Help! My Sump Pump Isn’t Working & the Basement Is Flooding!

By: Diana Rodriguez-Zaba
Updated on: July 14, 2023

Two things that every homeowner dreads usually happen at the same time:

A broken sump pump and a flooded basement.

One is bad enough, but when these problems collide, you’re looking at extensive water damage.

Why isn’t the sump pump working? What can you do about the flooded basement right now? How do you prevent this disaster from happening again?

Our teams here at ServiceMaster by Zaba help restore Chicago basements that have flooded and we’re ready to help with actionable answers to all three questions.

Let’s dive in, and start with the basics.

What Is a Sump Pump?

basement sump pump

Think of your sump pump as a type of water mitigation system.

When it works properly, the sturdy appliance prevents basement flooding. Its components automatically react to both rising water levels and water pressure. For example:

Why Did My Sump Pump Fail?

sump pump

When a bad sump pump causes flooding in the basement, you want to know why it happened.

Fortunately, you can fix many sump pump problems yourself. However, there are situations that don’t have easy DIY solutions.

  • Old Equipment – Over time, damaged motors, floats, and impellers give in to mechanical failure. If the pump is 10 years old, it probably needs to be replaced.
  • Extreme Weather – Torrential rains and heavy snowmelts result in excessive groundwater accumulation and basement flooding. The combination can overwhelm and shut down your pump.
  • Sump Well Damage – The pump basin beneath your basement floor is usually made of durable fiberglass or heavy-duty plastic. Cracks inside the well lead to multiple sump pump problems.
  • Bad Drain Location – If the pump discharges excess water too close to your home’s foundation, the drain backs up, leaving condensation on basement walls and water on the floor.
  • Overloaded Circuits – Too many appliances sharing one circuit create dangerous overloads. A basement washer, dryer and refrigerator on the same circuit as the pump may result in power shutdowns.

My Sump Pump Failed and the Basement Is Flooding – What Now?

sump pump failed basement is flooding

Basement flooding is frustrating and potentially hazardous. Be ready to take a safe approach to the situation by following these seven steps.

1. Turn Off the Electricity

Immediately turn off your home’s electricity at the breaker box, but only if you can access the panel while standing on dry ground or a dry floor.

If you’re not comfortable with this step, call a licensed electrician, or contact the City for assistance (if you’re in the Chicago area, click here to be redirected to the city’s assistance page.)

2. Always Stay Safe

Prioritize personal safety over everything else. If you have any second thoughts about going downstairs, don’t do it.

Even a few inches of water on the basement floor creates a dangerous environment.

3. Move What You Can

Once you feel safe going into the basement, try to move salvageable belongings and furnishings upstairs.

Our teams can often clean and restore contents and personal items damaged by water in a flooded basement.

4. Be Careful With Standing Water

If you’re dealing with less than 2 inches of water, you may be able to take care of it by renting a wet vac or submersible pump.

However, keep in mind that both require access to a safe power supply.

5. Start Drying and Cleaning

A flooded basement can take several weeks to completely dry. Speed things up by running fans and a large dehumidifier 24/7. Avoid more water on the floor by regularly checking the dehumidifier’s collection basin.

Scrub non-porous surfaces with a diluted bleach solution, clean porous surfaces with appropriate products, and keep an eye out for any signs of mold growth.

6. Let Flood Damage Restoration Pros Do the Work

It’s best to know now who to call when your sump pump isn’t working and the basement is flooding.

Professionals provide emergency water extraction and structural drying. They take care of interior cleaning and sanitizing, as well mold removal and remediation.

7. Repair the Sump Pump

This final step addresses the problem that allowed the flooding downstairs. If you aren’t sure about DIY sump pump repairs or installing a replacement, call a licensed plumber.

How to Prevent Sump Pump Failures

  • Make sure runoff from the sump pump is diverted at least 10 feet away from your home’s foundation. This reduces the chance of drain backups.
  • Routinely check and clean the sump pump well, impeller filter and drain guards. Confirm motor operation by lifting the pump cover and pulling up the float.
  • Ask a licensed electrician to inspect the pump. Explain that you want to avoid overloads by wiring a circuit on the breaker panel dedicated to just the sump pump.
  • Consider installing a battery-powered backup pump. It doesn’t replace your basement’s sump pump, but it does keep the system running during power outages.
  • Upgrade the sump pump with a newer model that can handle heavier loads, especially if the old pump has been in service for 10 or more years.

Do You Need Flooded Basement Cleanup in Chicago, IL? We’re Ready for Your Call!

sump pump not working in chicago

When a broken sump pump leaves you with a flooded basement in Chicago or suburbs, count on us. Our teams clean, sanitize and restore finished and unfinished basements, and we salvage contents and personal belongings too.

Let our flooded basement cleanup service take care of everything. You want the best restoration company in Chicago.

We’re here 24/7, and we’re always ready for your call: 773-647-1985.

How much does it cost to replace a sump pump?

The average cost of replacing a broken sump pump is between $300 and $700. Most homeowners pay approximately $500 for a pump replacement.

It’s important to note that installing a new sump pump system costs considerably more, averaging $1400.

Can you safely unplug a humming sump pump when the basement is flooding?

No. Don’t try to unplug a sump pump or any appliance in a flooded basement. Standing water creates hazardous conditions, including the possibility of electrocution. 

Always turn off your home’s electricity before doing any kind of work in the flooded basement.

How much does it cost to restore a flooded basement?

It depends on the extent of water damages to basement interiors and contents. Typically, the cost of cleaning and restoring a flooded basement after a sump pump failure averages between $2,000 to $7,000.