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Typical Sump Pump Repair Problems in Edmonton and How to Fix Them

There are plenty of options out there for repairing or replacing your sump pump. So many, in fact, that you might get a little bit lost with what it is that’s best for you and your Edmonton home. Not to worry, we’ve assembled this sump pump repair and replacement guide that’ll get you up to speed with everything that you need to know when making a decision about your sump pump.

What Your Sump Pump Does

Your sump pump is the super hero that guards your home against the flood villain. Basically, when large amounts of water get dangerously close to your home, your sump pump pushes them away to somewhere where they might be more welcome. Keep in mind that this does not mean rain alone, it includes the melting snow. Your sump pump lives in your basement or crawl space and you may recognize it as a pit in the floor with a pumping device, typically surrounded by water. This mechanism is usually connected to drain pipe around the exterior of your home that sends water into the pit or the soil around the pit is naturally saturated with water that has migrated towards your home. Once the water in the pit rises to a certain level, your sump pump is triggered through a floating switch mechanism and then pumps the water outside. The water’s destination tends to be out to your yard, ideally somewhere where it can naturally flow away. Regardless, it’s being pushed away from your home. Without the work of the sump pump, this water would press up against the foundation of your home eventually leading to cracks in the concrete and basement floods.

All sump pumps are not made equal and it may be difficult to navigate the decision of which sump pump to use in your home. You could certainly purchase one at a hardware store but keep in mind that without consulting a licensed plumber, you might be buying a product with a short life span ill suited for your home’s needs. One way to avoid this risk entirely is to purchase a professional sump pump system from a Mr. Rooter Plumbing Edmonton licensed plumber who will not only install it for you, but also guarantee all parts and workmanship.

Typical Problems You Might Encounter

We all know no device is built to last forever. The same goes for your sump pump - there’s no denying that it will fail over time. A sump pump’s lifespan won’t be identical from home to home because of various factors.

  • One is location - your home may experience a different level of elevation than a home down the street, for example. It is not uncommon to have side by side homes where one home’s sump pump seems to run constantly while the other rarely if ever needs to. This extra pumping can result in more water gathering around your home and force your sump pump to work harder which leads us to the next factor - usage.

  • The more your sump pump pushes water away from your home, the shorter its lifespan becomes.

  • This gets further magnified by what size sump pump you have for your home - if it’s too small it won’t be able to keep up and if it’s too large it’ll be working overtime and will burnout. In Edmonton the minimum pump size that should be used is a ⅓ hp, this is generally sufficient in most homes.

  • However, the way you treat your sump pump also matters. If you regularly and properly maintain it, you can increase its life.

Regardless of the factor that did your sump pump in, very often it may cease to work simply because it has reached the end of its life. On average, this occurs somewhere around the 10 year mark give or take depending on the quality of the pump. In reality it ranges from 1 - 20 years or so.

There are however, some problematic situations apart from the typical wear and tear that every sump pump experiences. Sometimes, sump pumps suck in a rock or dirt clumps up in the device. These unwanted materials can block the pump from turning and will often burn out the pump motor. Sometimes if the pump has moved in the pit the float switch can get hung up leaving the pump to either run indefinitely or to not run at all and potentially flood your home. If the float switch is unable to make it back down to its resting state, your sump pump will think that the water level in the pit is much higher than it really is and will therefore run continuously. This can be catastrophic for your sump pump system - it’ll overheat and burn out much too soon.

Sump Pump Troubleshooting

If your sump pump is working suspiciously long hours, it’s time to take a look inside and see what’s going on. The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure there is nothing jamming the float switch. Things you’ll want to keep an eye out for (and bring a flashlight with you) are:

  • Float switch is stuck - If the float switch isn’t floating, that’s a problem. If it’s above the water you’ll want to reposition it to allow it to float freely. If its stuck under water you’ll need to do the same thing, free it up so it can do its job.

  • Debris in the sump pit. Much like something solid can jam your float switch, a buildup of debris can also press up against the device and prevent it from sinking back into position. You’ll have to clean this out, which may include removing the pump from the sump pit and cleaning it manually.

  • You should also check it the sump pump has shifted on its own within the pit. Its own vibration can cause it to displace itself and could result in a float switch that’s pressed up against the wall. All you’ll have to do here is move it to its original position.

  • You might not be looking forward to this last point - look out for slime. Although some debris can be normal at the very bottom of the sump pit, large amounts of slime are unfortunately, a sign of growing bacteria. Your sump pit provides wonderful conditions for bacterial growth (and horrible odours!) that could also get in the way of its function if not kept at bay. To remedy this, you’ll need to dilute some bleach (1 cup in 3-4 litres of water) and pour it into your sump pump. You might have to repeat this a few times, but if you’re still encountering issues, the problem may be more serious and a licensed plumber may have to clean it out professionally.

