A float switch typically lasts for three years, after which it has to be replaced. Knowing how to replace one by yourself can come in handy, especially when help is far away. Here’s how you do it:
- Drain the water out of the pit
- Disconnect the pump
- Locate the float switch
- Remove the old switch
- Replace it with the new one
Table of Contents
- Why do sump pump float switches fail?
- Replacing the Sump Pump Float Switch
- Adding different float switch
- Types of Float Switch
- In Conclusion
Why do sump pump float switches fail?
Prevention is better than cure. Knowing why a float switch fails will help you understand how you can prolong its lifespan.
These switches can get damaged by the debris, pebbles, and other dirt that the storm brings in. It can also fail if it is not regularly cleaned and maintained. Or it has reached its expiration.
Replacing the Sump Pump Float Switch
Replacing the switch can be a little tricky, especially if you are inexperienced in plumbing. There are two ways you can go about it.
- You can replace the older one with the same type of switch. Or,
- You can replace it with a different kind of float switch.
To execute this procedure properly, you need to gather the following items first.
- A screwdriver
- Zip ties
- Concrete and silicone sealant
- Waterproof glue
- New float switch
Step 1 – Empty the sump pit
Before you begin, check your pit for any traces of water at the bottom. If there is any, run the pump until it is empty. After that is complete, disconnect the sump pump from the main power supply.
Step 2 – Locate the float switch
Either your switch will be attached to the side of the sump pump, or it may be at the bottom of the pit. Find it and then remove it.
Step 3 – Dismantle the switch.
After you remove the switch from the pit, use the screwdriver to open the switch housing. There, you will notice the defective switch.
Replace it with the new one and apply waterproof glue to it. Wait until the glue has dried off and then reassemble the parts back together.
Step 4 – Reconnect the switch.
Next, connect the float switch to the sump pump. Make sure that all the parts are properly sealed off, and then place it back into the pit.
Adding different float switch
The preliminary steps of adding a different float switch are the same as replacing the same type of switch.
Step 1 – Empty the pit
Ensure that the sump pump basin is empty. Next, disconnect the pump from the main power supply.
Step 2 – Bypass wiring
Later, bypass the wiring of the last switch and connect it with the new switch.
Step 3 – Reassemble the switch.
Attach the float switch to the housing and then seal it by using the sealant. Connect the switch to the sump pump and do a trial run to check whether everything is running smoothly.
Types of Float Switch
· Vertical switch
Of all the types of pump float switches out there, the vertical float is one of the most versatile switches. It can be easily installed and adjusted. The pumping range of a vertical switch is from 0.75- 6.5 inches.
- How it works – The operation of the switch is very straightforward. It uses a piggyback plug. The entire ensemble consists of a float, a vertical rod along with a switch that is encased inside a small housing, which is attached to the discharge pipe or onto the sump pump. When the water level rises, the switch rises along with it. It travels up the vertical rod.
- Advantages – One of the benefits of using this type of switch is that it can be used in a sump pit with a smaller diameter, even as small as 10 inches. And they are very reliable.
- Disadvantages – The float’s up and down motion is controlled by the rod; the adjustments can only be made by a few inches. Also, it has to be cleaned on a regular basis, as dirt and debris can weigh down the float.
· Diaphragm switch
The diaphragm switch is a little different from other switches. Unlike the typical rise and fall of a float switch, this type remains submerged at all times, even during operation. Its pumping range is about 3-5 inches.
- How it works – The sump pumps get activated based on the water pressure in the pit. The switch is placed at the bottom of the sump basin. When the water starts filling in, the pressure in the pit rises. When the pressure is at its peak, the bladder inside the switch compresses. This activates the sump pump to start removing water. As the water level goes down, the pressure in the pit reduces as well, and the bladder inflates again. This causes the pump to deactivate.
- Advantages – The diaphragm switch takes up very little space, which makes it perfect for small sump pits. The installation and replacement of this switch are effortless.
- Disadvantages – The pumping range is relatively small so; the switch can drive the pump into a rapid cycle. Because of this, the switch can easily malfunction, making it unreliable.
· Tethered switch
A majority of the homeowners use the tethered float switch for their sump pumps. It is a wide-angle switch with a pumping range of 7-36 inches. Some of the models are internally wired, while others use a piggyback plug.
- How it works – The switch has a float-bulb, which is either oval or round in shape. It is connected to a cord that is either attached to the lid or to the pump. Inside it, there is a mercury switch or a steel ball. When the bulb rises, the pump activates, and when it falls, the pump deactivates.
- Advantages – The pumping range of this switch is easily adjustable. Also, it is less prone to malfunctioning. It is well-suited for a large sump pit with a diameter of 14 inches.
- Disadvantages – The float needs to be annually cleaned as sludge and debris can obstruct it from floating.
· Electronic switch
The electronic switch is the newer version of the float. It barely has any moving parts and is much simpler than its predecessors. Primarily, there are two types.
Type 1 – The switch has a probe that is installed at a particular height. When the water level reaches this height, the pump activates. The runtime of this switch can be adjusted by using the control box, or it can be preset.
Type 2 – Here, the float is accompanied by a float that is encased in caged housing. It is placed at the bottom of the pit while the control box remains outside the pit. A sensor monitors the position of the float and activates the pump accordingly.
A float switch is crucial for your sump pump to function properly. So, if it breaks down in the middle of the night or during a storm, it is good to have a working knowledge of how to replace it.
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Hey there bud,
James A. Porter here, a veteran plumber, coming to you from New Orleans, Louisiana.
As I grew up in one of the most rain-infested areas of the USA, I had to pick up a thing or two about plumbing. While most people stop after picking up a few plumbing tricks, I began my career in plumbing.
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