If your basement frequently floods, you may have had a sump pump installed to get rid of the excess water. However, you may have noticed that the pump is no longer working as efficiently as it should. If so, the following are some possible reasons why your basement's sump pump is not working correctly.
Debris Clogging the Discharge Line
One reason why your sump pump is not getting rid of the water could be that it is unable to expel it through the discharge line. Since the line is often open on the other end where it pumps water into your yard, a ditch, or sewer, debris such as dirt, leaves, and small branches may be blocking it.
To check to see if the line may be clogged, pull the pump's float up until it starts pumping water. If the water is pumping through the system but the water is coming back out of the discharge line, the pipe is most likely blocked by something.
Using a flashlight to illuminate the inside of the line, see if you can visualize a clog. If so, and if the clog is close to you, use either your hand or a broom handle to knock it free. However, if you do not see the blockage, you may need to have a professional clear the line for you.
Float Is out of Position
Another reason that your sump pump may not be working is that the float is out of position. Even when the basin is full of water, the pump might not be kicking on because the float is not correctly detecting the water level.
Before you start repositioning the float, lift it up to see if the pump starts. If not, the float or the motor may have failed, which would require that you replace either the part or the entire sump pump.
However, if the float does start the pump, gently pull its cord about an inch or two. Then, once the water has filled the basin, drop the float into the water. If the sump pump starts after doing this, this was the issue.
If not, play with pulling the cord up and down a few inches to see if it makes any difference. Just make sure you allow the basin to fill up before testing it, as running the pump dry can burn out the motor.
Motor Is Failing
If shifting the position of the float makes the pump run part of the time, but at other times it does not work, it is possible that the motor is starting to fail. Because it still has some function, it may be pumping out at least some of the water. However, you may find that it does not always work, even when the basin is overflowing.
Signs that your sump pump's motor is failing include a loud churning noise while it is attempting to pump. Also, on the flip side of it working only intermittently, you may discover that it never turns off. When this happens, you will likely smell a burning odor coming from the pump.
Even if the pump is working part of the time, it is in imminent danger of breaking down completely, leaving you with a potential flood in your basement the next time it rains.
If your sump pump's motor is failing, or if the pump refuses to work no matter what you do, it may be time to replace it with a new one. If you do not feel comfortable attempting this task yourself, contact a sump pump installation service to have them do the job for you.