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Troubleshooting Your Sump Pump

Sump pumps reside in the lowest point of your property, providing protection against flooding and associated water damage. Most property owners rarely think about their sump pump until this appliance is needed—however, without regular care, your sump pump may not work properly to prevent flooding in your Vancouver home or business. Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver has you covered.

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Sump Pump Troubleshooting

sump pump troubleshootingKnowing how to care for your sump pump and how to spot signs of trouble are the best ways to protect your home and your belongings from flooding due to rain, water seepage, and plumbing leaks.

How Long Do Sump Pumps Last on Average?

The first step of sump pump troubleshooting is considering your sump pump’s age. On average, sump pumps will only last about 10 years or so before you need to replace it. However, that timeline could vary depending on how much you use it, its electrical source, the quality of the pump, and how far it has to carry the water to discharge it. If your sump pump is a decade or older, and none of the following troubleshooting tips help, call our Vancouver plumbers at Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver for sump pump repair.

Power Problems

One of the most common reasons for sump pump failure is a problem with its power source. Because you may not realize that your sump pump is not receiving power until it fails to activate when you need it, the best way to prevent this problem is to test your sump pump periodically. If the pump doesn’t activate as it should, check its power—most primary sump pumps operate via your home’s electrical grid, so make sure the sump pump is plugged in and the cord is in good condition. Check the outlet itself. It should be connected to a GFI (Ground Fault Circuit), which prevents popping the breaker at the panel. Check the GFI to working, and reset (red button) if needed. It’s also important to remember that if your home’s power is knocked out, your sump pump won’t have power, either. Your plumber can install an emergency backup pump that is battery- or water-operated to ensure your basement will stay dry, even in the event of a power outage.

Capacity Insufficiencies

Like your home’s other appliances, your sump pump has a given capacity, which is determined by its size. If you’re experiencing sump pump failure or wet basement conditions even though your sump pump appears to be working, your sump pump may simply be unable to handle the load it is under. Talk to your plumber about the type of sump pump that is best for your needs; homes that are at higher risk for flooding may require a larger sump pump capable of working for long periods of time, while a home that rarely experiences water issues only needs a small sump pump for emergencies.


Your sump pump drain line can be come clogged, just like any other plumbing pipe in your home. If your sump pump isn’t moving water efficiently, find the outlet pipe outside your home and check it for blockages. You can prevent clogs by clearing debris away from the area around the outlet often, or by installing a grille to keep debris out of the pipe while allowing water to flow through. In some cases, your sump pit can fill with debris as well, affecting the pump’s ability to draw water up and move it through the outlet pipe. Inspecting your sump pit periodically and removing any debris will keep your sump pump and its drain pipes clear of dirt and debris.

Float Switch Issues

Sump pumps employ a switch that tells the pump when it’s time to begin working. When this switch is damaged or malfunctioning, your sump pump won’t activate when it’s needed, leading to home flooding. Every time you test your sump pump, examine the float arm as well. Make sure the float moves when the water level in the pit changes, rather than sticking to the side of the sump pit. A professional plumber should also inspect your sump pump switch regularly to address any wear or possible issues to prevent switch failure when you need it most.

troubleshooting sump pump

Your Vancouver plumber has the knowledge and expertise to keep your home dry throughout the year. You’ll find plenty more helpful home plumbing advice when you follow our onsite blog!

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Mr. Rooter iconAbout the Author: Steve Ferree, Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver

Steve has been a trusted Mr. Rooter owner of Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Vancouver since 1999. With over 20 years to back him, Steve has experience with a wide range of plumbing related solutions and systems. He and his team specialize in drain cleaning, sewer repair, re-piping, and more.