Sump Pump Runs Every 30 Seconds? (Causes & Quick Fixes)

Nick Durante
by Nick Durante

Sump pumps are a fixture in houses with basements. They help to get rid of, or pump out, excess water, and protect your basement and the rest of your home from flooding. Your sump pump is only supposed to run when water causes the float switch to trip. If your sump pump is running every 30 seconds, that could indicate that something is wrong.

There could possibly be a fault in your basement foundation that is trapping water causing the pump to run every 30 seconds. If your sump pump is running every 30 seconds, it could also be due to a broken underground water main.

Other issues include a sump pump that is overwhelmed, frozen, clogged, and a litany of other things. Let’s explore some of the possible causes for your sump pump running every 30 seconds. This will help you to figure out what’s wrong, and possibly fix the issue on your own.

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Why Do Sump Pumps Stop Working Or Run Improperly?

Sump pumps are mechanical devices. Anything mechanical will eventually have a malfunction given enough time. They also have a power source that could fail, making the pump itself fail. In some cases, they are just poorly designed and built cheaply.

To put it simply there are so many different reasons that a sump pump may fail to work or work correctly that it is hard to make a broad designation. There are specific problems for specific instances to be aware of.

Sounds Like It’s Working But There Is No Water In The Sump Pit

If there is no water in the sump pump, it has likely been installed incorrectly or it isn’t linked up to a drainage system. The pump works best when there is drain tile that has been installed internally or externally around the perimeter of the basement.

This drainage system should be able to collect any water and then channel it down into the pump, allowing it to discharge down into the pit. A collapse, clog, or improper installation of the drain tile will mean that the water won’t be able to divert properly.

In this case, you may need to call in a professional to both inspect the system and fix it. If there is no drainage system in place, one will need to be installed before the sump pump can work properly.

Possible Causes

Though there are other reasons why the sump pump may be running frequently, there is a common culprit attached to this specific error. Most of the time, it is because the pump is sitting below the natural water table.

When this happens, you can usually raise the pump so that the water will need to reach a different level before the pump will kick on. Unfortunately, this may not work at times, but it bears trying. There are also some very common causes for why your sump pump may not be working properly if at all.

Downgrade Around Your Foundation

If there is a negative downgrade around your foundation, it can lead to water problems. You want water to be directed away from your home, not towards it. When water does reach your home, the sump pump’s job is to get rid of it.

However, if there is a downgrade causing water to slide in and stay trapped within the foundation, that is a problem. That can cause your sump pump to run every 30 seconds.


Unfortunately, the solution to a foundation problem causing sump pump overactivity is an expensive one. What you need to do is have your foundation built back up to keep water out.

Foundation repairs cost $4,000 or more in many cases. However, if it is only a matter of a crack allowing water to seep through, it may cost you $500 to $700.

If you are able to have a contractor fix your foundation to keep the water out, your sump pump should stop running constantly.

The Pump Is Overwhelmed

A single pump may not be enough to handle a major event in your basement. It is trying its best, but it simply can’t keep up with the amount of water that is entering the basement. Of course, the quality of the sump pump can come into play, too. If you go cheap, it will likely fail or burn out when you need it.

If the pump becomes overwhelmed, you may need to upgrade it. Adding a battery backup can also help to keep it moving in the event of a power outage. Depending on how heavy the rain is in your particular area, it might be a good idea to install a second sump pump, one in the opposite corner to the first.

Underground Water Source

While this is largely out of your control, underground water sources can cause your sump pump to run like crazy as well. Underground water sources are more common than you may think, and when they flow, they can affect the surrounding homes.

When water seeps in from an underground water source, it will cause your sump pump to run. If your sump pump is running every 30 seconds and there is no apparent reason, ask your neighbors or realtor if they are aware of any underground water sources.


Unfortunately, there is no solution to your endlessly running sump pump if it is caused by an underground water source. The good news is that water sources of all kinds go through phases.

It is rare for an underground water source to flow year round. You will need to brace for your sump pump running every 30 seconds during seasons like spring or summer where there is more rainfall.

The Float Switch Is Jammed

Sump pumps that don’t have a lid tend to not only get dirty, they will clog up over time. This can lead to the pump not only clogging slowly; it may wind up not draining at all. Worst of all, the sump pump can clog in a bunch of ways so it may take some time to identify the issue.

The sump pit can become clogged with debris and dirt. The mechanical parts can get dirty, especially if the sump is sitting up against the dirty pit where all the muck is building. The float switch (which turns the pump off and on) can become jammed or clogged.

Check the various pieces of your sump pump in the event that a clog or jam has occurred. Simply cleaning the impacted area can be enough to get things working again. But if that buildup has permeated for too long, it could wind up damaging one of the parts and require a replacement.

