If you have a basement, you know how convenient it is for storing both valuable equipment and all sorts of junk.
However, this means you have to deal with flooding, especially if you live on low land.
Luckily, sump pumps carry water away from the basement, keeping your home safe from natural calamities.
Improper placement, faulty impeller, or damaged pipes can cause sump pumps to create excessive noises. If you ignore the sounds, skip maintenance, or forget to replace worn-out parts, you'll leave the sump pump for failure and breaking down. Once the pump stops working, floods can damage your home the next time a storm passes through your area.
While it's normal for sump pumps to make minimal noise, loud banging, grinding, or vibrating sounds usually imply there's something wrong with the machine.
To ensure you won't be having noise and flooding problems, we'll dive into how you can identify the different sounds that sump pumps make, and apply the corresponding solutions to fix the issue.
Types of Sump Pump Noises and How to Fix Them
It's normal for sump pumps to make noise during operation. However, if you hear unusual banging, gurgling, or vibrating noises, it's time to take action and know the right ways to repair the sump pump depending on the sounds it creates.
If you're wondering why your sump pump is making vibrating noises, it's possible that the discharge pipe is hitting the pump basin or wall. There's also a chance that the pipeline is contacting the floor.
As water flows through the discharge line, it may cause the pipe to vibrate and rattle against the sump pump lid and fixtures.
If the discharge pipe to the sump pump connects to the sewage pipes, the sump pump will continue producing vibrating sounds as it circulates the water through the plumbing system.
Use foam insulation and wrap the pipe where it meets the basin, wall, or floor.
If you want to eliminate rattling movements that result in vibrating noises, you can also line up rubber grommets in the sump pump cover, as well as gaps between the discharge and the liner lid.
In the case that your sump pump has too many joints, turns, or twists, the best way is to reroute and replace it.
However, there are some places with laws that require the discharge pipe route water directly to the outdoors, instead of through the sewer pipes.
If the noise is coming from the sump pump motor, it's possible that the machine lacks lubrication.
Sounds can imply that the moving parts are starting to dry and wear out faster due to constant grinding.
When it comes to noisy sump pump motors, there are various ways you can do to cut the sounds:
Clanging comes from vibration due to sump pump pipes making contact with the area around it.
When the system's piping discharges water, pipes will inevitably hit the pump's basin, as well as the wall or floor.
For clanging problems, there are a number of ways for you to fix a noisy sump pump:
Gurgling sounds occur when the water moves back down the discharge pipe after a pump cycle. This normally happens on a standard sump pump's check valve.
When a sump pump dries out, it causes a sound similar to someone making a slurping or sucking sound.
Sump pumps tend to create this sound when the pre-set shut-off height for the machine is not set correctly.
The pump should turn off before the point where water moves to the machine's intake area.
First, set the sump pump so that it always has a few inches of water in it. Next, find the check valve your discharge line needs.
Standard swing valves may produce slurping noises in the process of water flowing back down the pipe. This is meant to discharge when the pump cycle is complete.
Another way is to replace the valves with spring-loaded ones to prevent further problems. When you accompany it with maintenance, the slurping sounds should stop.
When sump pumps work hard, it may eventually develop banging noises.
If you can't see the check valve above the sump pit or below the lid, then you must install one. Once there's a check valve, the discharge pipe will cause movement and sounds.
When the drain pipe operates, vibrations from the sump pump transfers through the entire length of the drain pipe.
Once the machine shuts off, you'll hear loud banging sounds as the pressure inside the pipe suddenly drops.
Pipes that rub or bump into a surrounding wall or ceiling coverings will also result in banging sounds.
If you want to fix a sump pump that's making banging noises, all you need to do is to secure the discharge piping.
Try using a 12-gauge wire to fasten pipes in place. You'll need an extra bracket to isolate a particular part of the pipes where the sounds originate.
Use wood screws to attach the pipe brackets firmly to the floor joists. Aside from maintenance, make sure to conduct a yearly sump pump testing to prevent the noise from coming back.
When sump pumps start to generate grinding noise, it's a sign that the machine has a faulty impeller.
If there's a jammed impeller, letting the sump pump work hard can be disastrous.
Remember, the impeller is the "fan" on the bottom that pulls water into the fan. Its spinning action pushes water through the pipe. If it's damaged, the machine won't do its job properly.
To keep your basement dry and safe, the best solution is to replace the faulty impeller.
If there's a disengaged impeller, you can remove the pump's bottom screen and clean impeller blockages.
It's normal for sump pumps to emit low humming noises. However, if the pump starts to hum louder than usual or it's not pumping water, then there may be something serious going on.
