Common Edmonton Sump Pump Problems Homeowners Face


Sump pumps are in most Edmonton homes to protect them from encroaching groundwater. Because almost every Edmonton home has a basement there is constantly groundwater trying to work its way in. Your home’s weeping tile drains into your sump pit where the water collects before it is pumped back outside by, you guessed it, your sump pump.

Your home's sump pump serves a critical role in the management of groundwater. This helps to minimize the possibility of basement backups. Protecting your Edmonton sump pump should be your top focus, whether it's spring, summer, or fall.

Most sump pumps last an average of about 6-8 years. Whether it's due to old age or unavoidable technical faults, sump pumps can sometimes develop problems. Recognizing these problems, and finding ways to avoid them is imperative for any homeowner.

Here’s a guide to diagnosing sump pump problems in Edmonton.

1. Switching Faults

The sump pump switch acts as a level sensor. This vital feature alerts the pump whenever there are rising water levels in the sump pump. Depending on your sump pump, these switches may either be float or digital, but most are floats.

One of the most common Edmonton sump pump problems involves switch failures. Various reasons may cause a problem with your sump pump switching system. Sometimes the switch catches against one side of the basin which will keep the pump from turning on when it should. The positioning of the switch can and will affect the functionality of the sump pump. Just like a light, if the switch is broken the light is either stuck on or off.

If the float switch is unable to get its message to the pump, then the basin may end up overflowing into the basement. This could be a risky situation for your basement. We recommend a regular inspection on a schedule for the sump pump to ensure a malfunctioning pump is caught before damage is caused.

Our team of experts ensures the switch is able to freely move each time they inspect your system.

2. Power Failure

Hydroelectricity accounts for 59.3% of the power supply in Canada. If you live in Alberta, Ontario, or any other major province in Canada, there's a chance that you rely on hydropower to run your sump pump. During instances of power outages, the first problem you must deal with is the sudden shutdown of the sump pump.

If your Edmonton sump pump is not working, the first thing you should check is the power supply. Most times, the issue could simply be a sudden power outage. If this is the issue, you might need to consider battery-powered pump backup options to minimize basement flooding risk.

If you live in an area that’s prone to constant power outages, then you should really consider having a reliable sump pump backup system. Other cases of power-related sump pump problems may be due to varying faults in the power supply.

Dealing with any power issues affecting the sump pump is critical, especially during the rainy season. Most sump pump failures that result in flooding cause thousands of dollars in damage.

Are you stuck wondering where to access Edmonton sump pump service providers to deal with power-related issues? You might need to call in our plumbing specialists to assess the flow of power into the sump pump.

3. Overwhelmed Sump Pump

All pumps aren’t created equal. If you fail to recognize this fact when installing your sump pump, you may install a pump that isn’t up to the job. Sump pumps vary depending on the horsepower and the capacity. The difference between quality sump pumps and the rest is significant. Inexpensive pumps commonly fail within a couple of years of installation, while quality pumps often last 15-20 years or more!

An overwhelmed sump pump can lead to severe flooding in your home's basement. Most times, when this happens, it’s because your system’s sump pump is not powerful enough to keep up with the water coming in. This is especially common during rainy seasons with homes that are using inferior pumps.

Most homes in Edmonton have average water tables. You should consider having a sump pump with 1/3 horsepower, which can handle at least 10'- 15' of vertical lift.

In our experience, when a home has a good quality sump pump it is very rare for the flow of water into the sump pit to be greater than the pump's ability to pump it out. However, about 1% of the time we find that even with a good quality pump, there is SO MUCH WATER coming in during a storm that a normal pump just can’t cut it. In these rare circumstances, you may have to look at getting a more powerful pump to keep up with the enormous amounts of water coming in. You may also want to look at your landscaping to ensure that water is being directed away from your home, not towards it.

Has your Edmonton sump pump been experiencing a recurrence of water overflow? It might be time to call in our experts to help you with the replacement process. This will avoid any cases of flood in the future.

4. Discharge Pipe is Frozen

Some Edmonton sump pump pipes are prone to freezing, especially during our brutal Alberta winters. During extreme weather, Edmonton temperatures might hit lows of up to -40 C, but you know this already. If your sump pump’s discharge pipe freezes, it could potentially cause some real grief.

The discharge pipe plays an essential role in pumping the accumulated groundwater out of the sump pit. However, when water sits in the pipe, there’s a risk to your basement and property given the blockage along the discharge area.

Such risks related to freezing along the sump pump pipes are avoidable. The good thing is that the risk of discharge pipes freezing is often prevalent during the winter, which means that you can find ways to limit this risk whenever winter approaches.

