What To Do When Sump Pump Overflows | Here’s The Guide

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Having an overflowing sump pump in the basement is probably one of the worst nightmares of any homeowner. It gets far worse, especially when you are living in a low-lying area. If you ever happen to find yourself in such a situation, here are a few ways of what to do when a sump pump overflows

  • Ensure your pump is getting enough power
  • Check circuit breaker and fuse
  • Reset the sump pump
  • Clear out any debris or clogs in the system
  • Look for damages in the unit and fix it as soon as possible

These are some of the preventative steps that you can take to tackle the situation. But, at the same time, you also need to understand what is causing your sump pump to act this way. Here, we have discussed all the possible causes and also the additive measures that you can take.

What Causes A Sump Pump to Overflow?

What To Do When Sump Pump Overflows

Here are some of the plausible causes:

·  Clogged weep hole

The weep hole or the relief hole is a teeny tiny hole that is punched right above the check valve on the drainage pipe. It is installed there to prevent air from getting trapped inside the pipes, which usually happens during the dry seasons and thus, allows the machine to run smoothly. Over time, dirt and sediments can block the hole. So, if your pump is overflowing, take a strong thin wire and wiggle it in through the hole. Remove any dirt that is blocking the hole.

· Frozen discharge pipe

Sometimes during the thawing season, your discharge pipes can still be frozen. This can also cause your sump pump to overflow. You can pour a bucket of hot water down the drain. This will melt down the ice in the pipes and flush out any sediments in the line.

· Defective float switch

The float switch is a delicate device that turns on the pump once the water levels in the pit reach a particular limit. It has a plastic housing that can easily incur cracks and tiny punctures on the surface. Or, the float can get entangled in debris and get stuck to the walls of the pit. So, make a habit of checking your float on a regular basis for signs of damage. Also, ensure that the float is able to move around freely. If you find the switch damaged replace the float switch with a new one.

· Age

The older your sump pump gets; the more problems will start popping up every now and then. Rust can start forming on the surface of the pump and on the inner linings of the pipe. Also, your sump pump can start failing more frequently.

Depending on the type, the life span of the pump can vary from 10 to 15 years. However, it is better to pay extra care and attention to your pump after it crosses the five-year period.

How Do I Stop My Sump Pump from Overflowing?

Power outage is one of the common reasons behind your sump pump overflowing. This normally happens during torrential rainfall or heavy storms which can trigger a citywide blackout. So, if your basement is flooding then you need to do troubleshoot the sump pump.

· Step 1

You need to check if your sump pump is receiving enough power. Sometimes during an electrical surge, the circuit breaker may trip or the fuse may burn out. So, your first course of action would be to inspect the main power supply. See if everything is in order and ensure that your circuit is intact.

· Step 2

Next, you need to reset your pump. For this, you can refer to the user’s manual or you can try unplugging the power chord of the sump pump from the outlet. Allow it to rest for some time and then you can re-plug it. Check if the pump starts running or not.

· Step 3

In case, your pump doesn’t start, uncover the lid of the sump pit and lift the float switch. The float switch relays the signal to the pump to activate. If it still does not turn on then there may be a mechanical failure in the sump pump. But, if you float switch perfectly functional then, try lowering its height. Doing this, will activate the pump much earlier and stop your sump from overflowing.

· Step 4

Look for any debris in the sump pit. Usually, after a number of uses dirt and debris get accumulated at the bottom of the basin. This can restrain your pump from functioning properly. So, clean out your sump pit but make sure you unplug the sump pump before you try out this step. If you are still facing the sump pump overflow issue, then call in a professional and allow the technician to handle the situation.

How to Prevent Sump Pump Overflow

Here are some ways on how to prevent sump pump overflow.

· Install a backup

In the event of a power outage, it is better to install a battery-powered backup sump pump or a generator. It can come in handy, especially during storms and emergencies and the power goes out for days. So, as soon as the electricity shuts down, the backup pump will activate and start removing water from the sump pit.

· Regular maintenance

Every sump pump comes with an owner’s manual that clearly states how often the device has to be cleaned and maintained. Generally, sump pump maintenance has to be done at least once every year but it’s a good practice to do it every 3 to 4 months. This way, you will be able to spot any rust or leaks in the mechanisms and can get it fixed right away.

· Higher horsepower pump

Most of the homeowners use a standard size 1/3 HP and, having less horsepower may be another reason why your sump pump is overflowing outside the pit. Although they are quite expensive, installing one with greater horsepower can reduce the occurrences of flooding. And, it will work more effectively by pumping out several gallons of water per minute.

· Assess the check valve

The discharge line is responsible for letting the water that is collected in the sump pit flow away from your house. The check valve prevents water from backflowing into the pit. Switch off your pump and then remove the pipe. Clean the valve and make sure that there isn’t any debris caught up in it. You can also install a spring-loaded check valve. It is a better version in comparison to a one-way check valve. The spring in the valve instigates it to close off as soon as the water pressure in the pipe decreases.

· Clean the impeller

If you hear a humming sound coming out the basin that is something out of the ordinary, then know that, it’s your impeller. During operation, debris can also get caught along with the blades of the impeller. This causes the humming sound. Usually, there is a filter inside the housing, you can easily remove it and scrape off the gunk.

But if there isn’t any filter, the debris will get directly attached to the blades. In this case, you will have to manually remove them off the blades. Also, check if there are any cracks on the impeller. Although the clogging of the impeller doesn’t stop the pump from working, it does however make the draining process quite inefficient.

· Get an Alarm System

Installing an alarm system is one of the smartest ways of dealing with a sudden rise in water levels. The moment water reaches a certain height, the alarm will immediately set off a beeping sound thus, alerting you about the current status of the pit. This way, you can be prepared and take the necessary precautions.

Does Your Insurance Cover Sump Overflow?

Normally, homeowners’ insurance does not cover water backup damages. This usually refers to any type of flooding in the house caused by a backed-up drain or a sump pump failure. It covers all the different causal scenarios, for example, sump overflow, clogged pipes and sewer lines, and failed devices. It also takes care of any mold or mildew damage in the house caused due to flooding.

Typically, the average cost of the coverage can be somewhere between $50 to $250 per annum. You can incorporate it as additional insurance into your homeowner’s insurance. Contact an insurance agent to fully understand the type of insurance that you are eligible for. This is important especially if you are living in an area surrounded by water or are prone to heavy precipitations. For better understanding, you can read our guide on sump pump insurance.


Now that you know what to do when the sump pump overflows, by following these steps getting it to work properly should be easier. However, after solving your overflow problem, you should also try and figure out the underlying issues that are causing your sump pit to flood and then do some troubleshooting. Also, make sure that you take some safety measures and are well-prepared to handle any problems that can occur in the future. But, in the end, if all else fails you can always hire a professional.

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