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Sump Pump Guide The Ultimate Guide to Sump Pumps

Why Does My Sump Pump Keep Running?

A sump pump that runs continuously will wear out quickly and be more susceptible to malfunctions. It is also more likely to overheat if the pump always operates without water in the pit. If the sump pump fails, your basement is prone to flooding and extensive water damage. You should address this issue as soon as possible since it is a major cause of sump pump failure. Sometimes the appliance runs ALL THE TIME because it works TOO hard. 

Why Does My Sump Pump Keep Running?

If you hear your sump pump running, that’s a sign it’s working and pushing water out of the sump pump pit. However, if it continuously runs and not from the amount of water entering the pit, there’s an issue with the system.

When the sump pump constantly cycles, it can wear out the motor and decrease the system’s service life. There are three areas you should inspect to fix this problem: the float switch, check valve, and discharge pipe. You may have one of the following problems if you see your sump pump running continuously:

1. Defective Float Switch:

The most common cause for your sump pump to run continuously is a defective float switch. The float switch sends a signal to the controller when the water level rises above or dips below a certain point. If the sensor fails to send a signal, the controller will turn on the sump pump without any warning so that it can push more water into the pit.

How to Fix This:
  • To determine whether the sensor is faulty, start by checking the float switch circuit breaker. Also, make sure the drain plug has been removed and that no wires are touching the bottom of the sump pit. Next, remove the cover plate over the sump pit. Then, look at your wiring harness to see if anything looks damaged. Finally, examine the electrical connections on the controller using a magnifying glass. If any of those connections appear loose, they could be causing the problem.
  • A defective float switch could cause the float and arm to remain stuck after the water is released. A working float switch could still be a faulty one. When purchasing a replacement float switch, make sure it is designed for your sump pump model.

2. Defective Check Valve:

Check valves are used to prevent the backflow of liquid while the pump is operating. A malfunctioning check valve can result in a continuous cycle of the sump pump. This situation can occur if the check valve gets stuck open or closed or if the ball inside the check valve isn’t moving correctly. As soon as you find a problem with the check valve, replace it immediately because damage to the equipment can cause serious injury.

How to Fix This: 
  • The first thing you should do is make sure your system has a check valve. If it doesn’t, you’ll have to purchase and install one. Check valves can become worn out from years of use and need to be replaced. If your system has a check valve, but it still runs constantly, it might need to be replaced. Installing or replacing a check valve is easy.
  • Once the pipe over the check valve is removed with a screwdriver, you may be able to look inside the valve and remove any debris preventing it from opening. If you have experience working on sump pumps, you may be able to install a new pipe over the check valve.

3. Discharge Pipe Leakage:

A leaking pipe can also lead to your sump pump running constantly. A leaky pipe usually occurs after a flood, but it can happen due to other causes, such as tree roots that get caught up in the pipe. If you suspect a leaky pipe, try to locate where the leak is occurring. Once you do, clear the area around the pipe and reposition it, so it doesn’t interfere with any utilities.

How to Fix This: 
  • Wire hangers or drain snakes can be used to remove the clog. WARNING: Do not pour liquid drain cleaners into the sump pump to remove the clog.
  • If you see cracks in the discharge line or if water is dripping back down along the line, have it replaced by a professional.
Sump pump Keep Running

4. Insufficient Sump Pump Capacity:

if your sump pump is small enough, it might not be able to handle the increased flow rate caused by a flood. In addition to being unable to contain the extra flow, your sump pump won’t be able to provide enough suction to pull air through the hose and create a vacuum. These two factors combined would increase pressure against the check valve, which would keep the pump activated.

How to fix this:
Find out how large a sump pump you need:

Use the steps below to calculate the GPH of your sump pump. If it is higher than the GPH of the sump pump you have, you will probably need to upgrade. Only a professional plumber can offer accurate sump pump measurements. Use the steps below as a guide.

