How Long Can a Sump Pump Run Continuously?
Sump pumps are designed to run for long periods. But if yours is running continuously, there may be a problem.
The run-time of a sump pump depends on its quality and how much water the pump is taking in. A high-quality pump can run for 20-24 hours. A low-quality pump can run for 6-18 hours. Regardless of the quality, a residential pump should run in 20-minute cycles. The pump should stop once the water is removed, which typically takes 6 hours for a well-functioning sump pump.
What is a Sump Pump?
Some homes are susceptible to flooding and have something called a sump basin built into their basements. The sump basin collects the water that would otherwise flood the basement.
A sump pump pumps that accumulated water out of the sump basin and sends it outside. More permanent sump pumps are wired to run on the house’s electricity and have a backup battery.
Intermittent vs. Continuous Duty
Sump pumps have two types of motors: intermittent duty and continuous duty.
On average, an intermittent duty engine is designed to run for 20 minutes every hour. This type of engine can run longer. But that will drastically shorten the pump’s life.
A continuous-duty motor is designed to run 24 hours a day. It’s important to note that this type of sump pump should only be used if there is water in the sump basin at all times. Most households don’t need this kind of pump.
It takes a sump pump an average of 6 hours to remove all the water from the sump basin. So, unless you live in a major flood zone, you’re likely to have an intermittent duty pump.
Most newer sump pump models include a feature called thermal protection. This protects the motor from overheating by turning the engine off before it burns out.
This is a good feature to look for when purchasing a sump pump. It ensures the pump will last to its proper life expectancy.
Sump Pumps in Various Conditions
Sump pumps run differently in different weather conditions. The pump’s quality as well as the conditions determine how long the pump will safely run.
A high-quality pump can run continuously for 22-24 hours without issue. A low-quality sump pump is limited to running continuously for 6-18 hours.
The pump should not be running if the sump basin is dry. If it’s dry and pumping, there is a problem with the pump kit that needs to be addressed immediately. Otherwise, it could cause damage or stop the pump from working effectively.
Without high moisture levels, your pump should not run continuously. Sump pumps have a feature called a float switch that detects the water level and tells the pump when to run. In normal conditions, the water level shouldn’t be high enough to activate the pump.
If your house has a sump pump, it’s likely because excess water seeps through the soil and into the foundation after heavy rain. This is normal, especially if you live in a high-flood zone. You can expect to hear the sump pump working after heavy rain.
The pump may run continuously for 22-24 hours until the water is gone. This could continue for several days after the rain stops. A high-quality sump pump will remove the water faster.
If it seems like your sump pump is running continuously in the winter months, that’s probably because it is—more or less. The ground is constantly soaking up moisture during the winter, and much of that will seep through the foundation. Again, it’s normal.
You may hear the pump running several times throughout the day, which is a sign it’s working correctly. It may even run up to 22 hours a day depending on the moisture level at the time.
If you notice the pump running longer, you may have a problem. Sometimes, sump pumps run continuously if the discharge line freezes. That causes the pump to remove water even if the water level is low. Applying some heat tape to the pump is a quick and easy way to fix the problem.
If Your Pump Runs Continuously
Sump pumps can run roughly 22 hours in a day. Most residential sump pumps have intermittent-duty motors. Therefore, it should never be running continuously but rather pump in cycles. The cycles also shouldn’t run back to back. If they are, you have a problem.
If your pump is running continuously, it could be due to several issues. If the float switch is stuck, the pump is unable to recognize when the water level is low enough to stop pumping. You may possibly have a pump with a broken or missing check valve. Or the liner for your pump may not fit properly for your model. If your problem is any of these, it can be easily fixed by replacing the part.
If the problem isn’t mechanical, it may be geographical. The water table surrounding your property could experience excessive moisture. This may cause your pump to run continuously because it isn’t able to keep up. In that case, you may need to switch to a more industrial pump that runs at higher power.
The Lifespan of a Sump Pump
The average sump pump can last up to 10 years. If it’s functioning well, it can last that long while pumping water for an average of 6 hours per day.
Most residential sump pumps run intermittently in 20-minute increments. The length of time it takes to remove the water depends on the quality of the pump and how much water it’s taking in. A high-quality pump should run no longer than 24 hours. And a low-quality pump should run no longer than 18 hours. If it should exceed this length of time, it will overheat and cause damage.