Why Does My Sump Pump Keep Running?

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A sump pump, an essential appliance for homes with basements or crawlspaces prone to water intrusion, is a specialty of T&J Rooter Service, known for their expertise in sump pump installation and replacement. It works by pumping water away from the foundation of your home to prevent flooding.

Normally, a sump pump will turn on when the water level in the sump pit rises high enough to trigger the float switch. Once the water is pumped out, the switch turns off the pump until it’s needed again. Having your sump pump constantly running is usually a sign of a problem.

Here are some of the most common reasons why your sump pump keeps running and how to troubleshoot the issues:

1. Blocked Discharge Pipe

The discharge pipe carries water pumped from the sump pit away from your home’s foundation. If it becomes clogged with debris, sediment buildup, or freezes over, water can’t exit properly. This will cause water to back up in the pit, making the pump run continuously.

Signs of a blocked discharge line:

  • Water spraying out of vent holes in the pipe above ground
  • Reduced flow from the outlet
  • Loud humming noise from the pump straining

To fix it:

  • Use a drain snake to clear any clogs
  • Check for crushed or kinked portions of pipe
  • Make sure the pipe outlet is not blocked by snow, ice, leaves, etc.

Prevent clogs by installing a check valve and keeping the end of the pipe protected with a screen to filter debris.

2. Malfunctioning Float Switch

The float switch triggers the pump to turn on when water reaches a certain level in the sump pit. If it gets stuck, disconnected, or obstructed, it can’t accurately sense water levels.

Signs of float switch issues:

  • Pump constantly running even when pit is empty
  • Pump won’t turn on even when water is present
  • Float rod appears crooked or unattached

To fix it:

  • Carefully detach float switch and check for obstructions
  • Straighten float rod if bent
  • Clean off any debris stuck to float or switch
  • Replace float switch if defective

Prevent issues by routinely inspecting float switch and keeping sump pit clean of sediment.

3. Faulty Check Valve

A check valve prevents water from flowing back into the sump pit after being pumped out. If it fails, water will continuously re-enter the pit and trigger the pump.

Signs of a bad check valve:

  • Water leaks back into the pit when pump shuts off
  • Noises indicating backflow
  • Visible cracks or damage on valve components

To fix it:

  • Inspect, clean and reposition check valve
  • Replace any broken or worn out seals or flappers
  • Install new check valve rated for sump pump size

Maintain the check valve by cleaning sediment buildup and lubricating the flapper as needed.

4. Incorrectly Sized Sump Pump

If your sump pump doesn’t have the capacity to handle the amount of water entering your pit, it will run non-stop.

Signs of undersized pump:

  • Pump runs frequently but water level remains high
  • Pump works overtime during heavy rains
  • Water overflows from the pit

To fix it:

  • Calculate rate of water flow into the pit
  • Match pump capacity to highest potential water volume
  • Upgrade to higher power/gallon-per-minute pump if needed

Consult a plumber to ensure your pump is adequate for your home’s requirements. Oversized pumps waste energy.

5. Excessive Inflow of Groundwater

Large volumes of groundwater seeping into the sump pit from the surrounding soil can overwhelm the pump. This causes constant run times.

Signs of excessive groundwater:

  • Pit fills rapidly even without recent rains
  • Pump runs frequently without much surface water
  • Must pump water several times a day

To fix it:

  • Check sump pit for cracks allowing water intrusion
  • Apply hydraulic cement to seal foundation cracks
  • Install interior drainage system to divert water
  • Extend downspouts and grading to improve drainage

Reduce groundwater with proper rainwater management and by sealing cracks in foundation walls and floor.

6. High Water Table

A naturally high water table around your home will cause more groundwater pressure and seepage into the basement or crawlspace. This continually activates the pump.

Signs of high water table:

  • Pit water recharges quickly after pumping
  • Constant dampness in basement or crawlspace
  • Water seen oozing through foundation walls

To fix it:

  • Install a perimeter drain and sump pump system
  • Apply waterproof sealant on foundation exterior
  • Improve rain drainage away from structure
  • Consider a backup battery pump during power outages

Correcting a high water table is difficult without professional drainage improvements. Waterproofing helps manage symptoms.

7. Leaking Pipes or Cracks in Pit

Leaks from household pipes or the sump pit itself can send water into the basin, triggering the pump. Slow drips are often not visible at first.

Signs of pit leaks:

  • Pump runs frequently without rain or moisture
  • Unexplained wetness in sump pit area
  • Visible dripping from pipes or foundation cracks

To fix it:

  • Inspect pipes, joints, walls for moisture and drips
  • Repair leaking pipes and seal foundation cracks
  • Check sump pit liner for punctures or deterioration
  • Replace sump pit if liner is badly damaged or leaking

Prevent leaks by sealing foundation, monitoring pipes, and installing a quality sump liner.

8. Failed Sump Pump

If the pump motor, impeller, or internal switch fail, the pump won’t be able to empty water from the pit. This causes constant run times.

Signs of failing sump pump:

  • Pump runs but does not eject water
  • Loud humming or grinding noises
  • Periodic tripping of circuit breaker

To fix it:

  • Remove and inspect pump for damage
  • Clean impeller and pump housing of debris
  • Have a technician test and repair motor
  • Replace defective or broken pump parts

Extend pump life with periodic maintenance like lubricating, cleaning sediment, and testing.

Troubleshooting Constantly Running Sump Pump

Follow these steps to pinpoint why your sump pump is always on:

  • Listen for odd noises like humming or sputtering which indicate issues.
  • Check float switch operation by manually lifting rod to start/stop pump.
  • Inspect discharge pipe for blockages, crimps, frozen sections.
  • Examine inlet piping for signs of leaks driving excess water into pit.
  • Monitor how quickly pit refills after pumping to gauge water inflow.
  • Determine when pump activates – during rains? frequently in dry weather?
  • Consider recent weather patterns – unusually wet season? snow melt?
  • Test pump outlet flow to estimate gallons pumped per minute.
  • Measure sump pit dimensions to calculate holding capacity.

Once the source of the problem is identified, undertake repairs to get your sump pump working properly again.

Preventing Constant Sump Pump Operation

You can minimize excess runtime and ensure your sump pump lasts longer by:

  • Routinely cleaning the sump pit of sediment
  • Checking discharge pipes for blockages
  • Replacing worn out check valves
  • Keeping float switches free of debris
  • Sealing foundation cracks limiting groundwater
  • Directing downspouts and grading away from foundation
  • Matching pump capacity to potential water volumes
  • Installing a backup pump system
  • Following manufacturer maintenance tips
  • Testing pump monthly and replacing every 10 years

Proper home drainage and sump pump maintenance will keep it running only as needed during wet weather. Contact a plumber right away if your pump seems to run continuously even during dry weather. Ignoring constant pumping risks burning out the motor, overflowing the sump pit, and potential water damage.

When to Call a Professional

If you’ve checked for common problems but your sump pump still runs nonstop, contact T&J Rooter Service at 419-474-8774 for expert troubleshooting. Our skilled technicians can pinpoint harder-to-diagnose issues like underground leaks, high water tables requiring drainage upgrades, foundation cracks, improperly sized pumps, and more.

We offer complete sump pump inspection, maintenance, repairs, and replacement in Toledo, OH and surrounding areas. Rely on our years of experience to get your sump pump working properly again. Call today to schedule affordable service and prevent expensive water damage!

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