  • Measure how much water rose in your sump pump on a rainy day. Turn the pump off and wait one minute until the water recedes to the shutoff level.
  • A gallon of water equals one inch of water inside the pit. Divide the number of inches the water rose in the minute by 60. This is the volume of water that would enter your pit during an hour of steady rain.
  • The pumping capacity you would need is determined by multiplying this number by 1.5.
Look at the sump pump’s performance:
  • You should have your sump pump sized properly if the water inside the pit is not rising and falling as it should.

5. Blocked Inlet Screen:

If your sump pit is blocked, the water flowing into it will take longer than usual to fill up the pit. If the water continues to fill up even though the pit is full, then the sump pump must work harder to draw water out of the pit. Eventually, the pump will fail and stop working.

How to fix this: 
  • First, turn off the sump pump. 
  • Take the sump pump out of the pit.
  • Take care not to damage the inlet screen.
  • Put the sump pump back in the pit and turn it on.

6. The Water Table is High:

In addition to blocking the water from entering, high groundwater levels can also force the pump to work excessively. Even if the sump pit is filled, the pump won’t have enough power to keep pushing water out.

How to Fix This:
  • It would help if you lowered the sump pit’s water table. You can use sandbags, gravel, or soil to raise the water line back down again.

7. Broken Impeller:

One of the impeller blades may break off or become bent. When the blade breaks off, it can get trapped under the casing, preventing the shaft from turning properly. When the shaft becomes jammed, the pump won’t be able to operate. Because the broken blade is lodged inside the housing, repairing it requires replacing the entire sump pump. 

How to Fix This:
  • A clogged or broken impeller will prevent the sump pump from successfully pulling in and pumping out water. Have a professional inspect the impeller to determine whether it needs to be repaired or replaced.

Why do sump pumps fail?

The main reason for failure is overloading. Overloading happens when too much wastewater to push out of the pit. It can also happen when the pit is flooded repeatedly, causing corrosion.

As mentioned earlier, a clogged drainpipe can also overload the sump pump. However, the most common culprits of sump pump failures are blockages. When drains get plugged, they trap debris, including leaves, twigs, and other plant matter. Over time, this material builds up and eventually blocks the pipes completely, making them impossible to unclog.

Overloaded pumps can cause several problems:

  1. They can overheat, which creates additional wear and tear.
  2. Overheating can destroy the pump motor.
  3. The metal parts on the sides of the pump could melt.
  4. The electrical system powering the pump could burn out.
  5. Excessive heat can cause the pump to run continuously, even during non-flooding periods.

What Causes a Sump Pump to Short Cycle?

A short cycle occurs when the pump stops running after flooding but gets restarted automatically once the water level drops below the float switch. This issue usually involves damaged wiring or plumbing that prevents the pump from shutting off correctly.

How Do I Fix A Sump Pump That Shuts Off Automatically?

You should check the wiring first. Ensure that all connections are tight and that there aren’t any loose wires floating around. Also, make sure that there isn’t an open circuit anywhere in the breaker panel. If everything is fine, the next step would be to troubleshoot the wiring between the sensor and the control module. Turn on the sump pump via the control module and see if it runs. If it doesn’t, then the sensor must not be working properly. You will then need to replace the sensor with another one. If the sump pump still does not turn on after replacing the sensor, you will need to contact your local electrician. They might be able to help you figure out the problem.

How Often Should a Sump Pump Run For?

When a sump pump is needed, it should only operate. It should only work when the water level reaches a certain level, activating the float switch. Many factors can affect how often a sump pump runs, including where your property is located and if wet weather is common in your area.


If you think that your sump pump has stopped operating normally, you may have some issues to address. The first thing that you should consider is why you’re having issues. Are you overloaded? Is there something wrong with your wiring? Has the drainage pipe become blocked? Is there anything else preventing your sump pump from performing as expected? You will want to consider these things before contacting a professional plumber about your problems.

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