In most installations, water won’t sit in the pipe for long. As soon as the pump stops running the water in the pipe will fall back down into the pit, draining through the pump. However, some pumps get installed with check valves that won’t allow the water to come back down the pipe. In this case, a small hole should be drilled above the last check valve to allow some water to drain back into the pit. This is usually all it takes to keep from freezing that pipe!

You might wonder, what’s the worst that could happen if the discharge pipe freezes? If you still have groundwater coming in but the pump isn’t able to pump it out, you will eventually experience flooding in your basement. Even if some water has come in but not enough water to cause flooding, your pump will be running constantly trying to pump it out and will eventually burn itself out. Then you’ll be in a situation where you have a dead sump pump and you won’t know it.

Some Edmonton homeowners also have extensions on their sump pump pipes to carry the water further away from the house. These work great when it's not cold out, but you need to take them off for the winter or it will definitely freeze!

5. Old Age

Sump Pump's lifespan varies widely, ranging anywhere from 1-25 years or so. There are a lot of factors that play into how long a pump will last, but ultimately you never really know when a pump's last day will be.

Generally, when a pump is getting old there are 3 things that generally fail. First, the switch is a common failure as we discussed above.

Second, the bearing between the pump and the motor often fails. When this happens you may hear that your pump sounds louder than normal when it runs, and it may trip the breaker because it has to work harder to try to pump.

Third, it is also common for a leak into the pump to cause an electrical short. Because this is always a potential occurrence, remember if your pump isn’t working properly there is a chance that the water in the pit may be electrified. Make sure to unplug your pump first before getting in there!

Most homeowners get frustrated with their sump pumps due to sudden breakdowns. Regardless of the age of your pump, you should start considering a regular inspection.

Are you looking to deal with the problem of old age before it’s too late? Calling in an expert to assess your Edmonton sump pump early in advance can minimize the risk of a sudden breakdown.

6. Blockages in the Sump Pump

Most of the issues you might be experiencing with your sump pump could be a result of clogging. In 2018 alone, the total of insured damages from severe weather was over $1.9 billion. Canada has had its fair share of flooding in homes over the last decade, partially due to groundwater working its way into Canadian basements.

Part of the reason for this flooding is physical blocks in sump pumps. Dirt and debris are the most common causes of clogs within the sump pit. Often it will be a small rock that gets sucked into the pump. If it catches just right it will stop your pump dead in its tracks!

7. Recurrent Overheating

Sump pumps run on electricity, which means that when overworked, they are susceptible to overheating. If your pump keeps overheating even while placed in water, this is definitely an underlying issue with the motor. While your pump may not burn up, the pump will fail very soon so plan to replace it ASAP!

If you experience a recurrence of overheating, then the issue is likely a failing motor. The sump pump might also have cracks in the casting, causing malfunctions. If the sump pump has a broken impeller, then this might also cause overheating.

If you are checking on your pump and the water in the pit is warm it’s time for a replacement. You should call in our team of plumbing specialists at Mr. Rooter to assess the sump pump for probable cause.

How to Inspect Your Sump Pump

Inspecting your sump pump is pretty easy. Just follow these easy steps:

  1. Take off the sump pit cover. This might require removing a few screws.

  2. Ensure there is enough water in the pit to test the pump. Ideally, at least half of the pump should be covered with water.

  3. Find the float switch. Most models have a bulb (about the size of a fist) on a cord. The bulb should be floating on the water.

  4. Either reach into the pit or use a hockey stick to lift the bulb (to simulate a rising water level). Once the bulb is raised to a high enough angle it should trigger the pump to turn on and pump out some water.

  5. Lower the bulb back down until the pump turns off again.

If the pump is turned on and off as described then your pump is working and you can have some piece of mind… for now. We strongly recommend that you check your pump frequently to make sure it is working properly.

Every year our plumbers witness hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to basements in Edmonton from failed sump pumps so it is really worth the effort to check on yours regularly. Many of our customers install extra pumps so that if one fails there will be another there to pick up the slack.

Avoid These Edmonton Sump Pump Problems

Your home sewer system is not complete without a sump pump. This vital tool in the basement of your home helps keep your foundation and any other property in the basement safe from probable flooding. However, sump pumps are prone to inevitable problems caused by varying factors.

Some of the common Edmonton sump pump problems include issues with the mechanical functionality of the pumps.

Our plumbing specialists can help you deal with any of these sump pump problems.

Are you looking for a reputable company to help you with all your plumbing-related issues? Contact Mr. Rooter Plumbing of Edmonton today.