If you have a basement, it is vital to have a sump pump to prevent flooding. However, a sump pump can seem to be more trouble than it’s worth. One common problem that many Rockwall homeowners face is when their home’s sump pump keeps turning on and off without explanation. If you’re trying to figure out if something is wrong with your system, let the experts at Sunrise Plumbing provide some information to help give you some peace of mind.

Sump Pump Operation

Sump pumps remove excess water from under your home’s foundation by pumping it through a pipe that connects to the main house drain. To do this, a sump pump uses a floating arm that moves up and down as the water level in the sump well rises and falls. The sump well is simply a hole in the ground that descends below the lowest point of your home’s foundation so that any excess moisture will accumulate in this area. When the sump pump is operating correctly, your basement will stay dry so that you don’t have to deal with excess mold growth.

Heavy Rain

If your system is turning on and off frequently, but it’s raining heavily outside, there’s likely no reason to worry. In fact, this means it’s doing its job to keep your home dry. You will especially notice this phenomenon if it rains for multiple days non-stop. This is because a longer period of rain guarantees that the rain will soak through the soil and below your home’s foundation. Even during short-lived torrential downpours, though, your system will power on and off more frequently than usual.

Poor Foundation Drainage

Although your sump pump can help keep your basement dry during a storm, it’s still important to have proper foundation drainage to prevent damage. If your home’s gutters don’t properly divert water away from your home’s foundation, you will instead be diverting excess water next to the foundation every time it rains. This could trigger your sump pump to power on and off more than usual, because you are diverting water directly to the sump pump’s drain field. It’s important to inspect your gutters as well, to ensure they are working in tandem with your system to protect your home.

Bad Check Valve

Your sump pump resides at one of the lowest points in your home. This means that any drains used by the pump to remove water from under the foundation are higher in elevation than the pump. If it weren’t for an in-line check valve in the drain line coming out of your sump pump, all of the water that your sump pump removes would ultimately end up back in the sump well. The check valve, which acts as a one-way trap door for water, will sometimes begin to deteriorate. When this happens, small amounts of water will come back into the sump well, requiring the sump pump to re-engage. Since this happens right after a pumping cycle, your pump may turn on and off several times before it removes enough water to lower the float arm. By replacing the check valve, you can restore your sump pump to normal operation.

Broken Float Arm

The float arm is a small metal rod that’s attached to the trigger switch on your sump pump. On the end of the metal rod is a small plastic float that’s filled with air. This allows the float arm to rise and fall as the amount of water in the sump well increases and decreases. Sometimes, the float component can develop small cracks that allow small amounts of water into the float. This will increase the weight of the float to the point that it can no longer detect the current water level. At just the right buoyancy, the float may begin to rise and fall on its own, even if the water level in the sump well stays the same. This can cause your sump pump to turn on and off multiple times. You can often find replacement floats for sump pumps so that you don’t have to replace the entire pump.

Faulty Pump Base

When your sump pump is operating, there will be noticeable vibration. That’s because the motor inside the pump has to spin an impeller at high speeds so that your pump can move water from the sump well to a drain that’s at a higher elevation. Most of the time, these vibrations aren’t a problem. However, if your pump is sitting on a faulty pump base, there’s a good chance you’ll eventually experience unusual pump operation. For example, if your pump sits on a concrete block at the bottom of the sump well, the pump may eventually vibrate to the side of the block and fall off. This will put your pump at an unusual angle as it sits half-on and half-off its base. This will also prevent your float arm from operating properly. This situation will either cause your pump to run constantly or to run more frequently than usual. The professionals at Sunrise Plumbing can design a sump well that will protect your sump pump from its own vibrations.

Dying Pump

In some cases, your sump pump may begin turning on and off if it’s in its final days of operation. Most sump pumps only have an expected lifespan of about ten years, so if it’s been about that long and your sump pump is doing strange things, it’s best to have a technician perform an inspection or suggest a replacement suitable for your home. Rather than seeing how many years you can get out of a sump pump, it’s best to replace your pump before it goes out so that you don’t end up with a flooded basement.

Incorrect Drain Routing

In a perfect world, your sump pump will only need to pump groundwater that accumulates under your home’s foundation. However, you’ll sometimes run across some do-it-yourself plumbing hacks that route other drain lines from your home into the sump well. While this is illegal because of the risk of groundwater contamination, it’s still something that the plumbers at Sunrise Plumbing see from time to time. If a washing machine, dishwasher, sink, or other fixture in your home drains into the sump well, you’ll definitely notice that your sump pump operates more often than it should. For these reasons and more, it’s important to have this issue corrected as soon as possible.


At Sunrise Plumbing in Rockwall, TX, we are always happy to help our customers when their home’s plumbing systems aren’t operating properly. Whether it’s sump pump repair, water heater replacement, water heater installation, tankless water heaters, drain cleaning, leak detection, or one of our many other services, we always serve our customers with pride and excellence. Our commitment to professionalism is one reason why we are able to maintain an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and consistently receive five-star reviews. We also have promotions and financing. To learn more about your home’s sump pump, visit our website or give us a call today.

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