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Troubleshooting A Sump Pump That Runs But Does Not Release Water

Sump pumps are essential devices used in homes across the country to reduce basement flooding concerns. Most of the pumps will last about 10 years. If you have a pump that stops working after just a few years, then you can likely troubleshoot the device to get it up and running once again. If you notice that the pump turns on and the motor runs but no water moves from the sump pump pit, then keep reading to learn how to resolve this problem.

Inspect The Check Valve

When your sump pump is installed, it is submerged in a sump or pit. As water fills in around the pump, a bobber or another type of gauge detects a high water level. This activates the motor in the pump. This motor controls the impeller on the bottom of the sump pump, and water is forced up and out of the discharge pipe. The sump pump motor then turns off when a low water level is detected in the pit. Some water will become trapped in the discharge pipe when the pump turns off. 

A small device called a check valve is installed along the discharge pipe to prevent water from moving back into the sump pump. If water backflows into the pump housing, the impeller will be turned backwards. This can cause the impeller to twist off its shaft. You will need to inspect the check valve to see if it is stuck open to investigate the issue.

The check valve is installed in the middle of two pieces of PVC piping, and pipe clamps typically hold the valve in place. The check valve will be an obvious black piece that sits in the middle of the discharge pipe. Use a screwdriver to release the top clamp from the check valve and gently pull the top pipe out of the valve. Use the screwdriver to loosen the clamp that attaches the bottom part of the discharge pipe to the sump pump. Pull the pipe out of the pump and place it over a bucket. Sometimes, the check valve will be clogged with debris, so turn the pipe upside down. Use a hose to rinse out the pipe and valve. Turn the pipe over and use the hose to rinse the top part of the valve. If you see the valve closing as you rinse, then the valve is working correctly again. If the valve does not close, then it needs to be replaced. Make the replacement.

Tighten The Impeller

Once you have cleaned or replaced the check valve, you must tighten the impeller so it is able to spin properly once again. Lift the sump pump out of the sump pit and place it on the floor. Look for screws along the top of the pump. Release the screws with a screwdriver and gently pull off the cover of the device. You will see a small impeller on the bottom of the pump. Use your hose to remove any debris that may be obstructing the impeller.

If the impeller has been dislodged due to the backflow of water, then it will not sit tightly on the motor shaft any longer. If the impeller is completely dislodged, then set it back on the shaft. Turn the impeller clockwise on the shaft until it spins freely. Replace the pump cover.

Place the sump pump back in the pit, reconnect the discharge pipe, and turn the device on. Test the pump to see if it starts to force water up and out of the discharge pipe again. If it does not, then contact a local plumber to figure out why the sump pump does not work. For more troubleshooting help, contact a company like All About Plumbing.