4 Noises Your Sump Pump Makes & Which Ones Mean Trouble

Becca Stokes
Written by Becca Stokes
Reviewed by Joseph Wood
Updated April 22, 2022
Child playing in a large puddle in the rain
Photo: FamVeld / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Sump pump acting up? These noises mean it's time to get it repaired or replaced

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If you’re lucky, your sump pump isn’t something you spend a lot of time thinking about. While essential in preventing flooding in your home, chances are you don’t think about the sump pump system in your house unless it’s been raining non-stop for a few days.  

Even then, you’re probably just grateful that the sump pump is doing its job. But the truth is that like every appliance we put to work in our homes, sump pumps can have problems of their own.

The most common complaint people have about sump pumps? The noises they make. While sump pumps do make sounds, they aren’t all created equal. You may not have to get your sump pump repaired by a local pro at all. Find out now which sounds are normal, and which should have you getting quotes from professionals in your area.

Sump Pumps & How They Work

A “sump,” while silly sounding, is another name for a pit. A pump uses pressure to move liquids. Put those together, and you have a tool that moves liquid out of a pit. Sump pumps are installed in the basement of homes to move out water in case of flooding. 

Before you can fit a sump pump in your home, you’ll need a sump pit dug out for it to sit in. Once the sump pump is inside its hole, its valves sense rising water and the sump pump pushes water away from the home.

Normal Sump Pump Noises

If what you crave is a home where silence reigns supreme—even in the basement—you’re in for a rude awakening if you’re in possession of a working sump pump. That’s because by the very nature of what the pump does (compress air to move water) can make a sound. 

Predictably, the older your sump pump system is, the more noise it will make. So, if “silence is golden” is your personal motto, buy a new pump for less sound. But remember, it’s going to be impossible to eliminate all noise.

Sump Pump Motor Noise

There’s no way around it: Motors are loud. But if the noise of your sump pump motor seems too loud, there’s a chance it’s an older system and the motor itself isn’t actually broken—it’s just noisy. Check to see what material your pump is made of. If it’s plastic or PVC, that’s a tip-off that it’s an older pump. Replacing it should soothe your rumpled nerves in no time flat.

There are "submersible" and "pedestal" pumps. Submersible pumps are quieter because the motor is inside the pit, often underwater and beneath a cap or cover.  Pedestal pumps have the pump mounted approximately 24 inches off the floor height and place the noisiest unit in the main space so they’re louder.

Clanging Sump Pump Noise

A slight metallic clang is normal when your sump pump first kicks into action. That clanging you hear is the noise of the water hitting the pipe that will direct it outside. However, that clang should stop after a few minutes. If your sump pump is making a clanging noise consistently, it could be a sign that your pump wasn’t installed properly and those in charge had to reroute the piping to make it work, leading to an off-putting constant clang. Insulating the pipe solves this issue in most cases.

Gurgling Sump Pump Noise

Again, this is another common noise old sump pumps make. The gurgling is usually the sound of the pumped water pushing through one of the pump’s valves. If you want to get rid of it, you can have a professional replace the valves with a spring-powered option that should quiet things down.

“All pumps should be installed with a relief hole about 12 inches up the discharge line but still inside the pit,” says Joseph Wood, Expert Review Board member and Master Plumber and Founder of Boston Standard Company. “The purpose is to relieve the remaining water pressure in the discharge line. Without this, gurgling will be more prominent. Also, a swing-check should be installed on the discharge to prevent backflow and noise.”

Sump Pump Maintenance

How much maintenance your sump pump needs depends on how often it kicks in. If you live in an area without much flooding and it doesn’t turn on often, you can get away with checking it out and servicing it just once a year. However, if your sump pump runs regularly, you should examine and clean it once a month. 

“The primary concern for a sump pump is that the pit remains clear of debris and dirt. If you have surface water running into the pit, you should have a pro clean the pit as needed,” says Wood. “Purchasing a formal kit will ensure that the sump pump has a longer life, rather than digging a hole and dropping a pump into it, which some choose to do.”

Sump Pump Costs

Installing a sump pump costs between about $640 and $2,000, depending on the region where you live. The average price of sump pump servicing costs is $510 annually. But of course, if you live in a place that floods often, that’s a bargain compared to contending with water damage.

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