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What to do if your sump pump is constantly running

Now that we have a finished basement, I have become paranoid about water coming into the basement and wrecking our new living space (it’s become our favorite rooms in the house). Lately, our sump pump has constantly been running. This prompted a lot of learning about living in the country and why my sump pump is constantly running. 

Here is everything you need to know about a continuously running sump pump.


Why is my sump pump running non-stop?

If your pump is constantly running, you need to see if there is a reason for it. A high water table, lots of heavy rain, and soil conditions can all factor into your sump pump turning on and running.

Just because your sump pump is running all the time doesn’t mean you have a problem.

However, if there is no reason for it to be running, meaning it hasn’t been wet and your pump doesn’t run very often but now is suddenly running constantly, then there is an issue you need to address.

If your sump pump is not turning off, it means that you will need to inspect it further.


Why does my sump pump keep turning on and off?

If your sump pump keeps turning on and off can be an early sign of sump pump issues. Rapid cycling is when a pump turns on and off rapidly for no longer than a few minutes at a time. This short cycling can cause a lot of extra wear and tear on your pump and cause the motor to burn out years earlier than it needs to. 

It’s a good idea to regularly maintain your sump pump. Personally, we also keep a backup sump pump around just in case it goes. Because when you notice it is broken, it’s likely that you will need it right away.


What is causing my sump pump to turn on and off?

The most common reason for this sump pump short cycle is that the float switch of your sump pump is stuck or faulty.

The float needs to be able to move around in the sump pit, and sometimes it can get tangled in the pump’s cable or stuck on the side of the wall of the basin. If the float is not moving freely, it can be tripping the pump to go on when it doesn’t need to or even cause it not to shut off. This will result in the sump pump constantly running.

Another reason for your pump running all the time could be the size of the liner, and your pump can’t keep up. In this case, you need to contact a professional to see what can be done to fix the situation.


What is a sump pump check valve?

A sump pump check valve is a part of the pump that water passes through on its way to the discharge pipe. It is designed so that water cannot flow back the other way into the sump pump pit. This valve goes into action after the sump pump has stopped running, and it closes, preventing any of the pumped-out water from coming back in.


Why are sump pump check valves important?

Sump Pump check valves are important because, without them, the water that gets pumped out can flow back into the basin and cause the water level to rise. Under normal circumstances, this will cause the pump to run more often and can lead to the pump burning out. Once that happens, you can get water coming into your basement.

Worried about water in your basement? We use this wifi water sensor to detect and report water leaks immediately

Why sump pumps run constantly after a heavy rain

If you have a lot of rain at once, it’s normal for your sump pump to run. It’s doing its job. However, you will want to make sure that it is actually pumping out water; otherwise, it may be that the float is stuck and will need to fix or replace the float.

How often should a sump pump run?

A sump pump should run when there is enough water in the sump pit to activate the float switch.

What is a float switch?

A float switch is a key part of your sump pump system. It sits in the basin where the water accumulates. As the water level of the basin rises, the float rises with it. When the water level gets to the point where the pump needs to turn on, the float is the switch that causes it to turn on. As the water drains out of the basin, the float returns to its original low position and should turn off the pump.


What do I do if my sump pump keeps running?

If your pump is constantly running, you should check the basin to see if there is water in it. If there is water in and the pump is doing what it is supposed to do, there is just a lot of water in the ground coming into the sump pit.

However, if there is no water in the basin or minimal water, the float switch may be stuck or broken. Inspect it and determine if the pump needs to be replaced or repaired.


How to fix a sump pump that runs continuously

Most of the time, you can replace the float switch on your sump pump, and it should do the trick. A quick search will help you find your replacement float switch, and the instructions for swapping them out can usually be found online.
If the float switch isn’t the issue, it could be your check valve. If the valve is broken or stuck, the water being pumped out is coming right back in, and that is why the sump pump isn’t shutting off. It won’t shut off because the float can’t return to its normal position.


Is it bad for a sump pump to run continuously?

If there is no water for the sump pump to pump out, then yes, it is bad for it to run constantly.  If it is running all the time, the motor in the pump will burn out and not be able to pump out water when it needs to.

Related: What to do if you have wet carpet in your basement.


How long can a sump pump run continuously?

Depending on the quality of the pump, it can run anywhere from 6 to 24 hours.


Why does my sump pump run every 5 minutes?

Sump pumps run constantly during heavy rain; this is the pump doing its part. A high water table can also contribute to a pump running a lot. However, if your sump pump keeps running and there is no rain, then it could be that your pump is caught in a short cycle.


Final thoughts on a sump pump running constantly

If you find that your pump is running too much, it could be due to one of several factors. Inspect the float switch, check the sump pit and liner to see if there is water coming into it, and make sure your check valve is working. If all of these items are in good shape, your next step will be to contact a professional plumber and get them to do a professional inspection to see what else can be done.

The last thing you want is to find out your sump pump is broken. This can lead to water damage causing your floors to swell (like we discussed in wood floor water damage) and destroy your basement causing lengthy renovations and even worse damage to your overall health. Do yourself a favor and inspect it today, and if you need to, contact a professional plumber using the link below.

Click Here to Find a Specialist 


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