  • Debris sucked into the pump - this one can get tricky. It is not uncommon for a sump pump to suck in a small rock which jams the pump. When this happens the motor will keep trying to pump but the pump is stuck in place. It usually causes overheating and can burn out the motor. If you are going to try to fix it you’ll need to remove the pump and try to get the rock out. We normally suggest replacement of your sump pump after this happens as the lifespan of your pump was probably significantly reduced by this blockage.

Sump Pump Repair or Replace?

You may have tried some of the above listed solutions and gotten nowhere. Unfortunately, this happens - sometimes it’s time to call in for some help. Your plumber will let you know whether the problem can be fixed or whether it’s time to let go of your old pump and replace it with a new one.

Although it’s an investment for your home, a sump pump can be on the lower end of plumbing expenditures that the average homeowner will experience in their lifetime and therefore, the repair may not be worth all the effort and associated costs. Very often, once a sump pump begins to break down it simply means that it has lived a full life and is growing tired. Although every now and then some fixes are simple, most of the time problems are indicative of the sump pump’s age. What’s most important is the protection of your home against flooding. If your sump pump is beginning to fail, this could mean that a flooded basement is just around the corner and this could result in a much bigger headache (and expenses!) “Better safe than sorry” really applies in this circumstance.

A licensed Mr. Rooter Plumbing Edmonton plumber will be more than happy to take a look at the problem and let you know which option will be best for your home.

Sump Pump Installation

Considering Canada’s rainy and snowy climate, chances are you have a sump pump installed in your home already. If you have an older home without the infrastructure for a sump pump system, this is by no means a DIY project and should be performed or overseen by a licensed plumbing professional.

However, if your sump pump has reached its last days and it’s simply time to change it out with a new one, you’ll have the option to do it yourself. What you’ll need to do is:

  • Unplug the old sump pump and disconnect is from the discharge lines. You might want to have some tools handy - pliers especially.

  • Submerge the new sump pump into the pit.

  • Set the float switch so it can move freely as the water level rises and falls.

  • Reattach the discharge lines once again ensuring complete tightness (to avoid any escaping water). Once this is done your sump pump can be plugged into the outlet.

  • Make sure to test it to ensure it is working properly. You may have to put some extra water in the pit to make sure everything is working right.

Although these steps seem very straightforward, there is much that can go wrong and you’ll have to be meticulous in reattaching the discharge lines, and ensure that everything has been connected properly. If you feel any hesitation in this process, it’s safest to call a licensed plumber for help. Mr. Rooter Plumbing Edmonton plumbers guarantee their work so you’ll have nothing to worry about.

What Are the Best Sump Pumps?

The long list of sump pumps that exist in Edmonton can be confusing for most people. It’s tough to navigate and choose what’s right for your home. The geographical area that you live in matters, the size of your home also matters and consequently, the power of your sump pump might vary from the needs of your neighbour’s. There are also different types of switches that can be used for different scenarios.

A large and common difference that you’ll have to decide on when purchasing a sump pump is whether you’ll be purchasing a plastic one or one made of heavy cast iron. As a rule of thumb, we recommend the heavy cast iron pumps. Although the plastic ones do provide quite a bit of bang for your buck in the first year or two after installation, the plastic can experience cracks and damage much more quickly than an iron sump pump system. This means that you might have to replace a plastic sump pump multiple times and pay for installation each time within the lifespan of a single high quality cast iron pump. When flooding your basement is a risk, we always suggest going with a top quality pump. At Mr. Rooter Plumbing Edmonton we install the highest quality parts because we guarantee our work. That’s why we like to use Myers Cast Iron Sump Pumps.

You may have a smart thermostat installed in your home, you might be able to tell Alexa to change the song coming through your living room speakers but did you know that your sump pump can also be grouped in with the advanced tech gadgets of your home? Some newer sump pumps are now wifi enabled. You can now plug your sump pump into a wifi enabled outlet which in turn allows it to continuously read data regarding your sump pump’s activity. If it detects a problem, the outlet will send an alert to your phone to let you know that something suspicious is occurring. This then allows you, the homeowner, to be two steps ahead of a potential problem. The latest technology now lets you know that a problem is about to happen and you can step in and prevent your basement from flooding well before disaster strikes.

You can also use wifi enabled leak detectors to monitor the water level in your sump pit. If the level gets higher than normal you’ll get an alarm notification so you can investigate immediately instead of waiting until someone notices the flooding in the basement.

Eliminate the Risk

Without the proper skills and training, it can be hard to determine your home’s needs in terms of flood prevention. Because there are various types of sump pump draining systems out there, you’ll want to ensure that you pick the right one for your circumstance. Although there are quite a few measures you can take to repair an issue on your own, you may get to a point where only a professional can step in and save your home from a potential flood. Mr. Rooter’s plumbers always guarantee all parts and workmanship so you can feel secure about your home’s plumbing. We’re also here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and even on holidays because we know that plumbing disasters don’t wait for a convenient time. If you’re stuck in a sticky situation with your sump pump, call Mr. Rooter Plumbing Edmonton - we’ve got the skills and experience to get the job done right.