Sump Pump has unattached float - repairable?

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  #1  
Old 03-13-05, 07:58 AM
USA Al
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Question Sump Pump alway running, possible detached float - Repairable?

This morning I noticed our sump pump continuously running. The motor was doing its humming, and about every minute, it sounded like it was pumping out water (heard gurgling, swishing noises).

This behavior is not normal - usually the pump only runs when the well water level has reached a certain level. Otherwise it is quiet most of the time. For the current weather and ground conditions, this continuous pumping didn't seem right.

The well is built into our basement floor, and the pump is a submersible type.

First thing I did was to disconnect power to the pump for a few seconds. As soon I reapplied power, the motor turned on again. I tried this a few times, all with the same result.

Then I removed the well cover and peered down into the well. I found that there is a small, black rubber oval ball lying on the bottom of the well next to the pump unit. Otherwise nothing else looked out of the ordinary.

I am assuming this ball is the float switch for the pump and that it switches the pump on and off when the water level reaches a certain level.

I could not see any connection between the ball and the pump unit.

I looked at the pump unit and could not discern where this ball might have disconnected from. I didn't see any loose wires, rods or any other place that ball might have been attached. I did not take the pump out so I was looking at it from the top of the well with my flashlight.

Questions:
1) Is is correct that the ball is the float switch for the pump? I have looked into the well before but I cannot remember if I ever saw this ball before.

2) Is reconnecting the ball float an easy repair job? Where does that ball connect to on the pump unit?

3) On the other hand, assuming the ball didn't come off the pump, do I just need to replace the pump? So what switches the pump on and off?

Oh yeah, there is water coming into the well during this whole time. I disconnected the power for about 5 minutes then reconnected it - the pump discharged some water and I saw the water level go down. Because of this I feel I should fix/replace whatever the problem is today, as I'm thinking the motor will eventually burn out if I leave it in this condition.

This pump is at least 13 years old (the time we've been in the house). I'm not averse to replacing the whole unit if I can't repair the ball/switch/float whatchamacallit thingee.

Thanks for any info!

Al
 

Last edited by USA Al; 03-13-05 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Clarify the Title again
  #2  
Old 03-13-05, 08:50 AM
USA Al
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Some photos of the well, pump and ball

I checked again and now I'm wondering if that float is just a leftover from an old pump, and the current pump has some other mechanism for switching on and off.

I posted some photos here:

Well
Closer
Closest

You'll see that ball on the left of the pump unit.

Pump experts - please take a look at let me know.

Thanks

Al
 
  #3  
Old 03-13-05, 05:06 PM
USA Al
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Problem Went Away After Letting Well Fill Up

So I disconnected the power to the pump before leaving the house this morning. It was disconnected for 5 hours. The well filled up to about 80% full. When I got home I reconnected power. The pump discharged all the water, but not to all the way empty like in the photos. Maybe to only about halfway up the pump unit.

I watched the well after that and when the water level builds up to a few inches above the pump, the pump discharges.

So there must be some kind of pressure or volume switch on my pump?

I don't know - but I'm just glad it seems to be working now!
 
  #4  
Old 03-14-05, 07:12 AM
P
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There are a number of different types of switches for sump pumps. I would guess that the ball you see in there is probably from something else. (I tried to view the pics you posted, but couldn't view them). One type of switch that is used is a diaphragm switch. They are usually mounted on the pump itself. You can tell if you have one of these by looking at the plug on the cord. You can see a little tube on the underside of the cord. If this tube becomes pinched or obstructed, the switch won't work. Another type of switch is actually a float switch but is mounted inside a plastic housing, so you don't see the mechanism. These will hang up if mud and debris gets inside the housing. Any other type of switch I've seen is pretty recognizable as a simple float switch.
Ron
 
  #5  
Old 03-14-05, 08:15 AM
USA Al
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I wonder what kind of switch I have?

Pumpman - thank you very much for the info.

Here's one of the photos - I hope you can see it now that I figured out how to put the photo directly in this message:



I think I understand your explanation of the different switches. I just can't tell which one I have.

Maybe there's something on the underside of one of the cords near the pump? I did notice that that part of the cord is rather stiff compared to the higher black part of the cords.
 
  #6  
Old 03-14-05, 08:24 AM
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That switch looks like it may have some type of float below it. Try to clean out some of the silt around it and see if that helps.
Ron
 
  #7  
Old 03-14-05, 09:51 AM
USA Al
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Where is the switch?

Is the switch on the green unit, or the silver unit on the right?
 
  #8  
Old 03-14-05, 04:45 PM
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The switch is the silver unit on the right side.
Ron
 
  #9  
Old 03-19-05, 11:37 PM
USA Al
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Ron,

Thanks for the info.

I thought all was well all week, then I noticed the problem came back tonight . The pump was doing its high pitched gurgling, suctioning noise. The well was practically empty.

I did the same thing - disconnected power (only for a few minutes this time), poured some water in to raise the level to about halfway up the pump (green unit). Reconnected power, and prayed the pump would discharge. Finally around 18" above the pump, the pump discharged the water, leaving about 2-3" inches in the well.

Oh yeah, last week when I first noticed the issue, the pump would discharge when the level was about 6" above the pump. Now it's doing it much later!?

So now I'm wondering about the switch. How exactly does it work? Is the 'sensing' mechanism under, on the side, or on top? Could there be some debris/obstruction that's getting in/under/on it that is causing it to periodically lose its brains?

And what could cause the well to get almost empty? Whenever I've watched it work properly, the pump stops discharging when there's still a few inches left in the well. Seems like the switch/pump goes haywire when the well is empty.

Thanks for any info!

Al
 
  #10  
Old 03-21-05, 05:05 AM
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The pump looks to me like a Hydromatic with a diaphragm switch. If it were me, I would remove the diaphragm switch (it should attach with just a couple bolts) and then search for a different hydromatic switch (I have a vertical float "VS" type which is basically a float on a vertical shaft). A new switch should bolt on. If you can't find a hydromatic parts dealer, then you can always go the tethered float switch route.
 
 

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