Should A Sump Pump Run Constantly?

A sump pump keeps out unwanted water that causes damage to your basement. However, you might be worried that the device will wear out after uninterrupted use, making you doubt if a sump pump should really run nonstop. Worry no more! We've done the research to provide you with the answer.

Your sump pump should not stop running when your house is too close to a water table or your area experiences heavy rainfall. But if the sump pump continues working without water in the pit, it will overheat and malfunction.

The sump pump will work for long hours without any electrical or mechanical failures. You also need to learn how to keep the good condition of a sump pump. A well-maintained sump pump will keep running to prevent a flooded basement. Read along to discover more about sump pumps.

A sump pump used in draining the water in the basement, Should A Sump Pump Run Constantly?

Is It Okay If A Sump Pump Won't Turn Off?

A constantly running sump pump is vital to prevent water damage in the basement. The pump will work for long as there is water in the pit. The water level reaches a point to activate the sump pump's float switch. Water on the ground can come from heavy rainfall, snowmelt, or a high water table.

A sump pump in the basement floor drain

The motor type of the sump pump can make it run constantly. The two motor types for sump pumps are as follows:

  • Intermittent-duty - The sump pump works as needed but will stop to take some breaks. Having some intervals can help prolong the life of the motor.
  • Continuous-duty - As the name suggests, the motor will run without stopping for long hours. It can even work up to 24 hours if too much water is inside the basement. Unlike intermittent-duty, this motor will not last long.

Other than the type of motor, here are some causes why a sump pump won't stop:

  • Clogged or frozen discharge pipe
  • Inadequate power source
  • Jammed check valve due to debris
  • Periodic heavy rainfall
  • Underground leaks in the plumbing connections
  • Using a small sump pump and pit for a large basement
  • Worn check valve

Even if the sump pump keeps the water out of the basement, the device will wear out quickly. If the device always works without water in the pit, it will break down. Without a sump pump, your basement is at risk of flooding.

Why Is My Sump Pump Short Cycling?

When you notice that the sump pump turns on and off on its own, the device might be short cycling. The pump's float switch can tangle with the power cord or get stuck on the pump wall. It cannot shut off when the cycle is complete.

The problem starts when the amount of water coming into the system is inconsistent. Whenever there is heavy rainfall in a short period, the pump might not sustain the rising water level. The pump cannot turn on or off when needed with a short cycle. In effect, the basement gets flooded.

Aside from the float switch, the problem can be due to these reasons:

  • A broken check valve reactivated the float valve and the pump.
  • The size of the sump pump liner does not fit well.
  • There is a clogged sump pit because it is full of dirt and debris.
  • The high water table constantly brings water into the sump pit.

If these issues persist, it can wear out the sump pump. The quicker it turns off and on, the more energy it needs. You might pay more for the power bills for basements with electrical sump pumps.

The solution is to replace the float switch. You can buy it from the sump pump manufacturer and ask a plumber to install it for you.

Should There Be Water In The Sump Pit?

It is normal to have water in your sump pit. Water accumulated from rain, snow, and water seepage triggers the float switch. There can also be water left after a previous pumping cycle. If there is no recent rain or flooding, but the pit has water, the culprit can be a broken pipe, a drainage issue, or a high water table.

A sump pump used in draining water inside the basement floor drain

Aside from these reasons, the home plumbing system can fill water in the sump pit. A faulty sprinkler system or water line can saturate the foundation and allow water intrusion on the ground.

If you leave a sump pit dry, it can cause premature wearing of the rubber parts.

To avoid too much water in the sump pit, you can follow the tips below:

  • Check sump pump discharge hose and fittings
  • Tighten the faulty clamp
  • Unclog the sump pit
  • Reset the sump pump
  • Sump pump replacement

How Much Water Does A Sump Pump Use?

There is a formula to calculate the water level required for a sump pump.

For example, a sump pit receives 10" of water in a minute or equal to 10 gallons. Then multiply the gallons to 60, which is the number of minutes in an hour. Next, multiply the value by 1.50. You get 900 gallons per hour capacity needed.

If you have a water-powered sump pump, the formula is slightly different. According to Water Commander, you will need a gallon of city water to pump out 2 gallons per cycle from the sump pump. That means you remove a total of 3 gallons of water from the basement.

To get the total gallons removed in an hour, multiply the gallons per cycle by 60. If you use 3 gallons of water per cycle, you will consume 180 gallons in an hour.

Is It Normal To Hear Water Running In Sump Pump?

You might hear gurgling or dripping sounds from the sump pump when discharging water. Even if it is annoying, the noise you hear is normal.

A basement floor drain with a sump pump in the it used in draining the water

If you want to have a peaceful stay in the basement, you can replace your standard pump with a silent spring-powered valve. After installing, adjust the automatic turnoff level of the sump pump basin. By doing so, you can retain some water in the basin.

Here are other noises you can hear from a sump pump:

  • Banging - You will need to fasten the discharge pipe with a 12-gauge wire. You should also check if pipe brackets attach firmly to the floor joists.
  • Clanging - This noise comes from heavy vibrations. You can dampen the sound by adding rubber grommets under the pump lid or wrapping the pipe with insulation.
  • Humming - If the noise is too loud, you might have a stuck check valve, broken impeller, or frozen discharge pipe.
  • Grinding - When you hear this noise, you must take immediate action. There can be a jammed impeller that a plumbing professional can fix.

How Do You Reset A Sump Pump?

Resetting can fix the problems you encounter with the sump pump. Before you proceed, make sure that you are wearing personal protective equipment. If your sump pump has a "quick reset" button, you can press this to solve the issue without removing the pump out.

But if the sump pump does not have the feature, follow the resetting process below:

  1. Turn off the power source of the sump pump. It is best to shut off the power from the breaker before disconnecting the power cord.
  2. Carefully disconnect drainage pipes without bending them.
  3. Remove the pump from the basin. Let the sump pump set on a tarp to avoid the mess.
  4. Clean and remove dirt and debris accumulated in the sump pit.
  5. Check if there are is no clogging in the discharge pipes and drain lines.
  6. Then, reattach the parts of the sump pump system. You can also refer to the device manual as your guide.

There are instances that you should not reset the sump pump. If you see that the device makes unbearable noises, or has clogging in the pit, let the device remain shut off. You have to unclog and clean the sump pit before a reset.

If you see smoke from the device, check for exposed wires. After locating the wires, wrap these with electrical tape. You can reset the device when there is a flood, but it might not start with damaged wires.

You should ask professional help to fix more complicated issues and avoid electrocution.

In Closing

A sump pump used in draining the water in the basement

A sump pump should constantly work to remove water in the basement. The device won't stop due to its motor type or water level in the area. Other reasons for a continuous operation include a faulty check valve, clogged pipes, or a stuck float switch. Yet, uninterrupted sump pump use causes problems in the long run.

You should do regular maintenance to keep the device working. Clogs in the pipes and basin can cause the system to fail. One thing you can do is reset the sump pump to fix issues. With a working sump pump, you can reduce water damage in your basement.

Read more about basements from these posts:

Can I Drain Basement Dehumidifier To Sump Pump [And How To]

Water Leaking Into The Basement After Heavy Rain – What To Do?

One comment

  1. The water table is high here and I am looking for a sump pump with a continuous motor; price is not important as long as the pump can – practically – run continuously. Which pump should I get?
    Thank you.

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