Why Is My Sump Pump’s Alarm Going Off? What Must I Do?

(Last Updated On: November 22, 2023)

If a sump pump alarm goes off, it is normally caused by one of two reasons. The first is that the water has risen higher than what the sump pump is typically able to handle. The second possibility is that there is water on the top of the pump and this has triggered the sensor and the alarm goes off.

Every alarm has to be investigated. If the sump pump’s alarm goes off you have to look into it immediately!

An alarm that goes off doesn’t always mean that there’s something wrong with the pump itself, but you need to check what causes it.

If the sump pump alarm goes off there are a number of things you can do to ensure the pump is working properly and the basement is not flooding.

We always recommend that you install an alarm that can link with your cell phone via WiFi. As well as a backup pump that can be turned on when required.

High Water Sump Pump Alarm

The high water alarm is normally located on the top of the sump pump, and it will beep like a smoke alarm when it gets wet.

A high water sump pump alarm will warn you when the water levels in the crawl space sump pump system or your basement is too high. This could potentially mean that the pump isn’t removing the incoming water fast enough. More about that later.

If the basement or sump pit’s water level exceeds the preset level, the alarm will alert you. Then take appropriate action to prevent the crawl space or basement from flooding.

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Check the Water Level in the Basin

It is normal for the pump basin to have some water, especially while it is raining. However, if it looks like the level is too high, something may be wrong. When this happens, check to see that the drain lines are clear and ensure that the pump is working properly.

How Fast Does the Water Rise?

Knowing this can help you decide what to do next. If it is no longer raining and the sump pump is still pumping the water out, the pump can likely handle the basement being a little more water flow than normal for short periods.

If it is still raining and the water rises as the sump pump does not cope with keeping the level down, this could be a problem.

In this case, you need an extra sump pump that can handle the additional volume of water. This could be a temporary pump that is used when needed. Or it could be a higher horsepower motor that replaces the current pump. However, you need that pump NOW. It might be wise to call the professionals.

Even a small flood in a basement can cause damages that will cost thousands of dollars to repair and may have a negative impact on the value of your home.

Always investigate immediately when you hear a high-water alarm. The sump pump alarm going off should get you to determine the cause immediately. Otherwise, you may be paying for a big repair bill!

First, make sure that the pump is working properly. Second, determine where the water is coming from and if something can be done about it.

Water rushing through basement door faster than the sump pump can pump the water out.
Water rushing through basement door faster than the sump pump can pump the water out.

How To Fix Your Sump Pump Alarm If It Keeps Going Off for No Reason

If the sump pump alarm goes off regularly without any apparent cause, you need to change something. To keep your sanity, ensure it does not go off for false alarms but only when there is an actual problem.

First, check to make water can’t normally get to the top of the sump pump where the alarm sensor is located. It could be that your sump pump is located in a place where water can pour on top of it under unusual situations.

You should also determine whether the sump pump alarm has actually gone off for a valid reason. This may be due to more water entering the sump pit basin than usual. In that case, you need a more powerful pump. 

If the cause of the sump pump alarm going off is a power failure, you may want to consider investing in a battery backup. This will ensure that the sump pump will still work even when the power has failed.

Need a New Sump Pump Alarm?

If you need a new sump pump alarm in your basement, or don’t have one, we recommend the Proteus L5 Wi-Fi Water Level Sump Pump Alarm shown below.

Wi-Fi Water Level/Sump Monitor Sensor with Buzzer, email/Text Alerts - Proteus L5
498 Reviews
Wi-Fi Water Level/Sump Monitor Sensor with Buzzer, email/Text Alerts – Proteus L5
  • Cloud enabled water/liquid level sensor. Get alerts when level crosses a set threshold. View live on cloud.
  • Connects to your home or office wifi. No hub or gateway required.
  • Ideal for water level monitoring, tank monitoring, basement sump pump water level detection
  • Easy set up, with back mount power plugs directly into wall outlet
  • Programmable alerts when water level goes above, or goes below set level.

Ensure the Pump Runs When Required

A sump pump uses a motor to pump out water. This means that when there is enough water, you should hear the motor come on and run. Although you ideally want it to be as quiet as possible, all sump pumps still make a distinctive sound.

If you can’t hear your sump pump running it may mean that the pump does not have power. Then if your home hasn’t lost power altogether, go through other options to check if you can restore the pump’s power. If this does not work, you may have to consult an expert.

Check For a Tripped Circuit Breaker or Blown Fuses

Your whole home hasn’t lost power but your sump pump does not work?

One possible reason may be that there is a tripped circuit breaker. Or in older homes a blown fuse. Check inside the electric power panel which is located where the powerline first enters the house.

Alarm Goes Off More Often Than It Should

If the sump pump isn’t large enough to handle the volume of water that flows into the sump basin, it could result in the alarm going off more often than it should.

This probably means that you have to upgrade to a new and probably bigger sump pump.

This happens more often than you may think. I built a retaining wall along a property line which changed the flow of water from the neighbor’s yard. Now the water no longer flowed across the driveway but under it instead. Which forced that water into the basement of the house.

Also, water tables might rise over the years due to several factors. Such as changing weather patterns, new roads and new housing developments.

A sump pump alarm going off often should never be ignored. Otherwise, you could have wet, moldy carpet and walls.

