For most of us, our sump pump is the only thing keeping the basement dry. Sometimes, we get anxious when it’s been running well for too long and start thinking that things are about to go bad. The end result — we end up buying a replacement when we don’t really have to. So…
How do we know if we need to replace our sump pump?
1. Abnormal sound and vibrations
If your sump pump has run for a long time with weird noise and vibrations, for whatever reason, there’s a good chance that the bearings have somehow been affected and damaged.
Water contamination on the lubricating oil is a common cause for bad bearings specially when it comes to submersible pumps. Extreme temperatures may also prevent proper lubrication which may eventually lead to the same result.
Other causes of abnormal vibration include shaft misalignment and impeller damage. Anything that can cause an imbalance in the rotation of the motor will result in high vibration.
2. Water inside the motor housing
Water contamination is deadly to a motor and even a small amount can cause a lot of damage. The most common reasons include worn-out gaskets, failed seals, and corrosion. You probably won’t notice this problem until the motor has failed to run but when you do, you should look for a replacement immediately.
3. Severe corrosion
Corrosion can cause a myriad of problems to a sump pump. Serious amounts of it will negatively affect the pump performance and may cause permanent damage to the pump.
When the buildup is so severe, it can completely block the water intake resulting in your basement flooding.
If you’re prone to corrosion problems, you may want to consider switching to a thermoplastic pump to virtually eliminate any chance of corrosion. If you’re not comfortable using them, at least choose a high quality cast iron sump pump that’s coated well to prevent it.
4. Weakened pump capacity
If you notice that the pump seems to be running longer than it used to even though the amount of water coming to the pit is the same, you may have a problem.
Check if your outlet voltage is okay. Undervoltage can cause the pump to run at a lower capacity than designed. If it’s way below 110V, you should contact your electrician.
If the voltage is okay, there may be a problem with the motor or the impeller. An eroded impeller will have shorter blades resulting in less capacity. It’s possible to have it restored but getting a new pump would make more sense.
5. Failed motor
Motors are sensitive and can fail for hundreds of reasons. Frequent cycling, moisture exposure, and insulation degradation are just some of the more common ones.
If your pump is new, you can have it checked but make sure the fees are way below what it would cost to buy a new one.
6. Improperly sized
An improperly sized pump is just as dangerous as a pump that’s out of shape. If it’s running all the time even before the rainy weather, it will have trouble keeping the water down when the rain comes.
Make sure to have it replaced before you start hating yourself thanks to a flooded basement.
7. Long standby period
A pump that hasn’t run for a long time will get out of shape. The lubricating oil for the bearing will eventually run down after some time and might cause overheating when it runs.
The switch may stick and fail to function properly. Or perhaps, the sediment will solidify and clog the pump.
To avoid that, best practice for maintaining a healthy sump pump is filling up the sump pit with your garden hose once or twice a month to exercise the pump.
The water will trigger the switch and cause the pump to run exercising the pump components. With this, you also notice other potential problems before it’s too late.
8. More than 7 years old
Older pumps, specially those that run frequently, will have worn parts that are prone to failure. Free yourself from worry by having it replaced in advance.
At 7 years or more, you’ve definitely got your money’s worth for the pump. It’s best to take those gains before you lose a lot more from a flooded basement.
What’s the best replacement for my sump?
If your pump lasted long enough, you can get the same model as before. Check the nameplate at the side of the pump for the model number. If it didn’t, check out our review of the best submersible sump pumps.
If you’re looking for more protection, check out our guide on how to backup sump pumps where we diss the best ways how to protect your home when things go wrong. Or you can also go straight to our review on combination sump pump systems.