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How Long Can A Sump Pump Run Continuously

How Long Can A Sump Pump Run Continuously

How Long Can a Sump Pump Run Continuously?

Sump pumps are a crucial part of many home plumbing systems, serving to protect houses from water damage caused by excess water buildup. They’re typically installed in the lowest part of a basement or crawlspace and designed to pump water away from a home’s foundation and into a nearby storm drain or dry well. The use of a sum pump helps prevent water from seeping into basements and crawlspaces, causing damage to walls, floors, furniture, and other personal items stored in these areas. Sump pumps are particularly important in houses located in areas with high water tables or prone to heavy rains, as they help prevent water damage and mold growth. With proper installation and maintenance, sump pumps can provide safe, reliable protection for homes for many years.

What’s a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a device used to remove water that has accumulated in a sump basin that’s typically located on the lowest floor of a residence. The pump is designed to prevent water damage by removing water before it reaches critical levels and causes flooding and other types of water damage to a house.

How Do Sump Pumps Work?

Sump pumps work by using an electric motor to power an impeller or rotating device, which then moves water out of the sump basin and away from the building. The water is usually pumped into a drain or outside and away from the foundation of the home or building. When water levels in the sump basin rise, it activates a switch, which then turns on the pump. The pump continues to operate until the water has been reduced to what’s considered a safe level. After the pump has run for a period of time, it will automatically shut off when the water level in the sump basin drops below a certain level. The cycle then repeats as needed to keep lower levels of a home or basement dry and free from water damage.

Why Is My Sump Pump Running Continuously?

Unless your pump is installed in an area that’s well below the water table, your device shouldn’t be running continuously. In situations where there’s flooding or excess water threatening your home, your pump can work continuously for up to 22 hours without showing signs of breakdown or fatigue. Standard household models are designed to work for six hours, showing signs of wear and tear with excess water volume. Many homeowners have questions about whether a septic system can run continuously. We’ll take a look at different situations that you may find yourself in to protect your sump pump and your house from damage.

After Heavy Rains

Excess water after a heavy rainfall requires that your sump pump put in some overtime to keep your home safe and dry. You can expect to hear the familiar drone of your pump longer than usual to compensate for the extra moisture seeping toward your foundation. Your sump pump could cycle on and off continuously for a few days to extract all the excess water from the foundation and allow the area to dry out. If your pump keeps running after rains have subsided, however, you may have another issue to deal with.


During winter, your property may stay saturated with extra moisture for months. High water tables and saturated soil means that moisture is regularly making its way toward your foundation. It’s normal for your sump pump to run several times a day in these situations. As spring approaches, it’s not uncommon for a high-end pump to be working nearly 22 hours a day to drain water away from your house. If your pump seems to be running continuously in the winter, you could have a frozen discharge line, causing the pump to extract and remove water even when volume isn’t excessive. Heat tape on the discharge line should be adequate for thawing out components and restoring proper function again.

Normal Conditions

Regardless of weather or soil conditions, your sump pump should never be consistently pumping for days on end. Your pump has a float switch; this acts as an automatic water meter to let your device know when to start removing water from the sump well. Unless you experience torrential rains or flooding into your basement, your pump shouldn’t be constantly activating this switch.

Can a Sump Run While Dry?

The majority of pumps will not function dry for very long. They’ll likely break due to overheating or damage to other areas of the pump. If your pump is running during dry seasons, then something is amiss.

Why Do Pumps Run Continuously?

Your sump pump shouldn’t be running continuously. It’s not uncommon for it to cycle back to back if there’s a large volume of water to deal with. However, if your pump fails to turn off, then there’s likely a mechanical issue due to one of the following scenarios:

  • Float switch malfunctions
  • Overloading of mechanical components
  • Power fluctuations that cause your unit to run continuously
  • Clogged discharge pipes
  • Wiring issues
  • Pump damage or defects

How Long Is Too Long?

If your pump is running dry or pumping continuously for over 22 hours, you’re at risk for sump pump failure. Constant running for more than a day at lower than normal water levels can cause switch issues, engine braking, or overheating. Pumps that work overtime or at higher volumes are expected to break down sooner than expected. Standard pumps with proper maintenance and repair can last from 12-15 years. Failure to maintain and repair your sump on a regular basis could shorten your pump’s lifespan by as much as three to four years.

High-end, commercial pumps are made for pumping large volumes of water for longer periods of time. While it’s uncommon to see a pump like this installed in a residential home, these efficient machines can last for up to 20 years with proper maintenance and care. Even with the added assurance of better quality, your pump shouldn’t have difficulty keeping up with volume and showing signs of continuous cycling.

Simple Care and Maintenance Steps for Your Pump

To ensure that you make the most of your sump pump and its lifespan, take these steps for proper care and maintenance.

Clean Your Pump

Have your pump cleaned and inspected regularly to remove debris and sediment that may clog pump components as well as to prevent clogging and damage to your unit.

Test Your Pump

Have your pump tested and evaluated regularly to ensure that it’s functioning properly. Pour one to two gallons of water into your sump pit to ensure that it turns on and reduces water levels in the pit.

Get It Professionally Inspected

Have a sump pump professional regularly inspect and service your pump annually to ensure that it’s in good condition and working as intended. Scheduling this inspection prior to spring will give you peace of mind that you’er ready for the spring thaw and additional rain.

We’ve Got Your Sump Pump Covered!

Crystal Blue Plumbing and Heating has been proudly serving valued clients of Sacramento and the surrounding areas since 1976. We go above and beyond to meet customer needs with services such as HVAC heating, cooling, installation, plumbing repair, drain and sewer services, repiping, water heater service, and sump pump service and repair. Don’t let the spring rains sneak up on you and cause damage to your home! Contact Crystal Blu Plumbing and Heating today to schedule your sump pump inspection.