Sunday, July 22, 2012

Could my sump pump be the problem?

A LOT of people think that when they have a water problem in their basement and that the waterproofing must have failed. That’s not always the case, if you are living in a home that was built in the last 20 years you may have a problem with your sump pump.

First things first what is a “sump pump”;

A sump pump is a water pump that is installed in your basement usually in a plastic pail. The pail is called a sump pail or a sump pit; it is placed at the lowest possible spot in your basement. It is usually installed so that it sits below the concrete floor in your basement. The sump pump sits in the bottom of the pail; it will be electric and need to be plugged into the wall. It will have an exhaust pipe coming off the side or the top of it, this pipe should proceed up and out the wall away from the home. In modern homes the pail that the sump pump sits in will have one or several drain lines running into it. They will be coming from the weeping system on the outside of the building and sometimes from under the floor.

The reason for a sump pump is very simple; its job is to move water from underneath your basement floor and deposit it somewhere away from the building.

The reasons that we bother to install a sump pump are as follows;

It helps release the hydrostatic pressure on the basement floor and the foundation walls. If you have too much pressure from the water around the home it will start to find a way into the basement anywhere it can. It can be the cause of that damp smell when you walk into the basement.

It allows the weepers to move water away from the house foundation.

When you pump water that is under pressure from the surrounding ground it allows more water to flow into the void that has been created.

Sump pumps can act as an emergency backup in the spring and fall when high rain fall or snow melt saturate the ground and put enormous pressure on the foundation and basement floor of a home.
What you should have someone check or you could check yourself is if the sump pump is working properly.

Sump pumps are very simple machines and are fairly easy to check.

What you do is pull up on the float, the float is a small rubber shaped ball or a rod with a rubber ball attached to it. It depends on the kind of sump pump that you have. If you lift the rubber ball (the float) that is attached to the sump pump until it is at its highest point the sump pump should turn on. If before you get to the highest point that it will go to the pump does not turn on then the pump is not working.

If the sump pump doesn’t turn on when you lift the float then you should check a couple of things.

Check to see if the sump pump is plugged in.

If it is plugged in then check to see if there is power at that plug, plug something else in like a radio.

In a lot of sump pumps there are two plugs, one plug is the power to the pump and the other one is for the float. If either one of them is not plugged in then the sump pump won’t work.

If you have the kind of sump pump that sits on the bottom of the pail and is underwater then you need to check the bottom of the pump to see if any stones or debris have gotten in it and jammed the fan. This might require you to unscrew the base and look inside. Just make sure you unplug it from the wall first.

If the sump pump did turn on when you pulled the float then you need to check a couple of other things.

Make sure that when the sump pump starts pumping the water actually leaves the pail. If not then there could be something wrong with the exhaust line.

If when the sump pump turns on and it doesn’t empty most of the water out of the pail then there could be something wrong with the pump and you need a plumber.

If the water pours in faster than the sump pump can move it then you might need a second sump pump.

If you find that the sump pump is sitting above the water and not able to pump it then you will need to lower the sump pump. This might require you to physically lower the pail by digging it deeper.

The one other thing that you should check is where the exhaust line goes once it leaves your home. If the water is spilling out directly on the outside of your home then you are just cycling the water back to the pump. The exhaust line should run far enough away from the building that the water will have no chance in coming back.

Rob Abbott
Operations Manager
Village Builders Inc.


  1. I was having serious property drainage issues. Every time it rained my basement would flood so I had a sump pump installed but it wasn't working as well as I wanted it to. I found out that all the water goes towards my house not away from it so I had a landscaper come out and fix my lawn and I don't have any problems any more. So my sump pump wasn't the problem after all.

  2. Sump pump is an important tool at home, since it helps prevent basement flooding that may lead to property and health damage due to growth of mold. Thanks for sharing this information. This will help everyone to be informed about sump pump. But if a more complicated problem occurs, it’s always better to call an expert. :)

    {Kurt Verdejo}

  3. Even if you don’t notice any problem with your sump pump, it’s important that you check it regularly. Call an expert to look at it, most especially before the rainy season starts. This is to ensure that your pump will always be there for you when you need it the most.

    Darryl Iorio

  4. Our sump pump have been serving us for more than 10 years now. It had a bit of a problem years back, but my dad was able to revive it. After all those years, I know that you guys are right, it is very important in the basement to avoid unwanted water and the growth of mold.

    Carmella Vancil