What to Do When A Sump Pump Is Tripping A Breaker? Answered

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For many homeowners, a sump pump is nothing but a life-saver, especially when their homes are threatened by floodwater. Therefore, it is essential to recognize and troubleshoot problems such as the sump pump tripping breaker.

When it happens:

  • Check the source of the problem
  • After analyzing the situation, take necessary steps such as replace or repair the unit
  • Consult a licensed electrician, if necessary

In order to take the necessary steps, you must first be aware of the possible factors that can cause your pump to trip the breaker. For that, you can check below for details.

What to Do When A Sump Pump Is Tripping A Breaker

Why is your sump pump tripping the breaker?

There are many reasons that can lead to this phenomenon.

1. Water damage

When you are using a device for an extended period of time, its electrical connections and seal can eventually become loose. Your sump pump isn’t any different. When it’s brand new, every pump has a waterproof seal that protects the electrical equipment inside from water. But the longer you keep using it, the faster the sealing agent on the motor housing wears off.

This allows water to seep in. The corrosive water and the moisture can cause your pump to malfunction. It can damage the float switch and the pump cavity, causing the pump to trip the breaker.

2. Lack of surge protection

If you are constantly facing power failures, then experiencing electrical surges is a widespread phenomenon. Sudden surges can damage the electrical components of your pump. To safeguard your sump pump, you can invest in a surge protector. It can be a bit costly, but it is useful in the long run. It can protect the electronics of your pump for many years.

3. Power outlet

Sometimes a simple mistake can cause you a great deal of trouble. Having too many devices plugged into a single outlet can cause your pump to trip. When you plug in more than one appliance to an outlet, it uses more power than it usually would if you use a single device. Also, sometimes it can happen that it is the other gadget that is causing the problem and not the pump.

For this, it is better to use a single GFCI outlet exclusively for the sump pump. And, if you don’t have a GFCI outlet, then you need to rewire your previous outlet and replace it with a GFCI.

4. Electrical issues

When it comes to handling electrical problems related to your sump pump, it can be delicate and tricky. If you are not using the right tools, it can cause electrical fires or shock. Even a slight mishap by you can damage the entire system. So, when it comes to solving electrical issues of your pump, it is better to leave it to the professionals. Or, if you are exceptionally experienced with plumbing, you can perform it with caution and remember to always unplug the pump before you dismantle it.

5. Age

When you buy a brand-new pump, it can run smoothly for years without any problems. Plus, if it is of good quality and if you regularly maintain and lubricate, the pump can last for over a decade. However, with time, the performance of a pump can become less consistent, and it can start tripping the breaker more and more often. In this case, you can either replace the pump or fix the old one. Though repairing a cheaper pump can sometimes be difficult and costly, so, buying a newer sump pump that is more efficient would be a better option for you.

6. Faulty Wiring Issues

If your home is quite old, then it is highly likely that the wires can fray. This can be one of the reasons for the pump to trip the breaker. Here, you may need to replace the old wiring of your home. For this, you can consult a licensed electrician for an in-depth inspection of your home. The electrician can check if the wiring of your home is able to supply sufficient power to the outlet where the sump pump is plugged in.

Also, your pump can trip if the wiring isn’t heavy enough. In this case, you must ensure that your extension cord is also able to handle the sump pump’s horsepower.

7. Bad Float switch

Exposure to corrosive water and power surges can damage the float switch. If you are using a piggyback plug system, then you can easily remove the double-up plug of the pump from the wall outlet. Separate the plug of the motor from that of the float switch. The plug of the motor is usually piggybacked onto the plug of the switch. Insert the plug of the motor directly; if the pump turns on, then your switch has failed. Replace the switch to avoid tripping the breaker.

Why does my submersible pump keep tripping out?

A submersible pump is equipped to handle heavy-duty work. That is why it is extremely frustrating if it keeps tripping out all the time. Here, are the five possible reasons why your pump is acting this way.

