How Do I Know When My Sump Pump Fails?

A sump pump is a vital component that provides an effective way to drain water from your house and keep your basement dry. Since it is your primary defense against a basement flood, you don’t want to deal with a failed sump pump. If you suspect something is wrong with your sump pump, Seek help immediately! Get in touch with a sump pump service contractor in your area. Waiting is not worth the potential risk to your home. 

But how do you know if your sump pump is failing? The team at Gallegos Plumbing is here to help keep your basement dry. Read on for more information on the sump pump causes and how you can permanently get rid of wet, leaky basements and avoid basement flooding due to sump pump failure in your home.

sump pump

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a submersible pump installed at the lowest point of your house to protect your basement or other ground or below-ground level floor against flood and water damage. 

Sump pumps are typically placed in a constructed pit at the lowest point of your house. When the water rises to a certain level in your sump pump pit, it automatically triggers your sump pump’s float switch, which turns on and starts moving water from your basement to the outside of your home.

Causes of Sump Pump Failure

Sump pump failure is a common issue, especially if you neglect maintenance. In most cases, sump pump failure results from one of the issues listed below:

  1. Lack of Maintenance

If your sump pump has suddenly stopped working, it probably just needs a good cleaning and some maintenance. Consider getting a sump pump expert to perform regular preventative maintenance on your sump pump to avoid problems and increase its lifespan.

  1. Overwhelmed Pump

Overloading your sump pump could lead to motor burnout, where your pump overheats and shuts off. Overworking your sump pump is the leading cause of motor burnout, but it could also result from installing a poor quality or an undersized pump.

  1. Stuck Switch 

A stuck switch is the most common mechanical problem that leads to failed sump pumps. This usually happens when your sump pump shifts inside the pit, lodging the float that operates the switch against the side of the pump. 

  1. Power Outage

Since sump pumps depend on your home for power, an electrical power outage may render your sump pump useless. Since most power outages result from bad weather or storms, when you need your sump pump the most, you should consider investing in a backup generator

  1. Failure Due to Old Age

Like other home appliances, your sump pump won’t last forever. If your sump pump is approaching the ten-year mark, start considering sump pump replacement before you suffer from a failed sump pump.

  1. Improper Sump Pump Installation

Proper installation is vital if you want to avoid a failed sump pump. You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions during installation, and if in doubt, contact a sump pump specialist.

  1. Discharge Pipe

A clogged discharge pipe is a common cause of sump pump failures. If your sump pump’s discharge pipe clogs up, the water will flow back into your basement, flooding your home.

  1. Setting Your Sump Pump in Gravel or Dirt

Did you complete a DIY sump pump installation, and your pump won’t work? Ensure that your sump pit is clear of gravel and dirt that can cause the float switch to jam.

So there you have it! Now that you know the common sump pump problems, you can identify problems early enough and call a plumber before it escalates into a severe issue. 

How to Troubleshoot Your Sump Pump

While several issues could lead to a failed sump pump, it isn’t hard to identify the root cause if you follow our step-by-step troubleshooting guide.

  1. Make Sure the Sump Pump Has Power 

Start by ensuring that there is power going to the sump pump.

  1. Check for a Clogged Impeller or Intake Screen 

If your sump’s motor is running but not pumping out water, check if debris has clogged the impeller or intake screen.

  1. Check if the Floating Switch is Jammed 

Ensure that the sump pit has nothing that may cause the float switch to jam.

  1. Check the Discharge Line 

Ensure that your pump’s discharge outlet is open and debris-free to prevent sump pump failure.

  1. Weep Hole 

If you recently replaced a sump pump and it won’t work, ensure there is a small vent hole between the sump pump and the check valve along your discharge pipe.

  1. Tripped Breaker or GFCI Outlet

If you’ve connected your electric sump pump to a GFCI outlet, it can trip and disable the outlet until you reset it.

  1. Examine the Check Valve 

Your sump pump’s check valve prevents discharged water from flowing back into the basement. If your check valve is broken, the water will flow back into your basement, making your pump run non-stop.

  1. Ensure that the Sump Pump is Adequate for Your Needs

Your sump pump may simply be unable to handle the amount of water pouring into the sump pit. Your basement might also be getting too much water that it overwhelms your sump pump. In this case, you might have to install additional sump pumps in your basement.

  1. Inspect Your Foundation Drains 

Ensure that your foundation drainage system can effectively collect ground water and divert it to your sump pit.

Caution: Do not enter a wet basement until you have disconnected the power because that could lead to an electric shock.

Protect Your Home from Flooding

Proper maintenance of your sump pump is vital to preventing your home and basement from flooding. If you need sewer pump installation, repair, and maintenance services in Ventura County, our dedicated team of Ventura sump pump experts at Gallegos Plumbing is ready to assist you! Let us help keep your home dry and safe from water damage.

We install and service all types of sump pumps, including:

  • Submersible sump pumps
  • Basement sump pumps
  • Sewage ejector pumps
  • Backup and battery-operated sump pumps
  • Battery backup sump and ejector pumps
Julie Higgins
Julie is a Staff Writer at She has been working in publishing houses before joining the editorial team at momooze. Julie's love and passion are topics around beauty, lifestyle, hair and nails.