When you use something every day, you tend to notice when it’s time for a replacement. Unlike some home items — the microwave you use several times per day, the Keurig that keeps you caffeinated, the air conditioner that’s keeping temperatures bearable in the depths of a California summer — your sump pump is out of sight and, all too often, out of mind. Well, at least ’til you need it to work and it doesn’t. So how do you know when it’s time to call Ace Plumbing for sump pump replacement?
Given that most sump pumps we encounter were installed when the home was built — decades ago, in many cases — you might be surprised to learn that they’re not really rated to last that long. On average, you should replace your sump pump every ten years or so.
Ever wondered how a sump pump works? One of the most important parts is a float switch that’s not much different than the float in your toilet tank. When it’s working properly, rising water levels raise the float switch and engage the pump. Sometimes, however, the pump starts running and keeps right on going because the switch is jammed — much the same as a faulty float in a toilet causes the water to run continuously. If you find this happening often, you may need to replace the switch, but if it’s an older pump, a full replacement may be your better bet. However, don’t neglect this repair, because a pump that runs dry for too long can overheat and cause a fire.
When your sump pump runs, the electric motor will have a characteristic humming sound, and you’re likely to hear a noise like running water. Those sounds aren’t cause for alarm. But if the motor runs much louder than usual, or if you’re hearing noises like grinding or gurgling, that’s a sign that repairs are needed.
Full Basin After Pump Runs
If you hear the motor running but the water level in the sump basin doesn’t seem to budge, it’s not your imagination. Basements and crawl spaces can be dusty, dirty places, and when water drains to the sump basin, some of that debris comes with it. That’s why sump pumps have a filter screen to keep that debris out. When the screen clogs, the pump won’t drain properly.
Sometimes the sump pump seems to work fine, pumping out the basin, only to reactivate a short time later. Sump pumps have a check valve that’s designed to prevent backflow, and if it’s broken or defective, the water that’s pumped out can end up right back in the sump.
Of course, your sump pump isn’t always the cause of your problems. A sump pump needs to be the right size for the space it’s keeping dry, but if there’s too much water coming in — sometimes due to flooding, sometimes because of foundation damage — even a brand-new pump can’t always keep up. If you’re noticing a higher volume of water than usual, it’s a good idea to have a contractor inspect your foundation. If, on the other hand, your problem stems from a broken or aged sump pump, get in touch with Ace Plumbing!