Sump Pump Failure Causes plumbing

What Causes a Sump Pump to Fail?

Sump pumps are invaluable appliances for homeowners, especially in areas prone to flooding. They play a crucial role in preventing water damage by removing excess water from basements or crawl spaces. However, like any mechanical device, sump pumps can fail. In this article, we will explore the common reasons behind sump pump failures and how you can prevent them from happening.

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Lack of Maintenance

One of the primary reasons for sump pump failure is the lack of regular maintenance. Over time, debris, dirt, and small particles can accumulate in the sump pit, causing the pump to clog and lose efficiency. It’s essential to clean the sump pump and the pit at least once a year to ensure it operates smoothly.

Power Outages

Sump pumps rely on electricity to function. During power outages, if you don’t have a backup power source like a battery or a generator, your sump pump won’t work. This can be a significant problem during heavy storms when power outages are common.

Float Switch Problems

The float switch is responsible for turning the sump pump on and off as the water level rises and falls. If the float switch malfunctions or gets stuck, your sump pump may not activate when it should, leading to flooding issues.

Clogged Discharge Pipe

The discharge pipe carries water from the sump pump to the outside. If this pipe becomes clogged with debris or frozen during the winter, the pump’s efficiency decreases, and it may eventually fail.

Pump Size Mismatch

Choosing the wrong-sized sump pump for your needs can lead to premature failure. If your pump is too small for the amount of water it needs to handle, it will have to work harder, leading to wear and tear.

Stuck Impeller

The impeller is the part of the sump pump responsible for moving water. If it becomes jammed or damaged, the pump won’t be able to function correctly.

Old Age

Sump pumps, like any mechanical device, have a finite lifespan. As they age, their parts can wear out or become less efficient. Regularly inspect your sump pump, and if it’s nearing the end of its life, consider replacing it to prevent unexpected failures.

Improper Installation

Incorrect installation can lead to various issues with sump pumps. If the pump isn’t set up correctly or if the discharge pipe isn’t positioned correctly, it can impact its performance and lead to failure.

Frozen Discharge Pipe

In colder climates, sump pump discharge pipes can freeze during the winter months. This prevents water from being expelled properly and can damage the pump.

Overwhelmed Pump

During heavy rainfall or rapid snowmelt, the sump pump may struggle to keep up with the incoming water. An overwhelmed pump can burn out quickly.

Tripped Circuit Breaker

If the sump pump is connected to a circuit that frequently trips, it can disrupt its operation and lead to failures.

Switch Problems

Issues with the pump’s switches, including the float switch and pressure switch, can prevent it from turning on when needed.

Inadequate Testing

Some homeowners neglect to test their sump pumps regularly. Testing your sump pump periodically ensures that it’s working correctly and allows you to identify any issues before they become critical.


Corrosion can affect the pump’s components, leading to decreased efficiency and eventual failure.

Defective Check Valve

The check valve prevents water from flowing back into the sump pit after the pump has turned off. If it’s defective, water can re-enter the pit, causing the pump to cycle unnecessarily and wear out faster.

A sump pump failure can result in costly water damage and headaches for homeowners. To prevent such failures, regular maintenance, proper installation, and addressing any issues promptly are essential. Being prepared with backup power sources during outages and choosing the right-sized pump can also help ensure your sump pump operates smoothly and protects your home.


  1. How often should I test my sump pump? It’s recommended to test your sump pump at least once every three months to ensure it’s working correctly.
  2. Can a sump pump be installed by a homeowner, or do I need a professional? While some homeowners can install sump pumps themselves, it’s often best to have a professional plumber Bristol do the installation to ensure it’s done correctly.
  3. What’s the average lifespan of a sump pump? The average lifespan of a sump pump is around 10 years, but this can vary depending on usage and maintenance.
  4. Is a battery backup system necessary for my sump pump? A battery backup system is highly recommended, especially if you live in an area with frequent power outages. It ensures your sump pump can operate even when the electricity is down.
  5. How can I prevent my sump pump discharge pipe from freezing? To prevent freezing, insulate the discharge pipe and ensure it’s pitched away from your home to allow proper drainage.

Understanding the potential causes of sump pump failure and taking proactive measures to address them is key to maintaining a dry and protected home.

Sump Pump Failure Causes plumbing
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