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    Utility Pump Troubleshooting

    sump pump

    Here are some common symptoms, possible causes, and corrective actions for maintaining a utility pump.

    Symptom 1: Pump Motor Runs but No Water is Discharged

    If your utility pump runs but does not discharge any water, there are a few possible causes:

    • The pump is air-locked.
    • The pump is humming and not actually running.
    • The discharge hose or pipe is blocked or too restrictive.
    • The pump has not been primed.
    • The discharge hose or pipe is elevated too high.
    • The impeller or other internal component is worn or damaged.
    • The check valve is installed backwards.
     

    Go down the list of possible causes to determine the problem with the pump.

    Is the Pump Air-Locked?

    • Make sure the anti-airlock hole is clear of debris.
    • Lay the pump on its side and stand the pump upright while in the water to allow the air out, and water into, the impeller area.

    Is the Pump Just Humming?

    • See section called "Motor Just Hums and is not Really Running".

    Is the Discharge Hose or Pipe Blocked?

    • Check for blockages.
    • Read your owner's manual to see if there are maximum hose length restrictions that may prevent the flow of water.
    • Make sure you are not using a hose pipe that is narrower than the pump discharge.

    Is the Discharge Hose Elevated Too High?

    • Read your owner's manual to see what the maximum "head" capability is for your pump. The "head" capability is the maximum height a pump can lift water.

    Is the Impeller Worn or Damaged?

    • Examine the pump's internal parts to check for worn or damaged components.

    Is the Check Valve Installed Backwards?

    • Make sure the arrow on the check valve is pointing the right direction. Read your owner's manual for more information.

    Pump Motor Hums but Does Not Actually Run

    If your utility pump motor hums, but you do not think it is actually running, there are a few possible causes:

    • The pump is not receiving enough electricity.
    • The impeller is jammed.
    • The motor is locked.
    • The motor has failed.

    Is the Pump Receiving Enough Power?

    • Plug your pump directly into a power outlet without using an extension cord. If you must use an extension cord, make sure you are using a heavy-gauge power cord that can handle the amperage needed by the pump.
    • If you have a 12 volt pump, make sure the battery is completely charged.

    Is the impeller jammed?

    • Examine the impeller and clear out any debris that may have caused it to stick.

    Is the Motor Locked?

    • Make sure the cooling shroud and/or pump vents do not have any debris blocking them.
    • Make sure the pump has not shifted in the case. If so, straighten it.

    Has the Motor Failed?

    • If all items above pass the test, then your pump motor has failed and you probably need to replace the pump.

    The Motor Does Not Run or Make Any Noise

    If your utility pump does not run or make any noise, there are a few possible causes:

    • The pump is not getting any power.
    • The pump cord has a broken wire or is not plugged into the pump properly.
    • The pump switch has failed.
    • The internal connection or motor has failed.

    Is the Pump Getting Any Power?

    • Make sure the pump is plugged in. If so, make sure the outlet has power by testing it with some other item that requires electricity.

    Is the Pump Cord Broken?

    • Make sure the cord connection is secure.
    • Disconnect the cord from the pump and outlet. Use an ohmmeter to check the integrity of the electrical wires and replace them if necessary.

    Has the Pump Switch Failed?

    • If your pump has a power switch, check it with the ohmmeter and replace if necessary.

    Has the Internal Connection or Motor Failed?

    • Call a repair professional, or replace the pump.

    Insufficient Water Movement

    If your utility pump runs and pumps water but the volume of water is less than it should be, there are a few possible causes:

    • The discharge hose is too small.
    • The suction hose has an air leak.
    • Intake is blocked by debris.
    • The discharge hose is elevated too high.
    • The suction hose has collapsed and will not stay open.
    • The impeller or internal component is worn or damaged.

    Is the Discharge Hose Too Small?

    • Use a shorter hose with a larger diameter.
    • Make sure the hose has no kinks or coils.

    Does the Suction Hose have a Leak?

    • Make sure there are no air leaks in the suction hose. If you find some, you may need to replace the air hose.

    Is the Intake Blocked?

    • Clear the debris.

    Is the Discharge Hose Too High?

    • Read your owner's manual to make sure you are not elevating the discharge hose too high. Pumps have a maximum "head", or height they can pump water upward.

    Has the Suction Hose Collapsed?

    • Make sure you are using a reinforced suction hose to avoid collapsing or kinking.

    Is the Impeller Worn or Damaged?

    • Examine the pump's internal parts to check for worn or damaged components.

    Oil is in the Water around the Pump

    If you are seeing some kind of oil in the water around the pump, there are a few possible causes:

    • The pump has overheated.
    • The seal has become damaged and is releasing oil.
    • The water being pumped is too shallow and has caused the pump to overheat.

    Utility Pump Overheating

    • Submersible utility pumps may overheat from running too long. Make sure you are not using a utility pump in a pond or waterfall.
    • Submersible utility pumps may overheat from running in water that is too shallow. Submersible utility pump motors are cooled by the water that surrounds them. Without enough water, they will overheat.
    • Make sure you are not using your utility pump in a fish pong. Fish waste in the water can corrode the shaft seal and cause oil to leak out. This is not only bad for the pump, but it is toxic to fish. Use a fountain or pond pump instead.

    Impeller Wears Out Too Fast

    If the utility pump impeller is wearing out faster than it should, there are a few possible causes:

    • The pump was not lubricated prior to use.
    • There is sand, dirt, or other debris in the water that is causing wear.
    • The pump is moving some other type of liquid besides water.

    Is the Pump Properly Lubricated?

    • Read your owner's manual to see how to properly lubricate your pump.

    Is there Debris in the Water?

    • Make sure you are only using your utility pump to move clean water without debris.

    Is the Pump Moving Some Other Type of Liquid?

    • Make sure you are only using your utility pump to move water.

    Impeller is Broken

    If the utility pump impeller is broken, it is possible that the pump has picked up debris that has caused the damage. Make sure you are only pumping clean water free of debris when using a utility pump.