How Often Should a Sump Pump Run

If you’ve got a basement, you likely have a sump pump. It’s a fundamental component of your water system and protects your basement floor from flooding.

Though they’re important, most people don’t know how they work and typically ask: how often should a sump pump run?

What Is a Sump Pump and a Sump Pit?

sump pump

A sump pump is a device that sits in a sump pit (sump basin). It’s always on standby and should never run constantly. It only activates when the house begins to flood.

How Does the Sump Pump Work?

Sump pumps feature a float switch, which is activated by water. Overall, it turns your sump pump on, and that’s submerged in the sump pit. As the house gets oversaturated, water builds up in the hole.

Once the pump turns on, water is drained from the pit and taken away from the home to a dry well, drain, or detention pond.

Why Do You Need a Sump Pump at Home?


Basements are notorious for collecting excess water, especially when it rains. Therefore, you need pedestal sump pumps as part of your basement water system to prevent flooding and other issues.

[Related: How Much Does Sump Pump Installation Cost in Arizona?]

How Often Should a Sump Pump Run?

sump pump draining water

The pump should only turn on when it’s necessary. You may find that the pump turns on more often if you live in an area susceptible to flooding.

What Size of Sump Pump Is Needed at Home?

There’s no correct answer on the right size of a sump pump. Most homeowners can use a 1/3 HP option, but the 1/2 HP version doesn’t cost much more and might ensure that the sump pump works correctly.

[Read: What Size of Sump Pump Do I Need for My Home?]


Is It Normal for a Sump Pump to Run Every Three Minutes?

The short answer is: It depends. Typically, if there’s a lot of water in the area, expect to see the sump pump running constantly or every few minutes.

How long can your sump pump run continuously? 

It should only do so when there’s too much water in the pit. If the sump pump runs all the time with no water flowing into it, then you’ve got an issue, such as a broken check valve or something worse.

How Often Should Sump Pumps Kick On?

Assuming it’s in good operating condition, the sump pump system should only run when the float switch is activated by the water level. Generally, this is two to three times per day.

Is It Normal for a Sump Pump to Run Every Minute?

No, it’s not normal for a submersible sump pump to run every minute. Does your sump pump run constantly? That indicates you don’t have a significant increase in your area’s water table, and something might be wrong with the discharge pipe or the unit itself. 

In other words, sump pumps run when they sense excess water, and that’s not your case.

Why Is My Sump Pump Running so Often?

Sump pump operation should be simple, but sometimes, it runs too often.

If your sump pump turns on, it might indicate that the float switch is stuck in the “on” position. You may also have a bad check valve. Sometimes, the drain tile dumps too much water in, and that causes a problem, too. Alternatively, you could have a clogged discharge line.

Why Is My Sump Pump Running so Often In the Winter?

old basement sump pump

Homeowners often think that they don’t need to use a sump pump in winter. However, that’s not always the case. Still, if it’s running continuously and there hasn’t been heavy rain, you might not have removed the flex hose. This connects the plastic drain piping along the exterior of the house and directs water away from the foundation.

The flex hose could freeze up, causing the sump pump to engage to pump out the moisture in the pit, but the hose blocks it. That might cause the device to overheat and stop working, leading to you having to buy a new sump pump.

[Related: How to Winterize Hose Bib (The Right Way)]

Why Is My Sump Pump Running When There Is No Rain?

Your unit might continue running even if there’s no rain because of excess groundwater. It can come from various sources, such as broken pipes, nearby construction, and rivers. During winter, you might notice a higher groundwater level because the snow is finally melting on a warm day.

Is Your Sump Pump Running Smoothly?

Generally, if it’s running nonstop, that indicates a problem. However, you may have an underground spring, standing water, or other issues. You may want to hire a local plumber to take a look.

Stellar Plumbing can help you troubleshoot the problem. It’s best to call us if you suspect an issue because leaving it alone could cause costly repairs later. We will check every component to ensure that it’s working correctly.

If not, we offer advice on ways to fix it. Sometimes, a new sump pump system is required, but we always discuss your options before doing anything.

Get in touch with us for a quote today!