Sump Pump Not Working And Basement Flooded? (Fix It Now!)

Jessica Stone
by Jessica Stone

The main reason for a sump pump is to prevent your basement from flooding. So, when your sump pump is not working and your basement is flooded, this can be a really frustrating issue to tackle. Unfortunately, you don’t have to live near a body of water to experience flooding. The combination of a heavy rainstorm and a sump pump that stops working can cause flooding in your basement.

Sump pump failure is a common problem among homeowners, but most don’t realize the issue until it’s already too late. There are numerous reasons that a sump pump might fail – whether you’ve experienced a power failure during a storm and don’t have a battery backup, your sump pump is the wrong size and can’t keep up, or it was improperly installed in the first place.

Regardless, we’ve outlined exactly what you need to do if your sump pump has failed and you have water in your basement. The following list of common reasons for sump pump failure will also help you correct the issue and ensure that your sump pump is there for you when you need it most.

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What to Do When Your Sump Pump Has Failed

When your sump pump stops working, it’s time for you to step up to the plate. With an inactive pump, you’re inevitably going to have water entering your basement. If it’s a manageable amount of water, you can mop it up, put it in a bucket, and deposit it at least 20 feet away from your home. The quicker that you can get the water out of your basement, the better.

The longer that you allow the excess water to stand in your basement, the more damage it’ll cause. This will result in an ideal environment for mold and mildew to grow, and stain your walls, damage your furnishings, and cause an unpleasant, musty odor. If you own a wet/dry vacuum, this will help take care of this task. A 5 to 10 gallon wet/ dry vacuum is ideal for this situation.

Though, if you have a power outage, you won’t be able to use your vacuum. Instead, you can remove the water using a hand pump. Simply place the hand pump into the sump pump hole, attach a garden hose to the threaded end of the pump, and run the hose outside. If the hose does not reach at least 20 feet, you’ll need to drain the water into buckets and then carry them away from your house to dump.

Addressing Serious Basement Flooding

If you are experiencing serious flooding in your basement, you may need a trash-water pump. This device is a portable powerhouse that has the ability to pump out large amounts of water, even if it contains soft solids. It is gas-fueled and can remove thousands of gallons of water an hour. If you don’t already own this device, here are your options for dealing with substantial flooding in your basement:

  • Hire a professional water removal team to pump the water out of your basement. Keep in mind, though, that if there’s widespread flooding in your area, they may not be able to reach you for several days.
  • You can rent the necessary equipment from a local hardware or home improvement center. Again, if there’s extensive flooding in your area, there may be a high demand for these items.

While it’s crucial that you get the water out of your basement as soon as possible, if the flooding has left water around your foundation, you cannot pump efficiently until the water recedes. Even after all of the water is removed from your basement, it’s still highly advised that you replace the drywall and carpet to prevent mold growth.

Common Reasons for Sump Pump Failure

There are a number of reasons that may have caused your sump pump to fail and result in flooding in your basement. Fortunately, when problems arise with sump pumps, you can usually detect and repair the issue on your own. That said, consider the following most common reasons why sump pumps fail:

1. Power Outage

One of the most common reasons that sump pumps stop working is due to a power outage. If your home loses power, your sump pump is not going to work no matter how much water is getting into your basement. So, before you consider any other possible causes, make sure that your pump is receiving power.

A tripped circuit breaker or a cord that simply got unplugged is an easy fix. However, a power outage caused by a storm can last for hours or even days. If your basement gets flooded on a regular basis caused by power outages, consider purchasing a generator or a backup battery sump pump system. Either option will keep the water flowing out of your home until power is restored.

If you already have a backup system installed and your sump pump is still not getting power, check the water level of the backup system. If needed, add distilled water. If you have no luck with that, the batteries may need replacing.

2. Clogged Pump

Clogs and jams are another common cause of sump pump failure. There are numerous things that can cause your sump pump to become clogged, including:

  • Dirt and other forms of debris in the pit.
  • The pump’s components may be dirty, which causes the motor to clog as the pit accumulates with debris.
  • If the water level rises, the power switch can jam.
  • Lower quality models can jam as they turn on or off with the water fluctuations in the pit.

Start by checking for debris in the sump put by opening the lid. Inspect for anything that may be causing a clog and remove what you can. To prevent debris from accumulating, make sure that the pit is appropriately covered at all times.

3. Clogged Discharge Lines

The way a sump pump works is that it moves water out of your basement through discharge lines, which allows the water to drain away from your home. If these lines are clogged, twisted, or frozen, the only place the water has to go is back into your basement.

Make sure that these lines are always kept straight and free of grass, leaves, and other debris. To prevent freezing, add insulation around these lines before temperatures drop.

4. Leaks in the Discharge Pipe

In addition to clogs, freezing, and twisting occurring with your discharge lines, they can also leak. You can visually inspect your sump pump’s discharge pipe for leakages. Look out for any signs of water where the pipe comes out of your home’s foundation. Leaks in the discharge line are another common cause of water backing up into your basement.

To prevent leaks, make sure you move these lines whenever you mow your lawn. Also, perform regular inspections to check for holes and cracks in the piping.

5. Overworked Pump

If your sump pump struggles to remove water during a heavy storm, or doesn’t remove it at all, consider when it was installed. If you don’t remember, or it was already installed when you bought the home, odds are that it is too old and starting to wear out. In this situation, your best bet is to invest in a new sump pump. This approach is much more affordable than having to pay for water damage restoration.

On the other hand, if you purchased your sump pump recently and it still struggles to keep up, it may not be strong enough or a cheap one was installed initially that doesn’t cut it. In this case, you’ll need to buy an additional sump pump or purchase a more powerful model. The best sump pumps are those that operate at high capacity and are made of cast iron.

6. Malfunctioning Float

Oftentimes, a float that is worn-out or malfunctioning is the reason that your sump pump fails. To test if this is the case, fill the sump pump with water. This should cause the sump pump to start on its own. If it doesn’t, you may need to replace the float.

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7. Improper Installation

It’s possible that your sump pump was never installed properly in the first place. If your sump pump seems to be working but there isn’t any water flowing to the pit, make sure you have drain tile or gravel surround installed around the perimeter of your basement. Drain tile helps collect the ground water that accumulates around your foundation and then funnels it to the sump pump.

If you have an older home, you may have a French Drain that operates similarly. Not having some sort of channel installed is a major issue. However, the channel itself can also become clogged or be installed at an improper angle that doesn’t allow the water to go where it should.

8. Clogged Impeller

Sump pumps are outfitted with a small filter known as an impeller. When your sump pump is no longer functioning as expected, it’s sometimes caused by a clogged impeller. In this case, cleaning or replacing the filter should correct the issue.

Jessica Stone
Jessica Stone

Jessica considers herself a home improvement and design enthusiast. She grew up surrounded by constant home improvement projects and owes most of what she knows to helping her dad renovate her childhood home. Being a Los Angeles resident, Jessica spends a lot of her time looking for her next DIY project and sharing her love for home design.

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