Sump Pump Won’t Stop Running: Reasons And How to Troubleshoot?

You need to check the sump pump float switch when your sump pump won’t stop running and draining your yard. It may have gotten stuck in the “on” position in the sump pit.

This causes the pump to feel the presence of water where there’s actually none and eventually wears out the pump.

We are here to help you find out your cause and look out for the future.

Safety First!

You will need to check your sump. The sump contains groundwater at the least and sewage at the best.

Exercise your freedom to wear gloves and a mask when handling any component mentioned here. This small step can help you smile longer.

What is Your Pump Type?

sump pump won't stop running

Sump pumps come in two basic models. Upright (pedestal) and submersible. A sump is a hole in your basement/pit where the pump is located in.

Pedestal pumps have a motor on top of the pedestal where it gets its name. The pedestal pump will have the pump at the base.

The motor will work from the top as it is not supposed to be wet. You should easily identify it with the on-off switch. The on-off switch should be clearly visible and out of the water.

A submersible pump is a combo-type pump where the motor is specially designed to operate underwater.

This type of pump is put inside the sump. The on-off switch is on the pump which can be underwater if there is any.

Once you have identified that you should always start off with the float switch.

What’s a Float Switch and Why Does It Matter?

Sump pumps use a buoyant floating mechanism to check if there is water in the basin. This float triggers a switching mechanism when it reaches the bottom to turn your water off.

This float must be made in a very lightweight manner to work properly.

This lightweight float design means that they can also get stuck on debris, snow, or gunk buildup on the base on the pump easily.

Basement water generally has all of these. Good quality sump pumps have mechanisms in place to stop that from happening.

However, they can fail without notice when heat comes into the picture.

When your utility sink pump keeps running for a long time, heat can cause wear on the mechanism in place to prevent floats from getting stuck.

This also makes the pump vibrate more than it should.

Shaking is bad since floats are already quite lightweight and a small shake can cause big problems. Mere vibrations along the liner of the pit can make the float switch get stuck.

Regardless of your pump type, these can cause issues like when your sump pump runs every 30 seconds.

So here is what you can do to troubleshoot the problem

  • Check Your Sump First

Sumps need to have lids to keep dirt away. Check if your lid is performing correctly. Then open it up to check the sump pump float.

Your float should be relatively free from dirt. Please remember that a sump pump is not designed to handle sewage.

If you see a lot of dirt and gunk in your sump, you may need to upgrade either your drainage system or your pump.

The sump pit should have little to no silt buildup if your drainage works properly. Silts can force the pump to float open. The sump pit foundation design can cause silts.

  • Check Your Sump Design

Sump foundations designed too low can have natural water buildup. Your home foundation soil has a natural level where water is present.

Known as the natural water table, a level exists where water resides inside the soil. This soil water can bring a lot of mud with it creating slit.

If you find that it runs every 30 seconds, you need to create a positive downgrade foundation for your sump housing.

Badly designed foundations will have water sloping towards your sump foundation. It is known in the industry as a negative downgrade foundation.

This causes water to seep in due to gravity. So, when a little water seeps in from the soil, your pump runs and then shuts down.

Continuous repetitive usage like this harms your pump a lot. This why your sump pump runs every 30 seconds unless there is a shut-off valve issue or you live in cold weather.

You can prevent a lot of future problems by ensuring proper design.

  • Check Your Sump Pump Float and Switches

why does my sump pump keep turning on and off

The most common point of failure would be your sump pump float getting stuck with mud or dirt.

The float is(generally) a buoyant plastic ball that contacts a switch when it rises along with the level of water. It should have an arm extending to the switching mechanism.

Give it a tug. Make sure it is moving freely. Clean it with jets of water or air pressure (canned air is a good alternative).

We recommend putting some waterproof lube to make sure it stays free regardless. A little bit of lube will go a long way here especially if your pump faces snow.

You should check with a little bit of water on the sump to see if the mechanism is working perfectly now.

  • Time to Check the Sump Pump Shut-off Valve

Sump pump sends the water to the district’s discharge line. This line tends to be a few feet long and generally shoots straight up from the sump.

Every time the pump shuts off, water present in this line falls back towards the pump.

Contractors use a shut-off valve to make sure the water doesn’t get in. It is called the shut-off valve or the check valve.

This valve is supposed to ensure that water doesn’t get back to the sump.

You can check it by putting some water through the pipe and see if any of it comes back. You should perform a basic cleanup with a water hose.

If the problem persists, you should change it.

You should also clean the shut-off valve if it keeps running continuously.

  • Check Your Heat

Most high-quality pumps can withstand rigorous usage, however the plastics cant. The plastic of your pump float can melt get stuck.

There would be plastics in your mounting mechanisms and switch ear as well.

Sump pump overheating is a major issue for submersible pumps. These pumps are made to operate while being submerged in water.

It is cooled by this water too. Without the water, these pumps over-heat. We recommend checking for heat wear such as bent metal parts or fused plastic parts.

Have you ever wondered why does my sump pump keeps turning on and off? It may be because of faulty wiring or valve.

The overheating can also be due to bad wiring. Check your wire connections and see if there is any leak there.

  • Check for Plumbing and Drainage Problems

If your sump pump keeps turning on and off when it’s time for your garden sprinklers, check your drainage system.

Maybe it happens a particular sink is used in your house. Then, check your plumbing. You should check your sump to see if the water has a particular type.

Gas leaks or boiler heat lines can cause issues with the pump as well. You should always be cautious and give those a little check to make sure everything is alright.

  • Do You Live in Cold Climate?

If your sump pump runs every 30 seconds and you live in a cold place, your discharge line is freezing.

Pour some boiling water through in your sump and later invest in a space heater or better insulation. Now, watch this video to learn another trick.


There is no cause for alarm if your sump pump malfunctions. You should be able to solve most of the issues mentioned above with a bit of tinkering.

We hope you can figure out why your sump pump won’t stop running. You should be able to use our directions to fix your problems as well.

Let us know how it went for you. Don’t forget to comment in case we missed anything.

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