Why Is Sump Pump Running Without Rain

A new basement sump pump.

Imagine coming home from shopping and you hear a loud noise coming from your basement. You head down the stairs and as you get closer into the basement the noise gets louder. As you walk through the basement, you approach your sump pump pit. It is completely dry, and yet your sump pump is still running. As a homeowner, this is a huge concern and you immediately call on your local master plumber. Why is the sump pump running without rain? The master plumber will tell you that parts could be jammed or malfunctioning.

Let’s take a look below at what the reasons are for your sump pump ot continue running without any rain.

What Is A Sump Pump

Sump pumps are generally found in a basement. Their sole purpose is to keep water out of your basement. If the basement is not waterproofed, then excess groundwater could enter the basement through various cracks and crevices. You will need something to pump the water out, otherwise, issues like mold and mildew could arise. The sump pump is placed in a pit and contains a motorized pump, electrical wiring, and piping to relocate the water. Also, have a battery backup sump pump. This will ensure that if you have a power outage from a storm, the sump pump will be able to continue to do its job.

What Causes This To Happen

Believe it or not, there are a variety of reasons for your sump pump to continue running even though there is no rain. It is important to understand how your sump pump works and its purpose for it. This will allow you to maintain it properly and keep it running correctly. Let’s take a look below at what can cause a sump pump to keep running.

  • Jammed float switch – once the water level in your pit reaches a certain level, the float switch will activate your sump pump. Since the sump pump will vibrate while it is running, it can easily pin the float switch up against the side wall of the sump pit. This would make the sump pump think it should stay in the on position. The wires or piping in the sump pump pit are other ways that the float switch is known to get stuck or cause a broken float switch. This will make the sump pump run nonstop.
  • Check Valve – water travels from the sump pit and up a long pipe called a discharge line. When your sump pump is installed, a check valve is placed on the discharge line. This is to prevent water from flowing back into the pit and keep your sump pump activated in a continuous cycle. If the check valve is damaged or somehow gets stuck open, then your sump pump will run continuously.
  • Drainage system issues – broken sprinklers can push water into your yard on a continuous basis. This will increase the water table around your basement and make your sump pump think it has to keep working. The pit will stay filled with water and continue to run until you have repaired your leaking sprinkler system. Additionally, broken sewer pipes can also make your sump pump run constantly.
  • Poor home placement – in some cases, your home is built just above the water table line. When you have heavy rains, the water table rises. This will end up prompting your sump pump to continuously work to keep the water out. Additionally, there could be rock formations that will redirect the groundwater to pool up around your home creating a high water table. This can cause major damage to your foundation and keep your sump pump working overtime.
  • Melting snow – although the ground will absorb a majority of the water that was created as the snow melts, some of it could enter the basement. The longer it takes for the snow to melt, the longer your water table will be high. This will cause the sump pump to run continuously.
This is what your sump pump pit looks like.

How Can I Prevent This

The easiest way to prevent your sump pump from running all of the time is to conduct regular maintenance. Also, consider waterproofing your basement. There are many ways that you can do this so that your foundation and basement are kept intact and free from water intrusion.

Other Recommended Maintenance

Now that you understand why your sump pump might run continuously without rainwater, it is a good idea to understand where the sump pump drains goes. In some cases, your sump pump plumbing could become damaged and cause your sump pump to drain into your yard. If this happens, reach out to a professional to diagnose the situation.

Next, continue to look into the best ways to prevent your basement from flooding during heavy rains. If your sump pump cannot handle the amount of water at one time, you will need other options to assist. Also, if the sump pump has been running continuously it will likely not function properly and reduce its capabilities of being efficient.

Lastly, knowing that your sprinkler system can cause your sump pump to continuously run, it is a good idea to read up on how to turn your sprinkler system back on after winter. In many cases, the sprinkler system can become damaged due to freezing conditions. Also, if you do not start the sprinkler system up as recommended and check each sprinkler head, you could end up with a massive leak.

This is a fairly dry sump pump pit.

When Do I Call A Professional

The moment that you notice your sump pump isn’t working properly you should call a plumber. Sump pumps are vital for keeping the ground water our of your basement. You wouldn’t want to come home to some major flooding if your sump pump and drain system fail. One of the ways a sump pump could fail is if it is overworked. A sump pump that is continuously running is not a good thing. Call a professional master plumber to inspect your system. If you aren’t sure who to call, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect the basement and your sump pump system. Also, they can recommend a reputable master plumber in your area.


Having a sump pump in your basement is key for keeping water out and preventing your basement from flooding. When working properly, a sump pump can effectively relocate the groundwater that is surrounding your basement and keep it from seeping into your home. Unfortunately, if any part of the sump pump malfunctions, it could have disastrous consequences. Reach out to your local home inspection team to ensure that the sump pump is working efficiently and installed properly. Call on Heartland Inspections services in greater Minneapolis St. Paul and surrounding areas for your home inspection needs. They will inspect your sump pump system and basement during a full home inspection.