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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Sump Pump Flooded Basement - Causes & What To Do

12/1/2020 (Permalink)

sump pump in basement with water in sump pit Sump pump failures can flood your entire basement.

Reasons your sump pump may cause a flooded basement in Old Saybrook and what you should do when it happens.

Many basements have sump pumps installed because it is prone to flooding. Basement flooding is usually due to hydrostatic pressure, or in simpler terms groundwater forcing its way into your basement. Sump pumps help prevent this by sensing rising water levels or pressure. Once water reaches the float switch and activates it, the pump will automatically turn on and pump excess water away from your property using a discharge line.

While these are a great defense against basement flooding, there is still the chance of a sump pump failure for a long list of reasons that causes a flood. Here, we will review why and what to do when your sump pump fails.

Why Do Sump Pumps Fail?

Power Loss

Many pumps need a power source or else they will not turn on. Its possible that during a strong storm (when you would need your pump most) that the power will go out. When groundwater rises from the storm, the pump will not be able to turn on and cause your basement or crawlspace to flood.

There are other times where homeowners have unplugged their pumps to clean them out, but forgotten to plug them back in. These cases are unfortunately and will also lead to a flooded basement when groundwater rises.

What to do: If your basement needs a pump to prevent flooding, be sure to invest in a backup sump pump. Battery backup pumps will still work when a fuse blows or a storm causes a power outage.

Overwhelmed Pump

If you notice that your pump is not efficiently working and your basement is still wet or flooding, you may have an overwhelmed pump. Sometimes one pump isn't enough to handle the volume of water entering the basement especially during a heavy rainstorm.

What to do: Depending on your basement, you may need a higher quality pump or even more than one pump located at separate corners of the basement. This should stop one pump from working overtime and keep your basement dry.

Clogged Pumps and Float Switches

Over time, pumps may become dirty and collect debris that will cause the pump to work less efficiently or stop working altogether. Dirt and debris in the sump pit will cause other components of the pump to also become clogged or dirty. This can be a huge problem when the float switch, which turns the pump on and off, becomes clogged. A dirty sump pump will very likely cause your basement to flood.

Another cause for a clogged pump can be the impeller. The impeller filters debris from the water pump, helping to keep it clean and clear. When this filter is clogged, it may make a strange noise or prevent the pump from running - or cause other components to become clogged as well.

What to do: Make sure that your pump has a airtight sealed lid to help prevent debris from getting into it. Have it inspected every so often to be sure it doesn't need to be cleaned, repaired, or replaced before it is too late.

Sump Pump Running Non-Stop

When pumps run nonstop, it can start to overheat and breakdown, especially when there is not any water in the sump pit to naturally cool the system as it works. Pumps usually run non stop because there is a stuck float switch stuck in the on position. This issue can also be contributed to water not exiting through your discharge line and repeatedly flowing back to the sump pump, causing it to turn on over and over again.

What to do: In these cases, there are a few different things you could do. For a stuck float switch, you may have to clean out the pump or replace it with a new switch. If water continually flows back to your sump pump from the discharge pipe, you can install a check valve that will prevent water from flowing back to the pump and turning it on.


Sump pumps need to be replaced every 7-10 years depending on how much they are used. When your pump is old, it can simply fail due to old age. At some point, every pump motor will burn out and no longer turn on.

What to do: Pay attention to how long your pump has been installed for and look out for signs that it may be on its way out. Signs your sump pump will soon need to be replaced are loud noises such as rattling, clanging, or screaming motors. The pump constantly running can also be a sign that it needs to be replaced.

Common Questions

How do you know if the sump pump is not working?

The answer to this question may be very obvious, but you can usually assume your pump is working if it does not overflow and your basement doesn't flood during heavy rainstorms. You are not supposed to hear your pump loudly running from your living space, so don't expect to hear it turn on every time.

Can I unplug my sump pump?

Yes, you can unplug your sump pump for a short amount of time so long as your remember to plug it back in. Many homeowners unplug it to inspect and clean it - but you must not forget to plug it back in.

Does insurance cover sump pump failures?

Unless you purchase special coverage for your pump, the cleanup for its failure will not be covered by your insurance company. This is because the water that enters the basement is groundwater, which is traditionally not covered unless you have supplemental coverage.

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