As St. Louis winter is upon us and Spring is right around the corner, the importance of a well-functioning sump pump in your basement can’t be overstated. A functioning sump pump is an unsung hero of the house, tirelessly working to prevent water damage caused by heavy snowfall or rain. In turn, your sump pump can save your home’s foundation from costly repairs. That’s because a sump pump in prime condition is the difference between a dry, secure basement and potential flooding. While a powerful tool, sump pumps are not immune to issues. Everything from power failures to clogged or frozen lines to general wear-and-tear can lead to inefficiency. In need of sump pump installation or replacement in St. Louis? Here are the top reasons your sump pump may be failing to do the job.
Top Reasons for Sump Pump Problems
Sump pumps are essential in homes where the groundwater level is high or in regions prone to heavy rainfall and flooding. They help keep basements and crawlspaces dry by pumping out water that collects in the sump basin and directing it away from the house. However, these systems are not without their vulnerabilities. Let’s take a closer look at the top reasons St. Louis homeowners require sump pump repair.
The most common issue with sump pumps is power failure. Sump pumps depend heavily on electricity to operate. During periods of intense storms, which is precisely when the sump pump’s services are most crucial, there’s a high chance of power outages. A power outage can render a sump pump useless, leaving your home at risk for water damage, mold growth, and structural instability due to flooding.
In the event of a power failure, a sump pump will stop working unless it has an alternative power source. A battery backup for a sump pump can provide hours of additional operation during a power outage, ensuring continuous protection against flooding. These backup systems usually come with an alarm that alerts homeowners when the primary power source has failed, and the backup system is in use.
Investing in a battery backup for your sump pump can save thousands of dollars in potential water damage repairs, not to mention the invaluable preservation of personal belongings that may be stored in the basement. It’s a small price to pay for the considerable protection it offers your home during inclement weather conditions.
It’s Not Powerful Enough
An overwhelmed sump pump is a common problem that can lead to significant water damage in your home. Essentially, if the sump pump isn’t powerful enough to handle the volume of water it needs to move, it can become overwhelmed, fall behind, and eventually fail to protect your home from flooding.
Sump pumps are rated by horsepower (HP) and gallons per minute (GPM) or gallons per hour (GPH). The HP indicates the power of the motor, while GPM or GPH indicates the amount of water the pump can move in a given time. If your sump pump’s HP and GPM/GPH ratings aren’t sufficient for the demands of your home, it can easily become overwhelmed during heavy rainstorms or periods of rapid snowmelt.
It’s crucial to ensure that your sump pump has enough capacity for your home’s needs. When a sump pump is overwhelmed, it’s continuously running but not effectively reducing the water level in the sump basin. This can cause the motor to burn out, leading to pump failure. If a sump pump fails, water can quickly rise and overflow from the sump basin, leading to water damage in your basement or crawl space.
To determine the right size of sump pump, you need to consider factors such as:
- The size of your house
- The area of the basement or crawl space
- The extent of the water intrusion that is happening
- The amount of rainfall or snowmelt your area typically receives.
It’s highly recommended that you consult with a sump pump repair St. Louis specialist, like our experienced team at Stratum Structural Systems. With over 40 years of experience , we have serviced the St. Louis area, providing services including fixing foundation cracks and waterproofing basements in the entire St. Louis area and surrounding counties. In addition, we are the top sump pump repair company St. Louis residents trust!
Clogged Discharge Lines
Clogged discharge lines are a common issue that can significantly hinder the functionality of your sump pump. The sump pump relies on these lines to transport water away from your home, ensuring that it doesn’t seep into your basement or crawl space and cause damage. If these lines become blocked, the pump can’t do its job effectively, and water may start to back up, leading to potential flooding and water damage.
Blockages in the discharge lines can be caused by a variety of factors. Dirt and debris, for example, can easily build up over time. This includes leaves, twigs, stones, and other garden waste that might get washed into the pipe due to clogged gutters and downspouts during heavy rainfall. In some cases, small animals such as rodents or insects may also find their way into the discharge lines, causing blockages.
