Troubleshooting a Submersible Sump Pump

Should you at some time find that you have water flooding the floor of your basement, you might learn from investigating that your submersible sump pump is failing to operate as it should. In addition to the issue of water that is not being pumped out of your basement, you may also have a problem of electrical circuit shorting. If the pump wiring is underwater, it may have tripped a circuit breaker switch; or it may be that power is still flowing through this circuit and could present the threat of electrical shock. You will need to take steps to determine the situation and any options you have for correcting the problem.

Step 1 – Check Your Electrical Circuit

At your circuit breaker panel, locate the switch that controls power to your sump pump and determine if the switch is in the "on" position or whether it has been tripped to "off." If it is still on, you should then turn it off. Once you're sure the power to the pump has been shut off, you will likely have removed any likelihood of getting shocked from stepping in the water on the basement floor. If the pump wiring is not underwater, check to see if the power cord is plugged into a power receptacle. If it is already plugged in, proceed with your troubleshooting.

Step 2 – Check the Pump Wiring

If the pump wiring is submersed in water, you'll need to empty the water out of the basement enough to proceed with your troubleshooting. Rent a pump, if necessary, and remove enough water so that your pump wiring is no longer submersed. When the water has subsided enough that your wiring is no longer submersed, you can then unplug the pump and remove it from the sump pit to place it where the wiring can dry.

Step 3 – Check the Float Switch

If your pump is activated by a float switch, you should check this switch. You'll recognize it by its black, egg-shaped appearance. It will have a power cord that is connected to it. You can check to see if it is working properly by moving the switch and checking to be sure it isn't jammed under something that keeps it from changing positions. If the switch seems to be frozen or stuck, try to work it loose.

Step 4 – Check the Pump Motor

When your pump wiring is dry, you should check the motor by plugging the pump power cord into a receptacle and checking to see if the pump motor begins turning. If it turns freely, you should shut it off and replace the pump in the sump pit with all connections reattached. If the motor is still running normally after you plug it in but the pump is not removing water, you should then disconnect the pump power cord and check the pump screen and drainpipe for clogs. If there are clogs, removing them should fix the problem.