Sump Pump Keeps Running With No Rain

It is good to hear your sump pump running and not go silent for long periods. But what if there is no rain? A sump pump is an essential tool that helps keep your basement clean, dry, and healthy. However, if there is no rain or flooding, it should not be running. This may have some severe repercussions, like the unit burning out. There are various issues that may cause your sump pump to run nonstop.

Your sump pump could be continuously running due to several reasons. Let’s take a closer look at the most common causes.


A Faulty Check Valve

If you are worried about why your sump pump won’t turn off even when there is no rain, it may have a faulty check valve. The check valve is at the vertical discharge pipe above the sump pump. The basic working mechanism of the check valve is that it allows water to flow one way. When the sump pump is running, the water flows up through the pipe. When the pump is not working, any water left in the pipe cannot go back down.

However, a failed or faulty check valve could mean that water could be going up and coming back down as the cycle continues. In this case, it is best to get the check valve inspected and changed. In addition, if you have a sump pump discharge outside, we advise that you check to ensure the exterior pipe is in perfect condition and that there is no clogging. If there is any blockage, it could be forcing the water to flow backwards through the same pipe and back into the sump pump pit.

Float Switch is Stuck or Obstruction

Your sump pump keeps running most of the time, it is because the float switch is broken or stuck. Sometimes the float switch may be stuck on the ‘up’ position and thus does not fall or rise with water levels. In this case, the sump pump will not know when to shut off. In most cases, you can easily fix this by manually adjusting the switch or using a can of WD-40. If you notice the switch won’t go down into the ‘off’ position, we advise you to get a new valve or just a new sump pump.

Increasing Groundwater Levels

A sump pump should continue running if there is water to pump out in normal situations. If the groundwater levels keep rising, this could be why your sump pump is constantly running even with no rain. The cause of rising groundwater could result from a nearby lake or river or a broken water pipe. It can be impossible to detect such waters from above the ground, as they tend to flood at the lowest levels in the home.

Rising Water Table

There are natural water tables and artificial water tables. Most of the time, the water levels of water tables may change due to lots of environmental or artificial causes. In most cases, the water table changes due to a river changing its course or a nearby lake.

Usually, the level should drop back to normal after some time. But if the water has nowhere to go, the water table will keep rising. If you notice the water table is high, and still your sump pump won’t stop running, there are possible flooding issues around your home. It is best to check them out and resolve them soonest.

Clogged Drain Line

The drain line is essential in the functionality of a sump pump. When a drain line is clogged, chances are your sump pump won’t drain the water in your basin. Although this may result from overtime dirt build-up, small particles and debris that pass through the drain line. The debris will make the pump overheat as it continues to pump but water cannot drain.

In worst cases, your sump pump will start smoking or steaming due to a malfunction. In addition, undrained water in your drain lines will cause an overflow in the sump pit, flooding the basement.

Melting Snow

It may not be raining, but there could be recent snowing in your area. This could cause your sump pump to constantly run due to increased water from the melting snow. The water from melting snow will seep into the ground and cause the water levels in your basement to rise. In most cases, some water seeps into the soil and some are absorbed by the plants. But, if it recently rained and the ground is still wet, you can expect to hear your sump pump running.

Should You Repair or Replace?

The average lifespan of a sump pump is ten years. So if you just had a new install but your pump keeps running endlessly, it is best to get a plumber to take a look and fix whatever the problem may be. However, if you have had your sump pump for close to 10 years, it is pretty old, and we advise it is the best time to replace it with a new one.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I turn off my sump pump?

It is not ideal for turning off your sump pump. The reason is that water can drain into your sump pit from anywhere. In the worst scenario, water can overfill your sump pump to the top of the weeping tile terminations and sometimes even the pit itself.

How long can my sump pump run nonstop?

Sump pumps can not run forever, but you can help prolong their lifespan. The average life expectancy of a sump pump is usually ten years. Sometimes, they act up as a result of wear and need replacing. How frequently your sump pump works can also affect how long it can run.

How long should a sump pump run per cycle?

Usually, a sump pump runs for 10 to 15 seconds per cycle.

Why does my sump run when it is raining?

When it is raining, water fills the sump pump pit, raising the float switch and causing the pump to turn on.


Sometimes hearing your sump pump turn on and start running when the sun is high in the sky can be worrying. It is better to understand the terrain of your surroundings and be sure to identify the source of the water flooding your sump pump pit. Also, if you consider the above causes we have explained, it should not be a worrying ordeal for you. Of course, it is also best to ensure your sump pump is in perfect condition to begin with.



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.

      Sump Pump Advisor