and down, the float switch may get stuck at the on position, or the switch might also get broken, making your sump pump system run without stopping. 

If a faulty float switch is the cause of the problem, the only solution is to replace it. Keep in mind that float switches come in different sizes depending on your sump pump model. You can buy one at a home improvement store or online for convenience. 

If the float switch is stuck at the on position, you can fix the issue yourself. You only need to open the sump pump to check whether the switch is stuck against the lining of the pump or tangled by wires, or clogged with dirt in the pump. If this is the case, untangle the switch to solve the problem. A jammed float switch is also commonly responsible for a pump running and stopping every few seconds.

Faulty Sump Pump Check Valve

A sump pump is designed such that when water reaches a certain level, it’s discharged through the discharge line from the basement floor via a drainpipe to the garden or backyard and away from the foundation. A check valve ensures the water pumped out of the sump pit doesn’t flow back again.

If the sump pump check valve is faulty, the water is pumped out the discharge pipe but flows back into the pit. The action triggers the pump to keep running in an endless cycle as it tries to expel to keep your basement floor dry.

You can also check for the fault on the check valve by filling the sump pit with water to a ½ or ¼ level. Observe whether the water flows back when the pump starts to run.

If you suspect the check valve is the cause of your sump pump running continuously, then it’s crucial to replace it. It’s normal for sump pump check valves to become worn out after years of use, so you might need to change them after a while.

Heavy Floods In The Area

Some houses are built in areas that experience heavy flooding after rainfalls. Other homes are built in areas where the water table is too close to the foundation. During the wet season, your sump pump is forced to work nonstop to keep the basement dry. Guess what this means for the pump? Wear and tear over a short period, which eventually leads to sump pump failure.

While you have no control in these cases, it could be that the pump is situated too low on the basement floor such that the water beneath the floor triggers action. You can fix the problem by elevating the pump slightly above the floor level. Otherwise, your basement pump can get damaged, causing flooding in your basement when you need it. In other cases, you can also simply get a second sump pump. Just always be sure to have a battery backup ready to go in case the first one fails. 

Leakage In The Drainage System

Another reason for this common sump pump issue is a leakage in the drainage system like the sewer line. The leakage can come from a broken sprinkler system. The leaking water can signal the sump pump to work extra hard to remove the excess water.

You need to inspect the drainage system to determine whether this is the problem with the pump. A professional plumber can help you waterproof the drainage system to prevent damage to it and your home.

Alternatively, a professional might also advise you to elevate the pump above the basement floor. When the sump pump is placed deep into the ground, it can get triggered to pump out more water than it should. 

About the author 

Ken Jenkins is a Master Plumber at Roto-Rooter Indianapolis. Passionate about all things plumbing, Ken is eager to share his knowledge of pipes and plumbing systems with the world. Ken and his fellow Roto-Rooter plumbers are available 24/7 to resolve any plumbing or drain issues. Schedule a consulting and service appointment with them.

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