Ask a Portland Plumber: Why is My Sump Pump Running Constantly?

If your sump pump is running non-stop, that could mean your pump’s capacity has been matched by the flow of the groundwater. This could be a problem because that could mean your pump is at risk of easily being overwhelmed with just a slight increase in the groundwater flowing into the pit.

If your pump keeps running, check some of the following to make sure you’re not at risk of a serious flood.

  1. Make Sure it is Working Correctly

    You need to check that the pump is actually pumping water, and operating close to capacity. You may have sand or silt in your sump pit that could erode the impeller vanes and render the pump nearly useless. Impellers in some models are made of metal that can corrode in water.

  2. Check the Discharge Pipe

    If your discharge pipe or hose becomes clogged or broken due to freezing weather, the pump will run constantly. The pipe can also come loose, and if this happens you will see water circulating in the sump pit.

  3. Check the Check Valve

    If the pit goes dry during a drought and then refills with water, then a 3/16 hole needs to be drilled in the discharge pipe a short distance above the pump. This hole will be needed to allow air to get out of the pump so it can prime. If water above the check valve holds air in the pump, then water will not be able to reach the impeller. In this instance, the pump will continue to run without pumping.

  4. Consider the Ground Water Level

    If your pump is pumping correctly, then you need to look at not only its capacity but the volume and level of the groundwater as well. You may need to either get a pump with more capacity or add a backup. You may, however, be able to simply raise the pump a few inches to let the groundwater reach its level without being constantly pumped out.

    Turn off the pump and see how high the water gets into the pit. If the water level stops rising, then you can raise the level at which the pump engages, and let the water stay at that level. That way, the pump will only turn on when the water gets higher than that level.

    Many times, people will set their pump too deep into the water table, to the point where it pumps water that doesn’t need to be moved.

    If, however, the pit overflows with water with the pump turned off, you’ll need more capacity or a backup. Any increase in the groundwater level will cause a flooded basement.

Call 3 Mountains Plumbing for all your sump pump needs! Our operators are standing by 24/7!

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