Sump Pump Failures and How to Avoid Them

May 1


Jacques Bouchard

Jacques Bouchard

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If your sump pump fails, you're in for a disaster in your basement. This article outlines common reasons that sump pumps fail and what you can do about them.

Every time a major rainfall hits an area,Sump Pump Failures and How to Avoid Them Articles countless tales of woe are heard from homeowners who have gambled with a low-quality sump pump installation in their basement. During the worst storms, plumbers can work around the clock to pump water from basements and crawl spaces. Homeowners pay whatever it takes to help minimize the already extensive damage dealt to their home and personal possessions. Despite this these stories, sump pumps are better and more reliable than they’ve ever been. But not all sump pumps are created equal, and the low-quality systems that were unreliable years ago are still available and still unreliable today. Most common failures can be narrowed down to three major causes.

Power Outages

If you have a sump pump installed and the power goes out, you may no longer have a working system. This is true for the major power outages common in large rain storms, when a fuse blows, or even when it accidentally comes unplugged. If you’re counting on a generator to back up your sump pump when it loses power, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Will I always be home during a power outage to start the generator?
  2. How will I know if the sump pump simply came unplugged? (Generally, you’ll know when the basement floods.)
  3. Will my generator have enough power to keep it running until the power comes back on?
Unless you have a good answer to all three of these, consider adding a battery backup sump pump system to your basement waterproofing solution. A good battery backup system should be able to pump at least 7,000 gallons of water out of your basement on a single charge and is set to turn on automatically if the main pump loses power for any reason.

Sump Pump Failure

If you have either a plastic sump pump installed in your basement, a do-it-yourself kit, or an inexpensive one installed by a plumber, it’s a matter of time before it fails. Plastic pumps often fail due to mechanical failure, but any sump pump installed directly in a sump pit without a strong, well-built sump liner and a stand will eventually clog the pump due to dirt and debris from the pit that gets in.

If you install a backup sump pump, you can feel confident that when there’s mechanical failure or the sump pump clogs, you have a second pump to keep the basement dry. Considering the cost of pumping a basement out and the damaged personal possessions you have when a failure and the basement leaks, this is a small investment. Even a battery backup can offer temporary relief from a pump failure until a new primary sump pump can be installed or the existing one is repaired.

Sump Pumps Overwhelmed

In a torrential downpour, your system may be overwhelmed with heavy volumes of foundation water. In these cases, a single pump can be overwhelmed and the basement can flood. Keep your basement protected by installing a reliable backup. In the case of overwhelming rain, both pumps can work to protect your home and keep the basement dry. If you also have a battery backup, it can turn on if one pump fails, and it’ll be there to pick up the slack if even both are overwhelmed.

Basement Systems provides a system that uses only cast-iron Zoeller sump pumps. Our TripleSafe system uses a 1/3 horsepower primary pump and 1/2hp backup pump. Combined with our battery backup that’s able to pump out 11,000 gallons of water on a single charge, our systems are installed in a heavy duty airtight liner. Each liner includes a special ball and cup design that enables it to quickly drain leaks in the case of a plumbing failure in the house. Our WaterWatch alarm will let you know if a sump pump has failed before the basement floods by sounding off before the basement floods so you have time to respond. Our estimates and consultations are free: we’d love to meet with you!