A sump pump is a crucial component of a home’s basement water system, designed to prevent flooding and costly repairs. However, many homeowners are left wondering, “How often should a sump pump run?” The answer to this question can be complicated and depends on several factors, including the size of your sump pit, the water table in your area, and the design of your sump pump system.
In this article, we’ll dive into the factors that affect sump pump run time, what a normal run time looks like, and when you should be concerned about a constantly running sump pump. We’ll also provide tips for maintaining your sump pump, answers to frequently asked questions, and winter considerations to keep in mind.
Factors affecting sump pump run time
There are several factors that can affect how often should your sump pump run. Here are some of the most common:
An underground leak in your home’s water main can cause an increase in groundwater level, which can trigger your sump pump to run more often. If you suspect an underground leak, it’s important to contact a professional plumber for an inspection.
Check valve failure
A check valve is a crucial component of a sump pump system that prevents water from flowing back into the sump pit after it has been pumped out. If the check valve fails, water can start flowing back into the pit, causing the pump to run continuously. In most cases, this problem can be easily fixed by hiring professional plumbers who can replace the faulty valve and get the pump back to operating normally.
High water table
The water table refers to the level of groundwater in your area. If the water table is high, it can cause an increase in the water level in your sump pit, triggering your sump pump to run more often. This can happen in areas where heavy rains or a high groundwater level is the main cause of water to rise and fill the pit, which causes to sump pump turns on and start pumping.
Blocked or leaking discharge pipe
The discharge pipe is the pipe that carries water away from your sump pit. If the discharge pipe is blocked or leaking, it can cause water to flow back into the pit, causing the sump pump to run continuously. This can be a plumbing problem that requires the expertise of professional plumbers to repair and ensure the water is being properly redirected away from your home.
Undersized sump pump
If your sump pump is undersized for your home, it may not be able to handle the amount of water that needs to be pumped out of your sump pit. This can result in the sump pump running continuously to maintain pace with the water flow. In such cases, it may be necessary to install a larger, replacement pump to keep the water level in the small pit at a manageable level.
Clogged inlet screen
The inlet screen is located near the bottom of your sump pit and is designed to prevent debris from entering the pump. If the inlet screen becomes clogged, it can limit the water flow into the pump, making the sump pump run continuously. A simple cleaning or replacement of the inlet screen can often solve this problem, preventing the pump from being stuck and allowing it to keep operating normally.
The impeller, a spinning component of the sump pump, helps to force water out of the pit. If the impeller becomes broken, the pump may not be able to effectively pump water out of the pit, causing it to run continuously. In such cases, the entire sump pump may need to be replaced to ensure it can continue draining water from the pit and protecting your basement from flooding.
Normal Run Time for a Sump Pump
So, how often should a sump pump run? The answer to this question can vary, but in general, a sump pump should run for short periods of time as needed to remove excess water from the sump pit whenever a certain water level is met. A sump pump may run for several minutes at a time, or it may run for several hours, depending on the amount of water in the pit and the design of the pump.
It’s important to note that the run time of your sump pump can also vary based on the time of year. For example, during periods of heavy rainfall, your pump may run more often than during times of less rainfall. This is normal and expected, and it’s the sump pump’s job to protect your basement and your home’s foundation from too much water.
However, if your sump pump is running constantly, even during periods of little to no rainfall, it could indicate a problem like a clogged intake screen, broken float switch, or a broken check valve. If you notice a significant increase in your energy bills, it’s best to call a professional plumber to assess the situation and determine the cause.
When to be Concerned about Continuously Running Sump Pump
If your sump pump is running constantly, it could indicate a problem with your basement or crawlspace. A sump pump chamber with a negative ground grade can cause the pump to run continuously. The pump is designed to turn on and work when the water reaches a certain level in the sump pit, which is the lowest point in your basement or crawlspace. In order to prevent the standing water from reaching this point, the sump pump must run continuously.
High energy bills
If your sump pump constantly runs, it results in excessive electricity usage, resulting in increased energy bills. This can be a sign that your pump is too small for the size of your home, or that there’s a problem with your pump that needs to be fixed. A local plumber can advise you on whether you need a larger pump or if the pump needs to be professionally sealed to avoid flooding.
Shorter lifespan of pump
When a sump pump is running continuously, it’s working harder than it should be, which can lead to a shorter lifespan for the pump. Overworking your sump pump can cause it to overheat, leading to mechanical problems or even complete failure. If this occurs, it may be necessary to replace the pump with a new one.
