Mar 042013

A jammed or clogged sump or sewage pump will eventually heat up internally and the motor will shut itself down. There is a thermal overload switch inside the pump that will automatically sense that the pump has cooled down and eventually the pump will try to run and pump again.

The thermal overload switch will protect the pump motor from overheating and burning out the electrical windings of the motor.

There is a limit to how long the thermal overload will last, we have been told by various motor manufacturers that this heat sensitive switch will last up to 20 days of heating up and cooling down.

In most cases, within a 20 day period the property owner or someone will notice that the pump is not running and will have it removed and checked. Beyond that 20 day time frame the motor could be permanently damaged and a dead short in the windings will cause the circuit breaker to fail. By that time the pump would have to be repaired or replaced.

Depending on the critical nature of the sump or sewage pump, a high water alarm would warn the property owner that this pump is not working and steps could be taken long before the pump is damaged or a flood occurs.

Jammed/Clogged 2 inch Sewage Pump

Jan 152013

If you are a Commercial Plumbing Contractor you probably know that building redundancy into your mechanical systems is a good thing. In fact in many states the building codes requires a duplex pumping system for wastewater pump systems.

Some states, like Wisconsin, go as far as specifically requiring a pump and basin sizing formula. This formula essentially insures that the proper size equipment is used in order to meet the demand of the inflow based on the water that supplies the plumbing fixtures.

The SSPMA (Sump & Sewage Pump Manufacturing Association) also has a set of standards or “best practices” that guide the Plumber and Plumbing Designer on what will work too. In many cases the individual state codes have incorporated the SSPMA’s tried and true methods into their plumbing requirements.

The link below will get you to the SSPMA sizing guide lines power point and will fill you in on general pump system sizing terminology and methods.


As far as Wisconsin plumbing codes goes, the Pro’s at Jim Murray, Inc. actually have a State of Wisconsin DSPS continuing education class where both simplex and duplex sizing is covered.

The Pro’s at Jim Murray, Inc. can also help you reverse engineer a pump system in the event that and existing pump data or information due to age is not available.

Sep 182012

For the first time in over a decade a lot of homeowners have mentioned that their sump pump has stopped running on a regular basis. Hard to believe, but it is true that the water table has subsided and homeowners who had pumps that cycled steadily have dried up. This is also a signal that your foundation may be settling . Please click on the below link to read an article about looking for new cracks and movement in your foundation.

The Daily Reporter, 9-5-12, Fault Lines: Foundation Repair Companies Blame Drought for Increase in Basement Cracks

This is also an opportunity to remove and clean your drainage sump basin and pump. Yes, if you are mechanical, you can remove your pump from the sump basin and take an empty coffee can or shop vac and collect the silt, rock and construction debris that has settled in your basin over time.

While the pump is out, it would be a good idea to inspect and remove any stones or sticks that may be in the intake. Hose off any mud that may have built up on the pump. Inspect the check valve too; that is a wear item that can easily be replaced. Consider replacing it with a new silent check valve.

Reinstall your pump the same way it came out. Check your owners manual for other details. Use a garden hose or a large bucket of water to carefully fill your sump basin and activate the pump several times. Job Complete!

If you have a sump basin that is relatively clean, I would suggest adding water as mentioned above and allowing your pump to cycle several times. Exercising your sump pump during dry weather is always a good idea.