Sump pump and GFCI

Old 10-15-17, 10:15 PM
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Sump pump and GFCI

So we have a sump pump in the basement of our congregation. The safety guidelines we are required to follow in our congregation say that the sump pump must be plugged into a GFCI outlet. Problem is, our sump pump has frequently tripped the GFCI in the past and flooded the basement. Since then, we had an electrician tell us that it was OK to plug it into a non GFCI... so based on that we skirted the rules.

Fast forward to this year... new safety requirements in our congregation now say we need a battery backup and alarm, which must also be plugged into GFCI.

I believe this is all on a 15A circuit.

So what would you say is the solution to this problem of the sump pump tripping the GFCI? Because I'm sure that once the backup battery is also plugged into it, it will tend to trip even more. I think the sump pump probably kicks it out during times when it is running the most... usually for a few weeks every spring.

Should a dedicated 20A circuit be run for this item, along with a 20A GFCI?
Old 10-16-17, 10:08 AM
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Motors/pumps should run off a GFI receptacle without a problem. Unfortunately, as they get older, the windings tend to 'leak' current, which causes the GFI to trip. It's not inherently a safety issue... but it still trips the GFI.

And as you've found, code requires all basement receptacles to be GFI, which sort of leaves you in a quandary. As I see it, you have 3 options:

1) Replace the pump. A new pump should not have any GFI tripping issues
2) Run the pump off a non-GFI protected circuit (not code-compliant)
3) Add a battery backup and alarm, like you have planned). The good part is if the pump does trip, you'll hear the alarm and be able to reset it.

Upgrading the 15A to 20A won't help anything.
Old 10-17-17, 05:41 PM
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Thank you. Replacing the pump might be an option. As you mentioned, to be code compliant, we really should have it plugged into a gfci. Our sump basket is not big enough to have a pump AND it's backup both sitting in the bottom of the basin... so maybe this would be the time to upgrade everything. As is, our choices for a backup are limited to one model that mounts above the float of our primary sump... and it is small and would not have near the capacity of one that sits next to the primary one.

Thanks for the suggestions, I think you have steered me in the right direction.
Old 10-19-17, 10:47 AM
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BTW the code requirement for GFCI is pretty important for the sump pump. The scenario is the pump fails in such a way that it leaks current into the water, the water backs up because the pump isn't working, somebody walks downstairs to see what's the problem, steps in the electrified water, and BAM! This one isn't just a theoretical risk. If you search for news stories you will find several examples of people electrocuted by sump pumps or who drown in the flood water as a result of being incapacitated from a shock they got from the pump. There was a fairly recent case I think in Pennsylvania of a mother and her child dying on a basement stairwell with the suspected cause of electrocution from a sump pump.

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