How Long Should a Sump Pump Run?

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Every homeowner knows how basement spaces can be vulnerable. The basement of a house needs protection at every season from standing water. Whether it is a rainy season or winter, even a thunderstorm can kill the sound sleep of a homeowner if the basement is unprotected.

To make sure that your home basement is correctly protected from flooding or leakage, a quality sump pump will be a safe solution.

Now another question might have popped up in your mind.

How long should a sump pump run continuously?

Well, this article will wipe away all your questions regarding running a sump pump continuously.

Hang with me.

How Long Should a Sump Pump Run

Is it normal for a sump pump to run continuously?

For instance, a sump pump should be continuously activated, such as a sudden rise in the groundwater level due to heavy rainfall or irrigation. If it doesn’t happen, and the pump pit is empty as well as the pump is still working, of course, something is wrong.

However, sump pump run-time depends on the quality of itself. A top-quality sump pump can run 20 – 24 hours continuously. And 6 – 18 hours run time is normal for a low-quality sump pump. After that, it requires rest

If you don’t take action to solve the issue, be sure the pump will burn out soon. So, it is advisable to check every aspect behind the faulty operation of the sump pump. Several reasons are responsible for this type of endless work.

1. Faulty Float Switch

Many budgeted and cheap quality sump pump pits are made of plastic. As a result, the sump pump float gets clogged due to being stuck. The sump pump float switches respond to the water level in the sump pit, and the pump turns on and off according to the water level.

If any debris or waste gets clogged into the sump pit and the switch gets stuck to ON mode, the sump pump will continuously run even if there is no water to discharge.

Inspect your sump pump quite often whether any debris or waste gets clogged into it or not and fix the issue, if any.

2. Check Valve Issue

The correct functioning of a sump pump depends on the check valve because it prevents backtracking of the discharged water and returns to the sump pit.

Below ground level is where sump pumps are installed, and following an invasive manner, their discharged lines are threaded, from the bottom to the top, allowing the collected water to flow upwards.

While the water passes through the outlet, the gravity carries it all down until it is out of the home compound. So, if the check valve is damaged, the discharge water tends to return to the sump pit. As a result, the sump pump works in a loop and goes into overdrive.

3. Incorrect Size of the Sump Pit

The effectiveness of a sump pump relies on 2 components – the sump pit and the sump itself. A small-sized sump pump will not collect the amount of the water, so it pays compensation with an endless pump.

However, if the sump pump comes with the right size but the sump pit size is incorrect, you will face the overdue issue again. At this point, the sump pit will be unable to hold a massive amount of water at once, so it fills up within a short time, and the pump activates the float switch. Finally, the sump pump will show constant working.

If you find any of the above problem, do make late to solve the issue. Make an appointment of an expert, if necessary.

However, at the end of this article, I have discussed regarding maintenance of a sump pump. Look at that section if you want to save some bucks.

How long should a sump pump run in the Winter Season?

Undoubtedly, you will require service from your sump pump quite often during winter. Even if it runs, it shouldn’t run for an extended period.

During winter, the sump pumps continue to run when the snow melts, and the pump accumulates in the pit stage to force the float switch to operate and force the pump to work.

As I stated earlier, if the case is dissimilar to the above states, and the sump pump runs endlessly, there may be a problem with its operation, probably due to winter being unsuitable.

Sump Pump Maintenance 

Sump pump requires quarterly and annual maintenance. It is advisable to do routine maintenance every after 3 – 4 months if you want to get the best service from your sump pump.

Maintenance Task – Quarterly

  • Unplug the sump pump to avoid any sudden start. Make sure inside the basin, there is no standing water.
  • Also, clean the basin thoroughly to remove any debris. The inlet screen of the sump pump has to be clear and obstruct-free.
  • Now plug the sump pump to the electric power source. Then pour 5 – 6 gallons of water into it. This way, you will understand whether the float switch turns the pump on/off properly or not.

Maintenance Task – Annually

  • The sump pump needs to be unplugged and then check the basin. If you find any presence of rust inside the basin, clean it.
  • The pump inlet screen needs to be cleaned.If the sump pump bearing needs oiling or lubrication, look at the manufacturer manual before proceeding to the process. Don’t use any oil or grease, which is not recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Inspect the sump pump basin.
  • Before plugging it to any power source, make sure the pump is reinstalled correctly.
  • To observe the performance of the float switch, pore 4 – 5 gallons of water into it.
  • Make sure any dust or debris does not clog the sump pump discharge pipe.

However, if you maintain quarterly maintenance, your annual maintenance will be more comfortable.


I believe, by now, you have already understood “how long should a sump pump run” and the reasons behind getting improper performance from a sump pump.

It is significantly essential to do proper maintenance to get the best service from your sump pump. Otherwise, you will have to cost more $ to get rid of your home basement's standing water problem.

Last Updated on February 28, 2021 by Alexander A. Smith

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