Damaged Irrigation System

If your irrigation sprinkler system is damaged, it will cause water to constantly seep through the ground and into your drainage system. When a sprinkler system becomes damaged, the water can keep running with nowhere to go but down.

Unfortunately for your sump pump, that means it will have to work twice as hard to keep removing the water.


The solution for a damaged irrigation system can be quite costly. In fact, replacing or repairing a damaged sprinkler system can cost as much as $3,000.

Unfortunately, there is no way around having to spend big when it comes to having your sprinkler system repaired or replaced entirely.

Broken Sewer Line

If a sewer line breaks beneath your home, it will naturally cost water to work its way up to your house. That will result in your sump pump running as often as every 30 seconds in many cases.

Luckily, broken sewer lines often do not fall upon the homeowner when it comes to repairs.


Get in touch with the local water company. In today’s world, broken sewer lines are the responsibility of the water company that operates them.

While it is a major inconvenience for you, at the very least the cost will not land on you as a homeowner. Once the water company in question gets the damaged sewer line repaired, your sump pump should stop running every 30 seconds.

The Check Valve Is Either Broken Or Missing

A below grade installation can mean that the discharge line is running at an awkward angle. The check line is crucial to the process of dispelling the water from your sump pump and out of your home.

When the check valve is broken or missing, you can wind up seeing one-third or as much as two-thirds of that water flowing back into the pit. This will wind up overworking your sump pump, eventually breaking it down and resulting in excess water building up in your basement.

If your pump is running continuously but not properly draining the water, take a look at the check valve. It may need replacing in order to ensure that your pump is working properly. Do this as soon as you can; if the pit takes on too much water there could be damage done to the basement and foundation of your home.


Luckily, check valves can be replaced when they become damaged or worn out. In fact, they typically only cost between $15 and $25.

If you put in a brand new check valve and your sump pump continues to run every 30 seconds, that means that something else is wrong.

Discharge Lines That Have Frozen or Clogged

Sump pumps will get rid of the water they collect through the discharge lines. So, it only makes sense that, should the discharge line fail, the entire system will fail. Make sure that your discharge lines are free of debris and covered properly.

The discharge lines need to be clear so that they can transfer water out of your basement and as far away from the foundation as possible. Not only will this keep water from damaging the foundation, it will prevent freezing during the winter.

Loss Of Power

Your sump pump needs power in order to operate. When the power goes out, it can leave your basement in a vulnerable position. A real double whammy is when a storm knocks out the power and then floods your basement.

If you are getting a new sump pump, invest in one that has a battery backup. Power outages can and will happen. Keep your basement and foundation protected by ensuring that the sump pump won’t go down when the power does.

Liner Or Sump Pump Is Too Small Or Big

If you have a smaller sump pump, it just might not be enough to do the job properly. This will cause the pit to fill up faster and the sump pump will have to work overtime to compensate. This is what is known as a short-cycling pump.

Why Does My Sump Pump Run Every 30 Seconds In Cold Weather?

During cold weather, your sump pump may run more often due to the drainage line literally freezing. If that happens, there are a few steps that you need to take to fix it. First things first, be sure to turn off the power to the sump pump. We have some steps you can take to fix this.

Add Heat

It sounds obvious, but it really works. Any heat source that you can easily get near the drainage line should work. Your best bet is to position a space heater facing towards the drainage line.

Sometimes, however, the line is frozen much further down the line. In that case, you’ll need to try something else.

Drain The Water And Remove The Drainage Line

If you have a wet vacuum, use it to drain the water from the sump pit. Once you have done that, use a screwdriver to unfasten the drainage line and remove it.

Boiling Water Does The Trick

Boil a pot of water. Carefully pour the boiling water down the drainage line. The ice in the line should be quickly and easily thawed out by the boiling water.

After thawing the ice out, carefully reattach the drainage line. When you are done, turn the power to the sump pump back on to see how it runs.

Do You Need Sump Pump Repair or Replacement?

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Summing It Up

Your sump pump running every 30 seconds is not a terrible thing, but it is a sign that something could be wrong. It could be something as simple as a jammed float switch causing the pump to run endlessly, or something as costly as a damaged sprinkler system.

Foundation problems can cost up to $4,000, but often times sump pumps continually running is something as simple as a frozen line. When your sump pump is running every 30 seconds, carefully inspect it. You should be able to identify the problem on your own. Refer to the above guide to help diagnose your sump pump’s problem as well figure out how to resolve the problem.

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Nick Durante
Nick Durante

Nick Durante is a professional writer with a primary focus on home improvement. When he is not writing about home improvement or taking on projects around the house, he likes to read and create art. He is always looking towards the newest trends in home improvement.

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