Top 6 Sump Pump Problems (And How to Fix Each One)

You don’t worry about dealing with flooded basement cleanup because you’re protected with solid equipment. That little appliance in the basement floor is ready to power on and keep the downstairs from filling up like an indoor pool. Everything works like is should until the worst happens.

What do you do when a good sump pump goes bad?

We help residents and business owners with flooded basement cleanup all across Chicago, so we understand your frustration. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the 6 most common sump pump problems and their solutions.

Top 6 Sump Pump Problems

1. The Pump Quits Working When the Lights Go Out

You can’t control an outage, but some pumps don’t work without electricity. Add heavy rain flooding into the basement, and you’re facing serious water damage. Avoid this soggy scenario by investing in a backup strategy.

The most popular backup sump pumps run off batteries. These models operate for hours, and some feature alarms that signal when the battery needs replacing. Hybrid units combine the same battery design with your existing pump, and other backup systems run off your home’s water pressure.

2. The Power’s On and the Pump Still Doesn’t Work

The sump pump isn’t complicated, but its moving parts depend on each other for proper operation. Make sure that the pump is secure and not tilted in its basin. It should be firmly seated for optimum performance.

If debris blocks the float from rising, it can’t switch on the motor. Often, simply cleaning the float and its components solves this problem. If you’re thinking about upgrading, consider a model that features a caged float switch.

3. The Pump Runs but It’s Starting to Slow Down

Remember that there’s more to the system than the pump in your basement floor. Water moves through its discharge pipes, but these lines can clog over time with debris from the basement and leaves and grass clippings around its terminal opening. Our Chicago winters can freeze these pipes too.

Install a small grate over the pipe’s terminal opening, and don’t let debris build up inside the pump’s basin. Talk with your plumbing specialist about installing an extra line that can handle water when the discharge pipe freezes.

4. It Can’t Keep Up With Large Amounts of Water

If the sump pump can’t handle volume, you’re not positioned to weather the storms that can blow through Chicago when our rainy season sets in. Even water from a broken washing machine overwhelms a pump that can’t keep up.

Consider upgrading to a unit with more horsepower. Size matters with these appliances, but muscle counts too. It’s not always obvious how much horsepower runs your pump, so check its specs on the manufacturer’s website. Ideally, you want a model with a rating of 1/6 to 1/3 hp.

5. It’s Not Getting the Attention It Needs

It’s easy for a sump pump to slip off the home maintenance radar, so put a reminder on your digital calendar. Check it when the forecast predicts heavy rain, but keep up the good work by testing your pump several times a year.

Make pump housecleaning a part of your routine too. After you’ve confirmed its mechanical health, treat it to several cups of white vinegar. This helps reduce buildup and discourages mold and algae growth in the discharge line.

6. It Just Doesn’t Work as Well as It Used To

replacing old pump

Everything has a life expectancy. If your sump pump seems to be working too hard, it may be approaching its 10th birthday. Even after seven years, most models slow down.

Often, you’ll save money in the long run by investing in a new pump that operates more efficiently. Low amperage pumps run much cooler than older models, and that extends mechanical life. Unless you’re an accomplished DIY warrior, leave the installation to a trusted plumbing professional.

We’re Ready to Help

flooded basement expert help

If you have any tips about solving sump pump problems and heading off flooded basement cleanup, let us know through our Comments Section. We’re all about sharing information and helping each other through our online community here and out in the field too.

We know from experiences in our own homes that sump pumps make a huge difference when we’re facing a water disaster. If your good sump pump goes bad and leaves you standing knee-deep in a soggy mess, call us here at ServiceMaster Restoration by Zaba.

We’re ready to help with emergency flooded basement cleanup anywhere in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs.