How Long Can a Sump Pump Run Continuously?

Depending on the quality of the sump pump, it can run continuously up to 24 hours, but there are risks. Read this article to learn about problems with sump pumps running.
Written by Cheryl Knight
Reviewed by Carrie Adkins
Oct 14, 2021
Generally, sump pumps can run for six to 24 hours continuously, depending on how heavy the rainfall is and the quality of your pump.
The aftermath of torrential rains or even flooding puts a higher demand on your
sump pump
to keep your home’s low areas dry.
As you hear the pump run and run in its efforts to
prevent a water-logged basement
, it's natural to ask: How long can a sump pump run continuously? Read this guide by
Jerry
to find the answer to this question and other things to consider.
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Motor design affects how long sump pumps run

It's the sump pump’s motor design that determines how long it can run continuously. There are two types of motors: intermittent and continuous sump pump motors. As the names suggest, intermittent-duty motors run when needed, but will stop occasionally. Continuous-duty motors can run a long time without stopping.
Intermittent-duty motors run continuously for a bit and then take a break, which is usually sufficient to keep water out of low-level areas of your home and prolong the life of the sump pump motor. A continuous-duty motor can function non-stop for up to 24 hours under high demand to move water out of your home, but the motor does not last as long as an intermittent-style sump pump motor.

Potential problems when a sump pump runs continuously

Unless there's been heavy rains or your pump is located well below the water table beneath the basement floor, there's little reason for a sump pump to run continuously for a prolonged period. When a sump pump runs for a long time under non-rainy conditions, it may signal of a mechanical problem, such as:
  • Stuck activator switch
  • Broken valve
  • Improper installation
  • Insufficient size for the sump pit
You can
hire a plumber
who can check out your sump pump and determine if one of these problems exists. Then, you can decide if repairing or replacing the sump pump is the best solution.
Another issue that that may cause a sump pump to run continuously is a plumbing break. After all, a sump pump in good condition will run as long as it can continuously for as long as there is water to remove from your home.
In this event, you must address the cause of your sump pump’s constant running before
water damage
occurs.

Replacing a sump pump

Sump pumps can last 10 years or more, but many manufacturers recommended pump replacement every five years. In terms of cost, a new sump pump is usually between $100 and $200, and the labor to install it averages between $450 and $600. To maximize a sump pump’s life and mitigate issues like running continuously, you want to choose the right type of device and features for your home and needs.
  • Intermittent or continuous: Unless you reside in a high-flood risk area or experience seasonal high rains, there's little need for a continuous-duty sump pump motor.
  • Thermal protection: This additional feature detects when a pump motor gets too hot, initiating shutoff to protect the motor from burning out.
  • Horsepower: A pump with higher horsepower can handle greater demands, which can prevent mechanical failures.
When replacing a sump pump, proper installation is vital. So, unless you're skilled in plumbing and basic mechanics, it's best to leave the job to a professional instead of trying to save some money with a DIY attempt. A sump pump professional can verify the selected device is appropriate to your needs and ensure things like properly grounded electricity and sloped discharge lines that prevent clogs.
It's better to spend more up front to do the job right, which will save money down the road, prolong the life of your sump pump, and avoid the dangers of sump pump failure.
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FAQs

Can you leave a sump pump running?

If there's no water to pump, you should not leave a sump pump running. If you notice this behavior, get a plumber to identify the problem. Sump pumps that run when they're not supposed to can became faulty.

How long should a sump pump run after heavy rain?

It's normal for sump pumps to run two to three days after heavy rain. There is a lot of groundwater for the pump to filter out over time. However, if it takes longer, start investigating if the pump is actually still draining water.
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