  • Cracks – after several uses, the housing of your pump can develop cracks on the surface. The water can seep into the pump and cause it to short circuit. Also, sometimes the pump may have a leak, allowing water to flow in through the housing.
  • Overload – the function of the breaker is to limit the amount of current passing into the pump to a point that makes it safe to handle. So, if the pump happens to consume more electricity than it is supposed to, the circuit breaker trips. One of the common reasons behind an overload can be a worn bearing.
  • Faulty sealing – every submersible pump has a mechanical sealing. Occasionally, due to overuse, the seal can get worn out or may become loose. This allows water to drain into the sump pump windings, causing the shaft to seize and allow excess starting current to enter the system. This will, in turn, lead to your pump tripping a breaker.
  • Clogs– sometimes the problem can be caused by something as simple as a clog. Every now and then, debris can get caught in between the blades of the impeller, and thus triggering the breaker to trip. This can be easily resolved by doing regular maintenance work on the pump.
  • Age – the life span of your pump also plays a huge factor. By the rule of thumb, a sump pump can run smoothly for almost a decade, if it is well-maintained and lubricated at least once a year. However, if it ages more than that then, it is likely to become less consistent and trip the breaker.

What to do when water seeps into the electrical system?

When you notice that the sealing agent of your pump housing is wearing off, you must take necessary actions as it can cause internal damage to the electrical component of the pump.

  • First, you need to separate the two plugs, the sump pump, and float switch, away from each other.
  • Then, use a blow dryer to dry them. Make sure that they are completely dry and that there isn’t any moisture in any of the components.
  • Next, take off the cord connector and dry it. You can find it on top of the sump pump. For drying it, you can either use a hairdryer or a piece of cloth.

Is your pump’s impeller jammed?

To check if there’s anything blocking the impeller:

  • First, you need to unplug your sump pump from the main power supply. If your pump is inside the pit, fish it out and then dismantle it.
  • At the bottom of the pump, there is a screen that allows you to access the impeller. Remove it.
  • Inside the pump, look for any debris that can be attached to the impeller. Clean the blades carefully.
  • After removing the dirt, rotate the blades along the screw and see if there is any obstruction in its rotation.

Why is my sump pump keep tripping the GFCI?

Your sump pump is designed to keep the moisture away from the motor. However, if it is poorly designed, water can enter into the motor casing and disrupt the internal connections. It can divert the flow of the electrical current from the neutral wire into the ground wire or into the plumbing.

Does my sump pump need GFCI?/ Does the sump pump need a dedicated circuit?

A ground-fault circuit interrupter, or GFCI, is usually installed to prevent a break in the grounding path of a device. In the event of a ground fault, if the user is in direct contact with the outlet, then the current may flow through the user and can cause severe injuries.

For your pump to run uninterruptedly, it needs a dedicated circuit and a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI). A GFCI creates a grounding path in the device. It is a circuit breaker that shuts off as soon as it detects an electrical surge and in turn, protects you from getting electrocuted. So, the GFCI is a circuit breaker that immediately shuts off the power supply as soon as it detects a difference in the amount of electricity that goes in and comes out of the unit.

Generally, there are three different types of GFCI – receptacle type, portable type, and cord-connected type. In the receptacle type, the GFCI is incorporated into the receptacle outlet. With the portable type, you plug it into a non- GFCI outlet. The cord-connected type has an attachment plug with the GFCI module. Normally, the outlets have a GFCI installed into them. However, if yours doesn’t have one, then you can use a circuit breaker or you can easily install a GFCI into the walls.

A sump pump needs an electrical outlet that is solely dedicated to it. However, if the outlet does not have a GFCI pre-installed, then you can either install it into the wall or use a circuit breaker. This usually happens if your house is too old.

Can a bad sump pump trip a breaker?

A faulty pump can frequently trip a breaker. In this case, it is better to replace the pump. Since the cheaper ones are very hard to repair, it is more cost-effective to buy a good quality sump pump. They are more long-lasting and can get the job done more efficiently.


Now that you know of the possible reasons that can cause your pump to trip the breaker, you can handle it on your own. We have provided you with all the ways you can tackle this problem and have a water-free basement. We hope this was helpful.

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