Are you concerned that the sump pump in your home is near the end of its life and may soon give out? As with any appliance, a sump pump can only last for so long before it either stops working effectively enough or just dies. Replacing your sump pump before this happens is obviously important for preventing water from flooding your basement or crawl space. Here, we’ll look at how long sump pumps usually last. We’ll also detail what factors can affect their lifespan to make it easier for you to determine when to replace the pump in your home.

Average Lifespan for a Sump Pump

Most sump pumps last for around seven to 10 years, but it’s also not that uncommon for a sump pump to give out after only five years or so. There are also situations where a sump pump can last for 15 to 20 years or more. However, this is fairly rare, and most experts recommend replacing your sump pump after 10 years. This is because the older the pump is, the greater the chance there is of it suddenly failing to work when needed and your crawl space or basement flooding.

Factors That Can Affect Sump Pump Lifespan

The lifespan of sump pumps can vary a bit based on the type of pump, how much use it gets and whether it is properly maintained. Pedestal sump pumps typically have a slightly longer lifespan than submersible pumps. The primary reason that submersible sump pumps often have a shorter life expectancy is that they are located inside the sump basin instead of on top as pedestal pumps are. This means that submersible pumps are often underwater, which can lead to them eventually rusting or experiencing damage.

While pedestal sump pumps often last longer, it depends a lot on how often they need to run continuously for a prolonged period. Submersible pumps can run for a long time with minimal issues because the water that surrounds them while they’re running helps to keep them cool and prevent overheating. If a pedestal pump has to run for a long time, its motor can end up overheating and suffering damage or burning out.

Although it may sound counterintuitive, sump pumps typically last longer if they have to run more frequently. When the pump runs, oil moves through its motor to keep everything lubricated. If the pump goes for a long period without ever running, it can sometimes give out the next time it has to run due to a lack of lubrication.

The size of the sump basin can also directly impact the lifespan of a sump pump. Smaller basins will obviously fill up with water more quickly. This often leads to a sump pump cycling on and off more often, which can shorten its lifespan. A similar factor is the size of the sump pump itself, i.e. how powerful of a motor it has. A unit with a smaller, less powerful motor will pump more slowly, which reduces how often it needs to cycle. A pump that is too large can pump the water out of the basin so quickly that it frequently turns on and off, which can shorten its lifespan. However, you also don’t want a pump that is too small or else it may not work effectively enough to prevent flooding during heavy rains.

Another factor is the “vertical head,” which is the height that the water needs to travel from the sump basin to where the discharge pipe changes direction and exits the house. The greater this height is, the more pressure the pump has to produce to move the water. This means the pump has to work much harder, which can shorten its lifespan if it’s not sufficiently sized.

The Importance of Testing and Maintaining Your Sump Pump Regularly

Sump pumps often just suddenly stop working, which is why you should always test to make sure your pump is working before the rainy season arrives. In San Jose, this means testing your pump sometime in the late fall or early winter since our wet season typically lasts from around November to March.

Testing a sump pump involves using a bucket or hose to fill the sump basin with enough water that the pump begins running. When testing your sump pump, you want to make sure that it is working effectively and pumps all of the water out of the basin fairly quickly. Most sump pumps are capable of pumping somewhere between 40 and 55 gallons of water per minute. That means that the pump shouldn’t run for more than a minute or so if you filled the basin up almost all the way to the top. If it takes a long time for the pump to empty the basin, it obviously indicates it isn’t working effectively. This may mean the pump is beginning to wear out, but it can also be a sign that the intake filter is clogged and you need to clean it.

The intake filter on a sump pump often gets clogged with mud and debris. This is why it’s a good idea to remove the pump from the basin and clean the filter before testing it. The filter on a sump pump should be cleaned at least yearly, but you may need to clean it more often during the rainy season when the pump runs fairly often. It’s also a good idea to wash and clean all of the gunk, slime and rust off of the pump itself at least once a year. This can help it to last longer.

When the pump is running, you should also listen to make sure it isn’t excessively loud and doesn’t make any unusual noises. Loud or unusual noises are typically a sign that either the motor is beginning to wear out or the pump needs to be repaired.

The fact that a sump pump will often have it shorter lifespan if it sits idle for a long time means that you may want to test it a few times a year. That means testing it before the start of the rainy season and then testing it again a few more times during the dry season when it sits without running.

How to Know When to Replace Your Sump Pump

Replacing your sump pump before it finally gives out is obviously important for preventing flooding. Luckily, there are some signs that can help you know when your pump is at risk of failing and should be replaced. One obvious sign is if you have an old pump that works slowly and stays on for an extremely long time. Another sign is if the pump sometimes cycles on more often than necessary. This usually occurs because there is an issue with the float that is causing it to engage when it doesn’t need to.

One last thing to watch for if you have a submersible pump is rust build-up around the base. The body of the pump is sealed to prevent water from getting inside its motor. However, rust can corrode the pump and lead to water getting inside it and ruining the motor. This is why you should always replace the pump as soon as you notice it’s started to rust.

Your Trusted Plumbing Specialists

Ribbs Premier Service Plumbing has been serving the San Jose area since 1997, and our team is ready to expertly handle all of your plumbing needs. Whether you need to install a new sump pump or need any other plumbing installation or repair services, give us a call and we’ll ensure the job gets done right.

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