Sump Pump Mystery
Posted by Ray Mangini on December 30, 2003 at 18:54:35:
Usually my sump pump works fine, but every so often it fails, and my basement floods with an inch or so of water.

I look in the cistern and the pump is completely submerged. Sometimes the circuit breaker has tripped, but NOT ALWAYS!!! Not even usually. (Out of four times, the breaker only tripped once.)

When it doesn't trip (or even when it does, after I reset it), all I have to do is pull the pump out of the cistern, resubmerge it, plug it back in, and all is well. The cistern empties through the little pipe in the wall. As that happens, the water that was queued up waiting to enter the cistern comes in through the pipe in the side of the cistern and it gets evacuated too.

After doing this, I have tested the pump by filling a large (8 gallon) bucket of water at the sink and then dumping it into the cistern. The little float comes up, the pump turns on, and the cistern empties. Everything seems fine.

For a period of time (following the first two incidents), we did have problems where the cistern would begin to fill up during times of rain, raising the float but without turning on the pump. So I would go in the basement whenever it rained and jiggle the float until the pump would come on. But I thought that that problem was behind me because for the past couple months, the pump was turning itself on whenever it rained, so I quit checking it.

Now we had a heavy rain last night, and the cistern filled up and our basement flooded again. Some folks at work have suggested that I replace the sump pump, and I am willing to do so if that is what is needed. (With everything being made in China nowadays, it's probably cheaper to buy a new one than to pay the American labor rate to try to fix the old one.)

Problem is, how do I know for sure that the pump is the problem? My house payment is high and I have small kids and a tight budget, so I can't afford trial-and-error problem solving.

So is it just a worn-out sump pump? How do I know for sure? If it IS the sump pump, can anyone explain the "why" of what I am experiencing so that it makes sense?

What else could it be?

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