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Handling a sump pump failure


Phoenix is warm and dry most of the year. However, there are times with excessive amounts of rain, during which crawl spaces or basements can flood. Even though most people living in Arizona may not think they need a sump pump, there are some homes that have them. They can be easy to take for granted until you have a sump pump failure.


You may need a sump pump if:


  • Your home has a basement.

  • Your home sits on a shallow water table. You can view the interactive map on the Arizona Department of Water Resources’ website to learn about your groundwater levels.

  • Your home is on a slope and has “negative grading.” This means that storm water may flow downward, toward your house. This can cause water damage if ignored.

  • The city sewer line is above the exit of the sewer for the property.

How a Sump Pump Works


The majority of homes in the United States experience below-ground wetness. Business properties may even have basements that can experience water collection. It doesn’t take much water to cause thousands of dollars in damages.


Installing a sump pump at the lowest point of a property helps prevent flooding. After the water goes into the sump pit, it’s pumped away from the building.


Types of Sump Pumps


One type of residential sump pump installation is external. If your home experiences high water levels and you’re concerned about your foundation, this may be a good option.


Internal sump pumps can be either pedestal or submersible. A pedestal sump pump sits above a hose that descends into the pooled surface water. Submersible sump pumps are located where the action is, in the area where water accumulates.


Installing a sump pump is not a do-it-yourself job. The installation has risks for the untrained person ranging from electrical dangers to potable water contamination.


Sump Pump Failure


One of the most common causes of sump pump failure is improper installation. Avoid this by hiring a professional to install your system. Other causes of sump pump failure include:


  • Clogged discharge line. If the water can’t make it through the discharge line, it can’t be pumped out. Dirt, sticks, rocks, and debris can block the discharge pipe. You can protect the pipe’s exit point with a grate. You can also include other openings that can divert water flow if there’s a blockage between the sump pump and the exit.

  • On/off switch problem. Similar to a toilet, a float mechanism triggers the action in a sump pump. If the float arm is stuck, the on/off switch can’t operate properly.

  • Power surges. You probably have a surge protector on your television. A power surge can damage the electrical components of your sump pump, too. Consider protecting your system with a surge protection device.

  • Power failure. It’s not uncommon to lose electricity during the heavy rains of the monsoon. Have a backup generator with a manual activation to keep your pump running.

  • Wrong size. If your sump pump is too small, it can’t handle the floodwater. If your sump pump is too large, it has to work harder, which limits its longevity. Your sump pump should be installed by a plumbing professional who can determine the proper size.

  • Manufacturer defect. It’s rare, but it does happen. Always register new product warranties when required. Be sure your plumbing professional explains the parts, product guarantees, warranties, a