What to Do when My Sump Pump Float Is Stuck?

When the sump pump float is stuck, the water in your basement may not be pumping out. This can cause a dangerous situation if you have standing water, as it could lead to mold growth or other complications. Fortunately, there are several steps that you can take to fix this problem and get your sump pump working properly again.

A blocked float is typically straightforward to repair, but it might also indicate more serious problems with your sump pump system. If you want to avoid encountering any problems with your sump pump, consider having it inspected regularly.

This blog post will show you what to do when your sump pump float is stuck and some tips on preventing this issue from happening in the future.


Vertical Floats vs. Tethered Floats

The two main types of sump pumps use vertical floats and those that use tethered floats. A vertical float sits on top of the water level in your sump pump basin, and as the water rises, it trips a switch to activate the sump pump. A tethered float is tied to an arm or rod attached to your sump pump, and it moves up and down with the water.

Knowing which type of float you have to determine the best way to fix your sump pump. Vertical floats are typically more reliable but wear out faster than tethered floats.

If you want to learn more about these different types of floats and how to replace them, just keep reading below.

How to Fix a Stuck Float

If your sump pump has a vertical float, you must clean it thoroughly before attempting repairs. Use warm water mixed with dish soap or vinegar to remove any mineral deposits from the inside and outside of the float. This may require several rounds of cleaning, depending on how badly clogged up it is.

Once the float is clean, check to see if it moves freely. If it does not, you will need to replace it with a new one. Simply unscrew the old float and screw in the new one.

If your sump pump has a tethered float, you will need to check the tether to see if it is kinked or broken. If so, you will need to replace it with a new one.

You may also need to adjust the length of the tether so that the float can move up and down freely. To do this, loosen the nut on the tether and adjust it as needed. Once you have adjusted the tether, just retighten the nut and check if the float moves freely.

If the float still does not move freely, you will need to replace it with a new one. Just unscrew the old float and screw in the new one.

Tips for Preventing Stuck Floats in the Future

Both types of sump pumps can be prone to get stuck, and there are several things that you can do to reduce this risk.

Cleaning up Pit Debris

If you have a sump pump with a vertical float, it’s important to keep the pit clean so that the float can move freely. Debris in the pit can cause the float to become stuck, so regularly remove any leaves, dirt, or other debris.

Tethering the Float

If your sump pump has a tethered float, you can avoid getting stuck by tethering it to the side of the pit. This will keep it from moving too far up or down and becoming stuck. You can use a zip tie, rope, or another type of tether to do this.

Activating Switch Problems

If you have a sump pump with a vertical float switch, it’s also important to inspect this on a regular basis. Sometimes the valve that controls the water level can become loose or corroded, which can cause your pump to activate when it should not.

Replacing an Old Sump Pump

One of the best ways to avoid problems with your sump pump is to replace it with a newer, more reliable model. If your sump pump is several years old or has frequent problems, it’s probably time to upgrade.

Getting in Good Habits

The best way to avoid problems with your sump pump is to get into good habits. You should always check that it’s working properly before a heavy rainstorm, and keep an eye out for any signs of wear or damage so you can repair it as needed.

Fixing Rusted or Damaged Floats

If your sump pump’s float is stuck due to rust or other damage, you can repair it with a few simple tools and supplies. First, you’ll need a rubber mallet (or other types of non-sharp tool) to tap the float back into place and some lubricant (such as WD-40) to remove the corrosion and keep it moving smoothly.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the causes for a sump pump float to stick?

There are several reasons why a sump pump float might get stuck, including debris in the pit, corrosion of the float or switch, and problems with the valve that controls the water level.

How do you reset the float on a sump pump?

Follow these simple steps to reset the float on your sump pump:

  1. Unplug the sump pump from the outlet and remove any debris from the pit.
  2. Lubricate the float with a non-corrosive lubricant, such as WD-40.
  3. Gently tap on the stuck float with a rubber mallet or similar tool to free it up and get it moving freely again.
  4. Once the float moves freely, plug the sump pump back in and check to see if it’s working properly.
  5. If the float still doesn’t move, you may need to replace it with a new one.

How often should I check my sump pump?

You should check your sump pump before every heavy rainstorm and regularly inspect it for any wear or damage signs. If your sump pump is several years old, or if it frequently gets stuck, you may need to replace it with a newer model.

Final Words

Nobody likes when their sump pump gets stuck and stops working in a heavy rainstorm, but there are some steps you can take to avoid this problem. By keeping your sump pump clean and well-maintained, tethering the float, and replacing it with a newer model when needed, you can reduce the risk of getting stuck floats.

Thanks for reading! We hope this article was helpful. Contact a local professional today if you have any further questions about stuck floats or need help upgrading your sump pump.‚Äč



Bill is a DIY plumber, handyman, and homeowner with more than a decade of experience. He has replaced and repaired sump pumps, backup pumps, float switches, check valves, and many other things around his family home. An engineer and tinkerer at heart, he is always looking to see how things work and taking on new home projects that help him grow his skillsets. He is a husband and father of two boys, has a bachelors degree in Computer Engineer and minor in Mathematics and likes to make homebrew beer in his free time.

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