Maintaining Your Sump Pump
Proper maintenance of your sump pump can help prevent problems and ensure that it’s working properly. Here are a few things you can do to keep the smooth operation of your sump pump runs:
Cleaning sump pump pit
It’s important to regularly clean the sump pump pit to remove any debris or sludge that could clog the pump or cause it to run continuously. You should clean your sump pump pit at least once a year, or more frequently if you notice debris or sludge building up.
Checking settings and parts
You should also periodically inspect your sump pump to make sure that all of its parts are in good working order. Check the float switch, the discharge line, the check valve, and the power cord to make sure they’re all functioning properly. If you notice any problems, you should have them repaired by a professional plumber.
It’s winter and you are worried about your sump pump running constantly, and what that could mean for your home and wallet. Here are some of the most common reasons why sump pumps run in winter and what you can do to avoid costly repairs.
Why Does My Sump Pump Run in Winter?
There are a few common reasons why your sump pump might be running in winter. The most common reason is that there is excess moisture in your basement or crawl space due to the local water table rising. This can occur when snow melts or rainwater fills the detention pond in your garden. If your sump pump is working properly, it should activate and force water out to prevent flooding. If you have a basement floor, it is important to install the sump pump in the lowest part of the basement where water rises in order to be as effective as possible.
Frozen Flex Hose and Incorrect Settings
Another common reason for sump pump running constantly in winter is a frozen flex hose. The hose is the part of your sump pump system that carries the water from the sump pit to the discharge line. If the hose is frozen, the water won’t be able to flow out, which will lead to sump pump running continuously. To prevent this, make sure your hose is properly insulated, or consider replacing it with a more durable and winter-proof material like a hose made from silicone. Additionally, professionally sealing the sump pit with waterproof paint could also prevent the water from freezing in the pit and causing the sump pump to run continuously.
In some cases, incorrect settings on your sump pump can also cause it to run continuously. For example, if the float switch is set too high, the pump will activate and run even if there isn’t enough water in the sump pit. Make sure your sump pump is properly adjusted and functioning optimally. If you’re unsure how to adjust the float switch, it’s best to consult a professional plumber. The plumbers can also help you check the intake holes and make sure they are not clogged, which can affect the water level and lead to sump pump running constantly.
Stopping a Continuously Running Sump Pump
It is important to halt the sump pump run continuously as soon as possible to prevent costly repairs and potential harm to your home’s foundation. To do this, you can either unplug the power cord, or turn off the breaker that powers the sump pump. If you’re unsure how to do this, it’s best to consult a professional plumber or a general contractor who can give you a direct answer and help you solve the problem in a safe manner.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked questions about sump pumps and their run time:
How long should a sump pump run per cycle?
The amount of time a sump pump should run per cycle can vary based on several factors, such as the size of the pump, the water flow, and the water level in the sump pit. Typically, a sump pump will run for a few minutes at a time and then shut off. The sump pump turns back on again when the water rises to a certain level in the pit. The right size sump pump for a large home may run for longer periods than a pump in a smaller house.
Is it normal for a sump pump to run every minute?
No, it is not typical for a sump pump to continue running every minute. If your sump pump is running that frequently, it could be an indication of a problem, such as a clogged discharge line, a broken check valve, or a malfunctioning float switch. A professional plumber can give you a short answer and help you diagnose the issue.
Is it OK for the sump pit to be dry?
Yes, it is perfectly normal for the sump pit to be dry at times. The sump pump is meant to pump out more water from the pit when the water level reaches a certain point, so if there’s no water, there’s nothing to pump. However, if the sump pit is constantly dry, it could indicate that the sump pump is not working properly.
Why does my sump pump run constantly in heavy rain?
Your sump pump may run constantly in heavy rain to keep up with the excess water. This is normal and expected. However, if your sump pump is running constantly even during periods of low rainfall, it could indicate a problem and should be inspected by a professional. This could be due to a clogged intake screen, broken float switch, or a broken check valve, which can cause the sump pump to continuously run.
How often should you clean your sump pump pit?
You should clean your sump pump pit at least once a year to keep it in good working condition. Cleaning the pit involves removing any debris, such as dirt and leaves, that may have accumulated over time.
Why does the sump pump run when it’s not raining?
There are many reasons why a sump pump might run when it’s not raining. Some common reasons include a broken check valve, a broken float switch, or an underground spring that is causing the water table to rise. It’s also possible that the pump is running due to a problem with the drain tile or a low ground grade that allows water to collect in the sump pit.
It’s crucial to comprehend the reasons for and frequency of when your sump pump runs. Regular maintenance and inspection by a professional plumber can ensure that your sump pump is working properly and will protect your home from costly damage and flooding. With the right care, your sump pump should last for many years, keeping your basement and crawl space dry and comfortable year-round.