sump pump outlet circuit breaker tripped

Our basement flooded with about 1" of water in the unfinished area (concrete) and most of the carpeted area wet. This was after a lot of rain and melting snow in the last few days in Detroit. Turned out the breaker on the sump pump outlet had tripped and caused it to stop pumping. I want to know some reasons why the breaker tripped so I can prevent this from happening again. Is it just because the pump was running a lot due to large volume of water, is it due to a failing pump, could there possibly be a short, or what else can trip a breaker? I did notice some pebbles getting stuck in the pump's inlet area. Don't know if they can get sucked into the pump and cause the motor to draw too much current or is there some sort of screen which keeps large debris out?? The pump and switch are both functioning with the breaker reseted.
The pump is about 8 years old Hydromatic with a diaphragm switch (piggyback electrical plug style). The switch broke in December so I replaced it with a float style from Lowes (also piggyback electrical plug style). I would imagine the float switch is pretty simple and not much can go wrong with it. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
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On Jan 8, 10:46 pm, snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

buffalo ny: start tearing out the carpet, it's usually not top be saved after a flood. in the sump hole install a city water powered sump pump [non- electrical] which squirts into your proper drainage pipe taking the collected sump water with it. subject to your local drainage requirements. set the new electrically operated replacement pump to work at lowest level of water. set water warden or whatever brand is used these days to operate if water gets deeper. if uncertain about this, hire your plumber do this and remember to clean the whole basement particularly the empty sump and drain pathways leading to it. eventually rain or a water heater breaks, causing electrically hazardous basements which may lack actual working floor drains due to their elevation above the sewer or design of construction. defibrillator for the home $1200 at samsclub.com, but you'll need a helper to operate it. -b
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Obviously there is a problem with the pump or wiring. We cant see it, so we dont know. If there's a chunk of wood or some junk in the impeller, it will seize and cause the breaker to trip. The motor bearings may be siezed, the cord may have a bare spot, switch filled with water, etc.....
You should RUN and TEST all sump pumps at least twice a year, preferably more often. Clean out the pit regularly. Have a second pump in the same or another pit if you are really concerned about carpeting or other things, and have a separate circuit for that pump. I'd guess you only have one pump, and have ignored the pump.
All you can do now, is clean up the mess, then determine the problem with the pump, or just replace it. Then get a second pump, set the float higher, and use a separate circuit. There are also 12V battery pumps, but you got to keep the marine battery charged.
On Tue, 8 Jan 2008 19:46:17 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

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Debris in the impeller will jam the pump and eventually trip the breaker. I would also check the nameplate on the pump to determine the amperage draw of the pump, then be sure the circuit is dedicated or at least not overloaded with other devices, lights, outlets etc.

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I had a customer once who had a circuit breaker repeatedly trip several minutes after resetting it. It shut off some lights in her basement. I saw her sump pump plugged into an outlet and unplugged it. That solved the problem. She had the pump replaced and it has been fine since.
In addition to the reasons that you suggested, the breaker could have tripped because of a loose connection at the breaker. The breaker may have weakened with age. Maybe the circuit isn't big enough for the size pump that you have. Is the pump on a dedicated circuit?
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Thanks for all the replies. The pump is on its own circuit, and it is a single non-GFCI outlet. A basement dryer came and worked 6 hours with the vacuum, setup 2 large dehumidifier and some fans, ripped the carpet at the seams, pulled out the padding, ripped the baseboard and insulation. I'll have to decide about whether to keep the carpet as someone suggested when the immediate crisis is over.
The below post is of particular interest and describes my current situation. After all night running the dehumidifiers and fans, this afternoon the sump pump circuit tripped again, plus a separate circuit one dehumidifier is on. They tripped independently. Resetting the breaker and few seconds later trips again. Unable to be home, I called an electrician to check it out. They are installing a new sump pump saying the old one was bad, but didn't say anything about the dehumidifiers, just that a lot of things are running. I'll have to ask them to clearify. They thought it was weird that the equipment ran all night and then started tripping. They said if circuits are close to being overloaded, it would've happened much quicker. Supposing a degraded/breaking pump was the original culprit, why now is the second circuit tripping even when the pump isn't running?

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snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

Just one question: when you say "the breaker on the sump pump outlet", do you mean the breaker for the CIRCUIT that the sump pump outlet is on? Or do you mean a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet that the sump pump plugs into?
If the former... ignore the rest of my post. You've gotten good advice from other people who have responded.
If the latter... shut off the breaker, replace the GFCI outlet with a standard outlet, and turn the breaker back on. Sump pumps should NOT be on GFCI-protected outlets.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug Miller wrote:

snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net wrote:

Doug I'm not trying to troll or be quarrelsome when I say that there is no exception for sump pumps in the code requirement for all outlets in unfinished portions of basements to be GFCI protected. If it is an unfinished basement then the outlet must be GFCI protected. If the GFCI trips then there is a five milliampere or greater current leak in the pump, it's cord, or controls. If the pump cannot pass winding integrity testing then replace it. I can't think of many deadlier scenarios then somebody on there knees on a conductive concrete floor trying to clear out the intake of a sump pump while the pump has a case fault. Yes I know; if the Equipment Grounding Conductor of the circuit is intact and has a low enough resistance, and the fault is delivering enough current to trip the circuits Over Current Protective Device (OCPD), and the OCPD is working properly... The basic theory of personnel safety is that it should take at least two failures to put someone in jeopardy of serious injury. The more failures it takes to jeopardize someone the better. Leave the GFCI in the circuit and test it at least monthly. -- Tom Horne
"This alternating current stuff is just a fad. It is much too dangerous for general use." Thomas Alva Edison
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wrote:

I disagree:
Article 210.8(A)(5) Exception No. 2: "A single receptacle or a duplex receptacle for two appliances located within dedicated space for each appliance that, in normal use, is not easily moved from one place to another and that is cord-and-plug connected in accordance with 400.7(A)(6), (A)(7), or (A)(8)."
This would seem to apply to a receptacle supplying a sump pump, which is an appliance "located within dedicated space", "not easily moved", and "cord-and-plug connected".

How hard is it to unplug the pump?

I can't argue with that, but...

.. if you're going to do that, then you should have a second sump pump that does not require 120VAC to operate.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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A working sump pump is critical in my house or serious damage can occur. If a pump displays any problems, it is replaced with a new standby pump that I keep on hand. I don't trust iffy situations. Also the pump should be on its own dedicated circuit and breaker and should be constantly monitored to ensure it is in good working condition.

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