When your sump pump stops working, panic may set in. No one wants a flooded basement. Before you call a repair technician, and spend money you may not need to, you could conduct some basic tests to find the problem yourself. This article is going to guide you through some easy steps for diagnosing and resolving sump pump issues. Over time, your sump is bound to experience a malfunction. In many cases, this might not be too serious. You could, quite easily, be able to sort it out without too much hassle.
Remember to work safely. Electricity and water pose an obvious danger. So, before I begin with the basic steps in resolving sump pump issues, I should remind you to switch the pump off and unplug the power before you remove it from the sump drain.
A logical and orderly approach will save you time and hassle when trying to figure out why your sump pump is not working. Follow these steps, and you can’t go wrong.
Check the Power Supply
All too often, we may overlook the obvious. We fear the worst and forget to check the basic, most common issues. Electrical equipment needs electricity. I know, I’m pointing out the obvious here, but you’ll be surprised how many people forget to start with this basic step.
Start by unplugging your sump pump and plug an appliance, that you know to be working, into the outlet. If your are sure there is power at the outlet, you’ve eliminated the first possible cause. An electrical socket may be faulty, or the breaker may have tripped.
Next, check the plug fitted to your pump. It could be damaged, or wires may be loose. Check the cord connected to the pump.
Faulty Float Switch
The float switch controls the pump, switching on when the drain is full and switching off before the drain is completely dry. Float switches can become entangled with debris, causing them to become stuck in either the on or off position. It is easy to visually inspect the float switch and remove anything that is obstructing the free movement of the float.
If all looks fine, you should test the switch. With the pump plugged in, move the float to the top position, the pump should switch on. When you move the float to the bottom position, the pump should switch off.
The pump inlet or discharge can become blocked. Most sump pumps have a filter mesh at the bottom of the pump to prevent debris from entering it and causing harm. Check and clean the mesh. Check the impeller to ensure nothing is obstructing it.
The discharge could also become clogged with debris or ice in winter. You can check the discharge by connecting a hosepipe to the discharge pipe, where it usually connects to the pump. You should see water flowing out of the pipe.
Faulty Check Valve
The check valve allows water to flow only in one direction. This means that water pumped out of the pit will flow, but water running back into the pit will be stopped.
To test the check valve, start by removing it. You’ll see an arrow on the valve casing. This indicates the flow direction. The arrow should be pointing away from the pump, as this is the direction we want the water to flow.
If you blow into the valve, in the same direction as the arrow, you should feel an unrestricted flow of air coming out the opposite side. If no air flows in the direction of the arrow, the check valve ie either blocked or damaged.
If you blow in the opposite direction, against the arrow, you should feel no air coming out the opposite side. If you do feel a movement of air, it means that water is flowing back into the drain and this may cause the pump to run continuously.
Before replacing the check valve, clean it thoroughly with warm water and soap. Often debris inside the valve is the reason it is not functioning properly.