If the sump pump's service area experiences wet conditions and the motor hums, yet there is no lowering of the water level, then an airlock is to blame. This frequently happens when the sump pump dries out often.
Furthermore, humming may result from improper installation of the check valve or jammed impeller.
If you hear the sump pump running all the time, it's possible that the machine isn't the right size for your basement.
Whether it's undersized or oversized, an incorrect size will pose a problem. It's ideal that the pump size matches the size of the basin where it's installed.
For instance, if you place an undersized pump in a large basin, the machine will have to pump harder.
In effect, it produces endless running noises as if the machine will break down any second.
As you can see, it's crucial to choose complementary sizes of the pump and basin to promote smooth and quiet operation.
Make it a habit to maintain and lubricate the machine to minimize friction.
Aside from that, avoid cheap plastic designs and opt for cast-iron instead, as the former can easily overheat and break down.
Other Tips and Hacks to Make a Noisy Sump Pump Quieter
Similar to other machinery, sump pumps contain moving components that are prone to fail from neglect, and wear and tear.
Whether the sump pump is producing humming, slurping, or vibrating noises, there are things you can do to stop them and prevent them from coming back.
If a sump pump comes with water level or flood arms, which are typically battery-powered, it can notify you if the pump isn't working correctly or the water is backing up.
From there, you can do basic sump pump maintenance such as:
Conduct Regular Inspection
Check the sump pumping system every three to four months and see if the machine works correctly.
Be careful when changing or fixing components to avoid unnecessary complications and damages.
Always keep the warranty if ever you need to replace or upgrade your pump at a lower cost.
Test the Pump
From time to time, pour a bucket of water into the pit to ensure the pump starts automatically. This should also make the water drain quickly once the pump is on.
Sump pumps use a float to detect water. If the float is stuck due to sediment and dirt, the debris buildup can cause the float to make noise because it can't function properly. For this, it would be better to call a plumber to loosen the float.
Inspect and make sure to plug the pump into a working ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet.
Also, check if the cord is in good shape. GFCI breakers may trip in damp areas, which will shut off the machine.
Keep the Machine in an Upright Position
When you read our other soundproofing articles, you'll notice that machines make noise if not placed on an even surface.
If a sump pump is not standing upright, it will produce vibrations, and consequently, noise.
More than that, improper placement can cause accidents as the machine may fall or tilt onto one side, causing the float arm to jam.
Inspect the Pipes
Ensure the outlet pipes are joined together firmly. It should be draining out at least 20 feet away from your foundation.
When you keep the discharge pipe's hole clear, you can prevent the machine from emitting loud humming noises.
Ensure Consistent Power Supply
Most sump pumps rely on electricity to run, which makes them vulnerable to a power outage. Keep a backup battery power or diesel generator in the event of an outage.
Maintain Proper Oil Levels
Use the right amount of oil depending on the type and brand of a sump pump. Too much or not enough oil can increase the temperature of the oil.
Degrease the Pit
You've seen how dirt buildup damages pipes and impellers. What's worse, debris accumulation may even start unwanted noise.
When grease, sludge, and wastewater remain in the pump's pit, it can be disastrous when the machine can't pump water out.
The simplest thing to do is to use a deodorizer and degreaser to keep the pit grease and odor-free.
Pour some into the pit, and the degreaser will float on top of the water. In effect, you should create a layer of degreaser and deodorizer.
Disconnect and Clean the Pump
Perhaps this is the simplest and most cost-effective way to cut sump pump noise. Not only that, but you also aid the machine in working efficiently, resulting in a longer lifespan.
Another way to maintain the machine is to remove the pump from the pit and clean the grate on the bottom.
Pumps make sucking actions that can also pull small stones into the grate, which then blocks the inlet or damages the pump over time.
Some models have specific instructions on how to clean, which is why you should also keep and read the user's manual.
Although, in general, you can clean a pump with a stiff-bristle brush, paper towels, and a garden hose.
Should I Call a Professional?
Replacing the discharge pipe can be challenging if you don't have the knowledge and equipment for it. The same goes for straightening discharge pipes.
If the gurgling, grinding, and clanging sounds persist after making some quick fixes, then it's a sign there's a bigger problem that only a professional can solve.
To ensure safety and proper fixing, it's wise to hire a professional plumber to do the fixing for you. A plumber may even locate problems you missed and provide the necessary solutions.
In some cases, a plumber can keep noises at bay with a few part replacements. Sometimes, a full-fledged system replacement may be necessary.
The bottom line— anything that looks too risky or complicated for you, don't hesitate to seek help from a professional.
Remember to be methodical and cautious when fixing a noisy sump pump. With the right replacement and maintenance, the machine will remain quiet in your basement.
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.