In addition, the lines can also become blocked by ice or snow during winter months. If the water in the discharge line or a downspout freezes, it can create an ice plug that prevents the sump pump from pumping out any more water.
When a discharge line becomes clogged, the sump pump will continue to run but won’t be able to remove water from your home. This constant running can wear out the pump prematurely and lead to potential motor burnout. Moreover, the inability to pump water out can cause water to overflow from the sump pit, leading to potential water damage in your home.
To prevent clogs in your sump pump’s discharge lines, it’s important to conduct regular checks and maintenance. This could involve visually inspecting the line for any visible blockages, running water through the line to check for any slowdowns, or even using a plumber’s snake to clear out stubborn clogs.
Additionally, adding a grate or screen at the end of the discharge line can help prevent larger debris or animals from entering the pipe. However, it’s important to ensure this screen is regularly cleaned so it doesn’t become a blockage itself.
Switch is Stuck
The switch, or the float as it is more commonly referred to is a crucial component of the pump, as it activates the system when the water level in the sump pit rises and deactivates it once the water level has been pumped away and lowered . If this float gets stuck, it can lead to serious problems, including flooding and water damage.
Typically, a sump pump float gets stuck by becoming hung up on the pit’s wall or entangled upon itself. Additionally, the pump itself may shift or move within the basin. This could happen for several reasons. For instance, vibrations caused by the pump’s operation could gradually cause it to move or tilt. Alternatively, if the pump wasn’t properly secured when it was installed, it could shift position over time.
When the pump shifts, it might cause the float (the device that rises with the water level to trigger the switch) to become hung up, obstructed or jammed. This could prevent the switch from activating when it should, meaning the pump won’t start up when water levels rise. Conversely, it could also prevent the switch from deactivating, causing the pump to run continuously even when it’s not needed, which could lead to wear and tear on the pump.
Addressing a stuck switch usually involves adjusting the position of the pump to ensure it’s sitting correctly within the basin and isn’t likely to shift in the future. This might involve securing the pump more firmly or adding a sturdy platform for it to sit on. It’s also important to regularly clean out the sump pit to remove any debris or sediment that could interfere with the switch.
In some cases, if the switch is continually getting stuck or is failing to operate correctly, it might be necessary to replace it entirely. This should typically be done by a professional to ensure that the new switch is installed correctly and will operate as expected.
As your sump pump ages, its efficiency can decrease. This can lead to the pump running more frequently or for longer periods. Over time, this can cause the pump’s components to fail, leading to a breakdown.
An inefficient or failing sump pump can pose a serious risk to your home. If the pump fails during a heavy rainstorm or rapid thaw, for example, it could result in significant water damage. Therefore, if your sump pump is nearing or has passed the ten-year mark, it may be time to consider replacing it.
When considering whether to replace your sump pump, it’s also important to look for signs of potential problems. These can include unusual noises, the pump constantly running, or water not being effectively removed from the sump pit. If you notice any of these signs, it’s best to consult with a professional as soon as possible.
Proper sump pump installation in St. Louis is critical to the it’s function and longevity. Incorrect installation can cause the pump to cycle on and off constantly. Even worse, poor installation can prevent the pump from running at all.
Installing the pump in the wrong location can cause operational problems. The pump needs to be in a spot where it can efficiently collect and discharge water. If it’s too far from the drainage area or if it’s not on a level surface, it may not function optimally.
Another common problem is failing to install a backup sump pump. Without a backup pump or battery system, your primary pump will not function during these crucial times, putting your home at risk of flooding.
Lastly, improper installation can also result in a malfunctioning check valve. This one-way valve prevents water that’s been pumped out from flowing back into the sump pit. If this valve isn’t working correctly, your pump may have to work harder than necessary, leading to premature wear and tear.
Ensuring that your sump pump is installed correctly is critical to avoiding these and other potential problems. Therefore, we highly recommend that installation is carried out by a professional or strictly according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
If you’re experiencing any issues with your sump pump or are considering installing a new one, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at Stratum Structural Systems. As experts in St. Louis sump pump repair, we have the knowledge and experience to ensure your pump is installed correctly and functioning optimally. Don’t wait until a small problem becomes a big one. Contact us today for all your sump pump needs.