The Sump Pump Won't Pump


A failing sump pump can cause flooding and water damage if not found soon enough. Unfortunately, the first sign of the problem many people see is water in the basement. Sump pumps use a mechanical float and switch to operate an electric motor and pump to push water down a hose or pipe. Any of these components can fail, leading to a sump pump that won't pump. Any homeowner with a sump pump should know the basics of the pump's operation and a few quick things to check if the pump is not working.

Things You'll Need

  • Lamp or power tool
  • Flash light
  • Check the float. According to the website Sump Pump Info the most common problems with sump pumps can be traced to the float. Common problems are debris or other items in the sump pump pit obstructing the floats movement. Other problems include the float caught along the wall of the pump pit. This happens when the pump moves or slides in the pit from vibrations when it operates. If the float becomes obstructed when it is elevated, the pump can continue to run even when the water has been removed from the pit. This can lead to overheating, which can burn out the pump.

  • Check the electrical circuit. Sump pumps are electrically powered, and if the circuit serving the pump blows a breaker the pump will not operate. Check the outlet the pump is plugged into with a light or hand tool to make sure it is working. Check the plug and receptacle for corrosion. Sump pumps by definition are in moist environments where corrosion can take place.

  • Clear the impeller. The impeller is the portion of the pump that spins to push or move the water. If debris such as little twigs or stones gets into the pump housing it can jam the impeller. The pump may buzz but won't move water. Open the pump, if possible, according to manufacturer's instructions and remove any foreign items in the pump housing. Close the pump and plug in to see if the pump functions. Jammed impellers often are not noticed in time to save the pump from permanent damage.


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