The most common kind of pump that you will find in your basement is called a sump pump. The purpose of the sump pump is to pump groundwater away from your home’s drain tile system. It resides in a sump basket (or tank) on the floor of your basement.

The sump basket is about the size of a medium garbage can, but you do not see it because most of it is installed underground. The top of it is usually twenty to twenty-four inches and does not have to be sealed airtight. The cover has a pipe leading out of the top of it that connects the pump.

How do they work?

The pump has a device inside of it to detect when to turn on. As groundwater rises in the sump basket, the device will trigger the sump pump to turn on. Once it is turned on, it will pump the water up and out of the horizontal pipe into your yard and away from your house.

If your pump is not working, the water will continue to rise and start to flood your basement.

How long do they last?

According to American Family Insurance, you should expect to get 10 years out of your sump pump. Even if yours is 10 years old, it is recommended that you replace it every 10 years as they are relatively inexpensive compared to the damage they can cause when they fail.

What to do if your Sump Pump quits working

If you have a sump pump in your house, you should check it occasionally to see if there is water collecting in the sump basket that is not being pumped out. If the water level is rising and not being pumped out:

  • Check to see if the pump is getting power. If there is a reset button, check to see if that button has popped out. If it has popped, push the button back in. If there is a circuit breaker or fuse box in your house make sure the circuit hasn’t tripped or the fuse hasn’t blown. If it has tripped, flip the switch back or replace the fuse.
  • Check to see that the float device is not tangled up in the cords inside of the pump housing. There are two basic kinds of switching devices in sump pumps. The more common one has a mercury switch that is activated by a float. When it floats high enough, it will tell the sump pump to turn on. The second kind has lift rods with a float and when they rise high enough, they activate the switch to turn on the pump. These are generally on a pedestal pump. In a pedestal-type pump, the motor is not submerged but rather is up above the sump basket.

Once you have assured that there is no power going to the sump pump and either you cannot determine what the float is, or you can see the float and determine that it is floating and the sump pump switch is still not turning on, it is time to call a professional plumber.

Who Fixes Sump Pumps?

To fix a sump pump, it is best to call a plumber earlier rather than later as you do not know how fast the water might be rising. If a plumber cannot get to you right away and you are worried about the water level rising too quickly you can rent or buy a small utility pump.

Use this pump with a garden hose attached to temporarily pump the excess water outside. It is best to pump the water out of the house. If you cannot get the hose outside, you can pump the water into a floor drain or a utility sink in your basement.

If you are having a problem with your sump pump or are just looking for a quality plumber in the St. Paul/Minneapolis metro area, give St Paul Pipeworks a call today.

Yours Truly,
Matthew Dettwiler
Social Media Manager

FAQs – Sump Pumps

Q: What are sump pumps used for?

Answer: Sump pumps are used to pump groundwater away from your home’s drain tile system. They are typically installed in a sump basket in the basement floor, helping prevent flooding by removing excess water from the vicinity of your house.

Q: How do sump pumps work?

Answer: Sump pumps have a device inside that detects rising groundwater in the sump basket. When triggered, the pump turns on and expels the water through a horizontal pipe, directing it away from the house. This mechanism helps avoid basement flooding.

Q: How long do sump pumps last?

Answer: According to American Family Insurance, you can expect about 10 years of service from a sump pump. However, it is recommended to replace them every 10 years, considering their relatively low cost compared to potential damages caused by failure.

Q: What should I do if my sump pump is not working?

Answer: If your sump pump is not pumping water, check for power supply issues. Ensure the reset button (if present) is pushed in, check circuit breakers or fuses, and inspect the float device for any entanglements. If issues persist, it’s advisable to call a professional plumber.

Q: My Sump Pump is running and it is below freezing. Is this normal?

Answer: It is not abnormal for a sump pump to run during freezing temperatures. However, it is important to ensure that the discharge pipe is directed away from the house and does not freeze over. If necessary, consider using a de-icing cable or heat tape to prevent freezing.

Q: Who fixes sump pumps?

Answer: For sump pump repairs, it’s best to call a professional plumber promptly. If immediate assistance is unavailable, you can use a small utility pump with a garden hose to temporarily remove excess water. However, for a lasting solution, consulting a qualified plumber like St Paul Pipeworks is recommended for those in the St. Paul/Minneapolis metro area.

What Is a Sump Pump Used For?