The sump pump float switch is a critical part that controls the operation of your sump pump. And a damaged or broken float switch is the most common type of sump pump repair.
You can see my top universal float switch recommendation: the Flotec Universal Float Switch on Amazon.
If your sump pump float switch is damaged your pump will not turn on. And if your float switch is blocked or stuck, it may be unable to start your sump pump – or unable to stop your sump pump when its running.
I highly recommend this Flotec Float Switch on Amazon because it's a universal tethered design that fits almost all submersible pumps- and it can be used as a vertical switch too! I love the versatility and quality, and its easy for homeowners to install.
And yes, the most common cause of sump pump failure is a problem with the float
properly working float switch is absolutely vital to protecting your home from
a costly flood. That's why many homeowners keep a second float switch on hand.
You’ll see three basic sump pump float switch types: tethered, vertical and electronic.
A tethered sump pump float switch style is the best choice for wider and deeper sump pump pits. You really should have a minimum of 14” – 16” diameter sump pit so the tether will have enough room to freely float up and down with the rise & fall of the water level. They allow for longer pumping cycles, and the pump has longer periods of rest between cycles, which helps increase the working life the sump pump.
This tethered Flotec sump pump float switch on Amazon is a great choice for homeowners because it's durable, has a universal design to fit on almost all submersible pumps, will also replace a vertical switch and has a "piggy back" design for fast & easy installation.
Then there are vertical sump pump float switch types. Vertical float switches have floats that use a rod on which to rise & fall. A vertical float switch takes up less space and is perfect for a pit that’s not wide enough to use a tethered float switch. And a vertical float switch activates shorter pump cycles which requires less electricity.
If you need a vertical float switch, you should take a look at this Parts20 Vertical Float Switch on Amazon.
It's built to be corrosion resistant for a long life, includes the mounting bracket and has a "piggy-back" electric plug. Super easy installation!
Lastly, there are electronic sump pump float switch types. An electronic float switch is the smallest of all the float switch styles, so they’re perfect for small sump pump basins. There’s no moving parts on an electronic float switch, so they can’t get caught up or stuck between the pump and basin wall. And many electronic switches have water alarms built in.
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Here’s a simplified explanation of how sump pump float switches work:
As the water level in your sump pit rises, your air-filled float also rises. And once the float rises, and reaches a pre-set level, it activates the sump pump float switch, which turns your sump pump on. As your sump pump runs, and the water level begins to recede, your float is also lowered. Once your float returns to its original position, it activates the switch to turn off your sump pump.
Actually, there are two major reasons that I’ve seen for a sump pump float switch failing to turn on:
1. Using an extension cord. Yes, if you use an extension cord for your sump pump you’ll run the risk of giving your pump low voltage. Then your sump pump will draw higher amps to run – which causes your pump to run hot. And as you know, if your sump pump runs hot, you can shorten the working life. A lot. Trust me, your sump pump should be plugged directly into your outlet.
2. The float ball is stuck. If your sump pump float switch fails to turn on, it’s often because there’s debris keeping the float from rising or falling. Or the ball got itself stuck between the basin and pit wall. Remove whatever is keeping the float from moving and test it by lifting it up to see if your pump turns on.
If you're interested in reading more about guidelines for sump pumps, check out this article from the Sump and Sewage Pump Manufacturers Association.
Would you like see my recommendations for the best sump
pumps for homeowners?
You can read my tips on choosing the top sump pump for you.
Need sump pump repair? You’ll want to check out my top sump pump repair and troubleshooting tips.
If you’d like to see a handy chart of my top rated sump pumps and sump pump battery back up recommendations, click here.
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With these tips you’ll be able to diagnose the most common problems with your sump pump float switch.
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