Common Sump Pump Problems

October 21, 2021

If you have a basement, then you know how vital a sump pump is when it comes to keeping your basement protected from flooding and water damage. If you didn’t know or have an unprotected basement, now is the time to learn more and act.

Regardless, a sump pump for your basement is vital in protecting against water damage. That being said, what are the most common factors that can stop a sump pump from working?

Here are just a few of the most common sump pump problems, with some information on how they are caused, as well as how you might solve them.

Faulty Installation

One factor that should never be overlooked when it comes to dealing with sump pump problems is the possibility that it was installed wrong. In many cases, this could be down to the simple fact that whoever was installing the sump pump had no previous experience of doing so.

Or, perhaps the installation was part of a personal project, or it could be that the installation was completed before you took ownership of the property and you weren’t aware at all that the pump had been installed incorrectly.

A faulty installation can lead to a number of different problems with a sump pump, things like the motor running and yet no water being pumped, air pressure overwhelming the pump itself, or even having debris and other natural elements clogging the pump itself.

The solution here is a simple one: rely on the experts to not only install your pump, but to look over and check any pre-installed pump in your property to make sure that it’s correctly connected to your pipes, to your waterproofing system, and installed in such a way that won’t lead to mechanical failure.

Sump pump installation should only be attempted by qualified engineers, never by yourself or anyone without the correct experience. If you need a qualified engineer to check over your sump pump, you can contact us today.

Faulty Switch


A faulty switch is a fairly common reason for a sump pump failure, and that is often quickly diagnosed and fixed by a technician quickly.

There are multiple reasons that a sump pump switch might fail, including old age, excessive usage or even mechanical failure.

You can read more about why a sump pumps floating switch might fail here, but it can lead to your pump failing to empty itself when needed, which in turn can lead to the pump itself overflowing and potentially flooding your basement- even though that’s exactly what a sump pump is designed to avoid.

You might have a faulty pump switch if you can hear your pump engaged constantly, or never engaging at all – either way, it is not a good sign. If you suspect you have a faulty switch, then it’s time to call out a qualified engineer who can diagnose and fix your pump as soon as possible.

Pump Not Maintained Correctly


A sump pump is, at its core, a working piece of machinery. Depending on the level of moisture present in and around your property they can be hard working everyday, or perhaps a little less used than others. Either way, your sump pump is likely engaging regularly to keep your basement water free -and that means its moving.

Like any machinery this means that there is going to be general day to day wear and tear inflicted to the sump pump itself. That on its own is nothing to worry about at all, provided that you have regular maintenance scheduled in to keep your sump pump in working order.

Without regular, consistent checks from experienced sump pump engineers you may well experience a basement flood due to a certain part or component on your sump pump failing, and you, as an owner, not noticing.

This is probably one of the main causes of faults within a sump pump, and is so easily avoided with a non invasive maintenance  schedule. If you need to arrange one to take care of your basement sump pumps, just give us a call today.

Our engineers can arrange a schedule that keeps your sump pump in safe working order, routinely inspected and serviced (if needed) every three months, in line with British Standards and at your convenience.

Power Cut

Flooded basement

When a sump pump has a power cut is a pretty common problem when it comes to sump pump failure and fault.
Usually, a loss in power means that your sump pumps pump won’t engage, simply because it hasn’t got any power to do so.

If it’s a power cut in a dry season, or just for a moment you might find that there is no real problem – you might not even notice. However, in the event of a storm and heavy rainfall it’s a different matter altogether.

In these circumstances, you might experience a flooded basement, as your sump pump is incapable of flushing away the water that has been collected in its tank. Obviously, this is not ideal – especially if the rainfall is heavy and your basement is fast flooding.

Luckily there is a pretty simple solution. Most sump pumps can be fitted with a backup system that kicks in when the main alternating current loses its power. This means that if your sump pump loses power from the mains, it has a battery to fall back on, and there is no real loss in service.

You can even buy sump pumps with these alternate power sources pre-installed, or featuring additional pumps that are powered independently. If you are interested in these solutions, you can read more about them here, and our qualified engineers will be more than happy to assist in their installation within your home.

Clogged Pipes or Pump

Sump pump check valve blocked

Pipes sometimes get clogged -it’s a sad fact of life. Whether it be from something untoward getting into your sump pump and making its way into the pipes, water freezing due to low temperatures, or even nature talking over and having roots compromise your piping, there are lots of reasons a pipe might clog.

Usually these clogs take place on the discharge line connected to the sump pump, which you might know as the pipe leading water away from your sump pump. Now, in the event that you suspect your pipes are blocked you can always have them investigated with the likes of a CCTV drain survey.

A drain survey will give an expert a look into your pipes to better understand what is causing the blockage and the next steps that should be taken in order to avoid a sump pump backup flood.

It could also be the case that the sump pump itself has become clogged. If improperly covered then it is likely that dirt, soil, gravel, or whatever else might make its way into the pump and clog it up.

This means that the pump itself might not be able to spin due to being clogged with dirt, or that the pipes within the pump might not allow water to flow.

Either way, it will take a qualified engineer to not only fix the pump itself, but to ascertain exactly how it was the pump came to be clogged in the first place, and to help you as the property owner in knowing that the same thing won’t happen again.

It can be frustrating, but since there are several different reasons for a pipe to become blocked, there are several different solutions, and only once the problem is understood can it be tackled.

Defective Pump


Sadly, sometimes you install a sump pump that doesn’t do the job it was designed to do. It could be because you purchased from a manufacturer who was less than reliable, or maybe due to installation errors the pump is now unworkable.

That is a pretty severe problem, and if left alone its easy to understand exactly how it can lead to a flooded basement. Of course, the best way to avoid a faulty sump pump is to have the engineer installing your pump test it thoroughly to make sure that its in full working order, and that you have nothing to worry about in the immediate future when it comes to its usage.

Alongside a proper and professional installation, regular maintenance can help you avoid the potential havoc that a flood caused by a non-operational pump might bring. Just arrange a schedule with one of our engineers and they will be happy to help.

How to Avoid Problems with Your Sump Pump

As mentioned your sump pump is vital in keeping your basement dry and intact. To that end, many common and not-so-common problems that can arise in your sump pump are best prevented rather than having to be fixed.

That means a regular and consistent maintenance schedule is your best bet in staving off sump pump failure. Give us a call on 0800 019 9949 or get in touch online to set up a schedule that works for you.


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