Sump Pump Concerns
Q: Why is my sump pump running constantly?
The submersible sump pump in our basement cycles off and on almost constantly. It keeps our basement dry, but I'm worried that it might fail. Is there any way to know if it's about to stop working?
—Joe Howard, St. Anne, MO.
Tom Silva replies: Not really. The first indication of a problem usually is water in your basement. Good-quality submersible pumps can easily last 10 years, and 15 isn't uncommon, but any pump that runs a lot will have a shorter life than one that only kicks on once in a while.
There are many reasons for a pump to run constantly. The most likely one is that poor outside drainage is causing your sump to fill too quickly. Make sure your gutters are clear and that downspouts are sending water at least 10 feet from the foundation. Maybe the pump is set too low in the pit. Lift the pump a few inches and see if it stops. If it does, put a couple of bricks under the pump to support it, being careful not to obstruct the float that triggers the on/off switch. Or maybe the check valve was installed backward and all the water in the exhaust pipe is just draining back into the sump after the pump shuts off. It would be wise to call in a sump repair expert to determine why your pump is working so hard.
In your case, I'd be just as worried about a power failure as a pump failure, so if you're getting a new pump, you might consider installing a backup pump connected to a battery, such as Little Giant's SPBS.