Installing a sump pump is a great way to prevent your basement from flooding during the rainy season. You might notice that the pump runs for a particularly long time after heavy rain, but how long is considered normal?
A sump pump will run for 2 or 3 days after heavy rainfall, turning on and off as needed to prevent motor damage. Smaller pumps will typically run longer as they’re less efficient. However, a sump pump can only run without stopping for a maximum of 24 hours.
In this article, I’ll explain how long you can expect your sump pump to run after heavy rainfall and what to do if you think it’s running too long. I’ll also cover what you should look out for, so you can ensure that the motor doesn’t get damaged.
Is It Normal for a Sump Pump To Run Constantly After Heavy Rain?
It’s normal for continuous-duty sump pumps to run constantly after heavy rainfall. Intermittent-duty pumps can run on and off for a few days to prevent a waterlogged basement.
Heavy rainfall means that the sump pump needs to move larger volumes of water, which takes a long time and considerable energy.
The sump pump’s role is to prevent water damage to a house’s basement and other underground areas.
However, different types and models will handle the task differently.
There are two main types of sump pumps available in today’s market:
- Continuous-duty: These pumps usually have a larger motor capable of running for longer periods without incurring serious damage. They will continue to run until all the water is pumped up and out of your home’s underground area.
- Intermittent-duty: Because this is typically a smaller motor, the motor may get damaged if it runs for a very long time. Depending on the motor’s power rating, it will run and stop at regular intervals until the entire water volume is pumped.
Note that intermittent-duty sump pumps take considerably longer to pump out the same water volume.
This means the pump might run for up to 3 days, turning off as needed to rest the motor.
On the other hand, the larger models will constantly run until the task is completed in a shorter period.
Related article: Which Is Better Sump Pump Or French Drain?
How Do I Stop My Sump Pump From Constantly Running?
You can stop your sump pump from constantly running by unplugging it, cleaning the sump pit, and checking the float switch. Also, ensure that nothing is clogged, as this prevents the pump’s motor from burning out due to continuous operation.
If you feel your sump pump is needlessly running constantly, or if the noise is a nuisance, you can stop the pump from running.
The following is a detailed guide on what to do:
1. Cut the Power to the Sump Pump
The first step is to unplug the pump because, without a power source connection, it will stop running almost immediately.
If you don’t have access to the sump pump’s power cord, you can turn off the power from the main switch and continue with the steps below.
2. Clean and Unclog the Pump
During heavy rainstorms, dirt, and debris can clog gutters, sump pits, and other plumbing connected to the sump pump.
Often, the pump constantly runs because the debris causes it to work inefficiently.
Once you’ve disconnected the sump pump from its power source, you can clean up the water and dirt in the sump pit.
Before doing this and to avoid flooding, ensure that no one in your home is running water while the pump is disconnected.
The next steps involve a lot of labor, and you should consider wearing heavy-duty gloves.
You may also consider wearing a mask to avoid breathing in strong odors.
To clean and unclog the pump, follow the steps below:
- Remove the pump and place it in a bucket.
- Move the sump pump outside and use a garden hose or pressure washer (on low setting) to remove the dirt and debris.
- Use a wet vacuum to pump the water inside the sump pit.
- Remove the brick weighing down the sump pit.
- Scrape out the sludge and soap residue from the soapy water in the drainage system that your house shares with the pit.
- Clear away the dirt before replacing the brick and sump pump.
- Once you’re sure everything is clean, reconnect the pump and use your household faucets and water sources as normal.
Related Article: Where Should My Sump Pump Drain To?
3. Inspect the Float Switch
Sump pumps are usually automatically turned on and off via a float switch, a floating device that conveys the level of liquid (water in this case) inside a tank. If this switch is malfunctioning, the pump might operate as if there’s more water, even if the pit is empty.
Even if the float switch is still in good condition, it might have moved from its correct position due to the constant vibration of the pump’s motor. Inspect the float switch and check if it’s jammed higher than it should be.
Return it to its usual place, and the pump should start working normally.
If the float switch is broken, you’ll need to replace it. It’s a simple procedure for piggy-back type float switches.
However, I recommend calling a professional if your sump pump is fitted with a shunt plug-style float switch.
Here’s how to replace a piggyback float switch on your sump pump:
- Unplug the sump pump, and remove it from the sump pit.
- Mark the placement of the damaged float switch.
- Unplug the piggyback switch.
- Loosen the screw holding the switch clamp.
- Remove and set aside the old switch and the clamp.
- Measure the space between the float and the old clamp, so you can match the new clamp’s distance.
- Screw the clamp and switch.
- Reconnect the piggyback switch, put the pump back, and reconnect it.
- Run the pump to ensure it is working properly.
4. Restart the Sump Pump
You can now restart the pump and check if it stops running under normal conditions.
In most cases, cleaning the sump pit and inspecting it should be enough.
If there’s no more water in the sump pit, and you’ve checked the float switch, the pump should stop running constantly.
Otherwise, call a professional to see if you need to replace the pump.
Safety Precautions and Things To Look Out For
Although a sump pump is a simple water pump with a specialized purpose, handling it can be tricky.
Below are some important safety precautions to remember:
- The sump pump’s capacity should match your plumbing system’s size. Larger homes require larger pumps to avoid constant pump operation.
- Never attempt to clean the sump pump or pit while connected to a power source.
- Inspect your sump pump regularly, especially before the rainy season and in high-risk areas.
- Any change in the sump pump’s noise level indicates something is wrong—usually that it’s clogged.
It’s normal for your sump pump to run for a long time after it rains heavily, as there’s a larger water volume to be pumped.
There’s no reason to worry as long as the float switch is intact and the motor functions properly.
You can stop your sump pump if most of the water has already been pumped and the rain has stopped.
If there’s still a lot of water in the sump pit, leave the pump running until it finishes the job.