Sump Pump Beeping Noises

When a sump pump starts beeping, it may be due to a real problem or the alarm may simply indicate the pump is about to start running.

When you hear beeping noises unexpectedly coming from your crawl space or basement, you always need to check to make sure the area is not flooding.

Beeping from the pump may also mean that the alarm battery’s power level is weak.

Also make sure the pump’s alarm only goes off when there is really a problem.

Sump pumps normally have excellent built-in alerts and alarms so you need to investigate right away if you hear beeping.

Many sump pump alarms beep when they detect a problem. However, some high-tech pump alarms send text message alerts to a phone. When a power outage or flooding is detected the PumpSpy (shown below) will text you.

PumpSpy WiFi Sump Pump Smart Outlet with Sump Pump Water Level Sensor, 24/7Monitoring & Alerts, Works with any 120V Sump Pump, Has Additional Outlet for Backup System For Sump Pump, White
  • TURNS ANY 120V SUMP PUMP INTO A SMART DEVICE: PumpSpy WiFi Sump Pump Smart Outlet makes any sump pump into an internet-connected Smart Pump. This universal outlet is compatible with any 120VAC sump pump. PumpSpy sump pumps are recommended.
  • PUMPSPY 24/7 MONITORING: Download the PumpSpy app, connect the outlet to the Wi-Fi network, and then plug in your sump pump. Our computers automatically track incoming data from your pump and send detailed alerts via push notifications, text messages, or email. Your mobile device will receive alert details like power outages, high water levels, and blocked or frozen discharge lines.
  • WHAT YOU GET: You will get a Smart Outlet, a high water sensor, and a quick start guide. The Smart Outlet has a WiFi configuration button, two power outlets, and a connection for a high water sensor. The top outlet for the sump pump features a ring that glows to indicate the internet connection and pump status.
  • NO MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION: Keeping an eye on your basement’s water level on rainy days with this smart outlet is convenient and involves no monthly dues. Install the PumpSpy Technology app on your smartphone, and our team will handle the task for you. We’ll send details of your sump pump’s condition in real time!
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Backup Sump Pump Starts Operating

Alarms can sometimes happen when a home has a backup secondary sump pump that is battery operated. In which case the alarm will sound when there is a power outage.

A battery-operated backup sump pump is a good idea if seasonal storms or power outages happen in your area regularly. Backup pumps should ideally be able to run for at least 4 hours to give the power a chance to come back on.

Although backup batteries will only last for a limited period, they will go a long way toward preventing a catastrophic flood in the basement.

Never Unplug the Sump Pump

I helped to build an underground concrete dome home. A sump pump was installed but never plugged in. An unexpected heavy rainstorm flooded the basement. Luckily, very little construction work had been completed on that lower level. So, the resulting damage was minimal.

A sump pump alarm going off can’t be solved by unplugging the sump pump.

Hearing a pump alarm usually means that the pump can’t keep up with water flow. Unplugging the pump will just let the house flood even faster.

When a pump alarm goes off, something is likely wrong and you have to take action immediately!

Zoeller alarm systems (shown below) can be used with any of the Zoeller sump pumps.

Zoeller 771302 Plumbing-Fixture-Repair-Supplies
  • Longer battery life
  • Friendlier design
  • More compact and easy to install
  • CSA approved

Such as the 1/3 HP Zoeller M53 and the very popular and more powerful Zoeller M98 shown below.

Zoeller 98-0001 115-Volt 1/2 Horse Power Model M98 Flow-Mate Automatic Cast Iron Single Phase Submersible Sump/Effluent Pump …
  • 1/2 HP pump for residential sump pits or septic tanks
  • Automatic model with integral float switch, 1½” discharge, passes 1/2″ solids
  • Performance: 72 GPM at 5′ head, shut-off: 23′ TDH
  • All cast iron construction with stainless steel guard and handle
  • 100% factory tested

Sump Pump Alarm Won’t Stop

What do I do if the sump pump battery-powered alarm doesn’t stop? First, check that your pump system is operating properly. Second, check to make sure the house won’t flood.

Then check the power connections to the battery backup and pump. Also fill the sump pit to ensure the pump does not overheat. Additionally, check that the air temperature isn’t cold enough to freeze the water.

The most common causes of a sump pump alarm include:

  • Battery faulty or low battery power
  • Loose power cables
  • Low backup battery fluid. (Add distilled water if needed)
  • Circuit breaker may have tripped or an older style fuse may have blown.
  • GFCI power outlet has failed. To check this, plug in a different device to see if it works.

Turn Off and Reset the Sump Pump Alarm

Once you have determined the pump is working as it should, you should turn off and reset the alarm. There is a reset switch on most pump alarms and the interface can be used to re-enable different alarms.

Check the owner’s manual if you’re not sure how the alarm can be reset.

Remember that you’ll risk basement water damage if you disable the alarm permanently!

Getting Professional Help

Does the sump pump have trouble handling the volume of moisture in the basement area? It may be time to consult with a professional that will be able to assess the core problems you’re dealing with.

Professionals can quickly evaluate the problem while offering the most cost-effective and quickest option to solve the problem.

If a specific part causes the issue, repairs can often be made without you having to invest in a new system.

The cost of using a professional is very small compared to the potential health risks and damages you may have to face when issues with moisture are ignored for too long.

A single visit from a professional service call will fix some issues and this can save you a lot of money in the long run.

Last update on 2024-03-24 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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