Sump Pump Failure

Sump Pump Failure

Sump pumps are simple tools that protect your home’s basements from flooding. The popularity of sump pumps have grown exponentially in the past couple decades, largely in part to a legal amendment to the US Federal Clean Water Act in 1987 that requires certain homes to have a sump pump, even if they are not necessarily high-risk for floods.

The American Society of Home Inspectors actually did a study that showed more than 60% of American homes suffer from underground wetness or water damage. A properly sized and installed pump can protect you from excessive rain and unpredictable storms. However, the US Department of Housing and Development estimates the average life expectancy is about 10 years. We at Premier Restoration know that it is not a matter of IF your pump will fail– only a question of when.

How Pumps Work

A hole is dug in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace where a sump pump sits and filters out water. As the pit fills up, the pump turns on and moves the liquid out of the pit through pipes that run away from the foundation of your home into an area where it can drain, such as a municipal storm drain or a dry well. A one-way valve (check valve) keeps water from entering back into the home.

The majority of residential sump pumps will turn on automatically from a pressure sensor or float activator.  Although it is simple, since it is seldom activated, it might not work when you need it.

Why Do They Fail?

Like most emergency equipment, it is important to make sure that your sump pump is well maintained and free of mechanical problems:

Power Failure – The most common cause of failure is an electrical power outage. Bad weather storms and power failures often coincide to subvert the point of the pump. No power = no pump. Add a backup generator for maximum protection.

A Simple “Stuck” Switch – When the pump shifts inside the basin, the float that operates the switch might lodge against the side of the pump.  

Overwhelmed Pump – Choose the correct size for your situation. Too big of a sump pump results in overwork and a shortened lifespan; too small of a sump pump results in underwork and a shortened lifespan.

Clogged Discharge Pipe – The sump pump pit should not be set in dirt or gravel; debris could enter your pump. Flood water will flow back down the pipe and all over your basement.

Old Age – Years of wear and tear eventually result in the inevitable failure of your sump pump after 7 to 10 years of use. While some sump pumps can exceed well after this time period, it is recommended that you consider replacing your sump pump after 10 years to ensure maximum safety and efficiency.