How Long Do Sump Pumps Last?
Sump pumps reliably last from seven to 10 years, but often much longer with maintenance. Be sure to monitor your older pump to head off disaster.
To myself and my neighbors in arid California, people with enough rainfall and a high enough water table to need a sump pump seem fortunate.
My friend who lives in the Detroit area would disagree.
His sump pump stopped working while the family was out of town, and they returned to a flooded basement and a big cleanup. They had to junk some expensive furniture they were storing there. Two years later, they’re still having a problem with persistent mold.
It’s easy to ignore a properly functioning sump pump, tucked into a corner of the basement, but that can be a serious mistake. Sump pumps, like water heaters, tend to draw attention only when they malfunction. A little TLC now can head off a big problem later.
How Long Do Sump Pumps Last?
Sump pumps don’t last as long as most people think. Warranty periods are typically about three years, and most plumbers recommend replacement after seven to 10 years.
Of course, many will last longer. Some models can last as long as 20 years, and certain pedestal models with pumps mounted on the basement floor have been known to last 30.
Many homeowners keep appliances long past the end of their recommended service lives, which can be economical but risky. We learned that the hard way when our well water pump, which was at least 30 years old, suddenly stopped working. We had to truck in water during fire season until we could get it replaced. The new pump cut our electric bill in half, a good indication we should have acted sooner.
Sump pump owners take heed, because sump and well pumps work in similar ways.
Should a Sump Pump Automatically Be Replaced After 10 Years?
Not necessarily. If it’s still in good working order, it could easily last another five to 10 years. However, to avoid disaster, monitor your older sump pump for these telltale signs of wear:
- It runs for a long time or never shuts off: This usually means it can’t handle the amount of water flowing into the sump pit. It could also mean the pump’s internal seals are worn. Either way, it’s wasting electricity, and the basement is at risk of flooding.
- It doesn’t run when it should: The float may be out of calibration or simply stuck, or the pump may be off-level. If you can’t correct the problem by repositioning the pump or manually adjusting the float, it’s time for a replacement.
- It runs but doesn’t pump: The intake port may be blocked, correctable with a good cleaning. But if there’s no blockage, the pump is probably shot.
- You can see rust: If there’s rust on the casing of a submersible pump, it’s a good bet internal parts are also corroded and about to fail.
Here’s a good strategy for homeowners who want to play it safe: Affix a sticker with the installation date in a prominent location near the pump. That removes the guesswork and lets you plan your budget well in advance.
How To Maximize Sump Pump Life Expectancy
It doesn’t take much maintenance to keep your sump pump running well and possibly increase its lifespan. A few maintenance tasks performed at least once a year (more often in wet conditions) won’t take more than an hour of your time.
- Check the level: This especially applies to pedestal pumps, but it’s also important for submersibles. The pump vibrates when it’s engaged, causing it to lean to one side or the other. That interferes with intake and makes the pump work harder. If your pump goes frequently out of level, consider installing some kind of bracing to hold it in place.
- Check the electrical outlet: A sump pump must be plugged into a GFCI outlet, and GFCIs sometimes trip in wet conditions. Push the reset button (the bottom one) to restore power to a tripped GFCI outlet.
- Test the pump: Pour enough water into the sump pit to trigger the float. Make sure the pump comes on and check the outflow. If the pump runs but the outflow is less than expected, look for blockages in the intake port and remove them. Sometimes debris is visible even before you do this test.
- Keep the sump pit covered: A cover prevents large debris from falling into the pit and getting stuck inside the pump.