Every time it rains and every spring does the incessant gurgle of water, vibration and rattle of pipes, and thunk of the check valve echo through your house? Even though you’re trying to sleep two stories above it, you still hear it! Ever wondered how to quiet a sump pump?
How to quiet a sump pump. Ensure the pipes are secure so they won’t vibrate or thump. Adjust the float level to keep the intake valve covered with water to stop the sucking noise. Replace the check valve with a spring loaded one to quiet the gurgling. And then install an insulated cover over the sump pump and hole.
A sump pump is a necessary part of many homes. However, it doesn’t have to disrupt sleep and conversations. In this article I’ll discuss sump pump noises, their possible causes, and how to quiet those sounds. My goal is to provide you with the only guide you need to quiet a sump pump.
If you are tired of repairing the old one, and just need to replace it ,please see our article Best Quiet Sump Pump of 2023.
What Does a Sump Pump Sound Like
The sump pump system in each home has similar components, but may be configured differently, resulting in different noises. Here are some of the different noises that can be experienced with a sump pump system:
There may be a “click” every time the motor turns on or off. Some motors hum and others whir at different volumes. The age, condition, and quality of the pump also contributes to the noise. However, if they squeal or screech, they should be replaced.
Water pumped through discharge pipes can cause them to vibrate and rattle. It may also make a clang as the pipe bangs against the sump well side, bottom, or lid.
Loud Banging Noise
The air being forced out of discharge pipes by water can cause a loud bang or water hammer. It often occurs as water is compressed through the pipe, and again when it suddenly stops. It can cause a pressure wave that reverberates through the discharge system.
Check Valve Noise
Check valves can clunk or bang as they open or close, or whistle and hum if debris gets caught in them.
A hum that isn’t the result of the motor can be caused by debris stuck in the intake or discharge pipe.
Water flowing through pipes can cause a gurgling noise. It can be the result of the check valve or lack of a check valve as water flows back into the sump pit from the discharge pipe.
As the pump starts up and begins to push water through the pipe, the force of the flow can cause the pipe to knock against joists, walls, or the sump housing. It may also be the check valve banging open or closed like a door.
Clunking can occur as the pump starts up and the torque causes the pipes to hit the pit wall or cover, or another structural piece. The same noise can occur when the pump stops. The check valve can also clunk when it opens or closes.
Common Causes of Sump Pump Noise
1. Poor Sump Pump Design
Sump pumps come in different designs and price points. Those made of light material will produce more noise than cast-iron pumps. Self-lubricating pumps will require less maintenance and produce less noise too. The motor drives an impeller which draws water from the pit into it and up the discharge pipe.
The pedestal pump is inexpensive, and one of the noisiest pumps as the motor sits above the pit, allowing its noise to travel easily through the house. The motor is mounted on a long pipe, and the suction foot is at the bottom of the pipe in the pit. A float operates the on-off switch.
It is a high capacity pump but is prone to burn-out. Plus, it tends to wander around the pit, causing the float to get trapped.
It can also rattle and knock against the pit sides. The pit often has no lid, so moisture and odors can permeate the room and building.
Submersible pump motors are housed within the sump pit and often are muffled by water and the pit lid. The pump is immersed in the water, which cools it, helping to prevent burn-out, so it lasts longer.
The pumps are more expensive than a pedestal and made of a heavy cast-iron, so they wander less, making them quieter.
Floor Sucker Pumps
Floor suckers sit on the floor and remove water already in the basement or crawlspace. It requires a minimum of 1/8” of water on the floor to work. They don’t need a sump pit or permanent discharge pipes, so they can be plugged in when and where required. They are less expensive than other options. Unfortunately, they can block easily and are prone to overheating as the water level drops.
Pumps powered by water pressure require consistent water pressure, like your town water to operate. They use 3 to 5-gallons of water to remove 1-gallon from the sump pit. The low volume pumps don’t use electricity and are long-lasting, but may not be practical in many areas.
2. Pump Location in the Sump Pit
The sump pump vibrates during operation. It should be located near the center of the pit base to prevent it from knocking and vibrating against the pit sides. The vibration can echo through the foundation and walls otherwise.
3. Pump Materials and Condition
Cheaply made metal and plastic pumps are noisier than heavy cast-iron pumps. Older pumps may also be noisier too. The screen that protects the impeller from debris should be of a non-corrosive material, as should the impeller parts. Debris and rust can cause noise. The float activator or pressure sensor turns the motor on-off and should also be of a material that won’t corrode or break. Pumps that are corroded or produce a lot of heat should be replaced.
4. The Sump Pit Is Not Covered
An uncovered sump pit allows debris, toys, and even children to fall in, which can cause damage to the sump pump system and unexpected noises. It also can add a damp smell or other odors to your home.
5. Motor Noise
Pedestal and submersible pump motors make different sounds. Some motors are self-lubricating, and others aren’t, which adds to the noise. Additionally, poorly maintained or older motors will be louder.
6. Vibrations Of The Discharge Pipe
Water flowing through discharge pipes can cause them to vibrate and bang against the sump pit sides and lid, or the house walls or joists. ABS or plastic pipes will flex more than metal so that it may be noisier too.
7. Poor Design of the Discharge Lines
How the discharge pipes are configured and secured contributes to the noise. Two 45° angles are better than a 90°. Water will make more noise as it is forced through the 90° bend. The further the discharge pipe travels inside the house, the more noise it produces. Pipes without a check valve produce gurgling noise. However, a swing check valve can gurgle, clunk, and even whistle.
How to Quiet a Sump Pump
1. Identify What Kind of Noise Well Pump Is Making
There are different ways the noises from the sump pump system can be quieted. The first step is to identify the type of noise or noises it makes. Determining where the noise is coming from may make it easier to address too.
Loud vibrations are caused as the water flows through the discharge pipes. A bang may be the check valve opening or closing. Knocking or thumping could be the discharge pipe flexing, or contacting the pump lid, pit sides, or structural members of the building. A click is usually the pump switch echoing when the pump cycles on or off. Other noises could be caused by debris, a failing pump motor, or a check valve leaking.
2. Seal and Insulate Sump Pit
The sump pit should be fitted with a removable insulated cover that fits tightly. The lid decreases noise and keeps debris, pets, or children from falling into the hole. The tight fit helps prevent rattle and helps keep pedestal pumps from wandering. Adding rubber grommets to seal around the pipe and cable holes will stop knocking or thumping as the pump cycles on and off.
3. Secure Drain Lines
ABS and plastic pipes will flex and vibrate with water pressure, and metal pipes will vibrate. Discharge pipes should be fastened to the wall and joists where possible to reduce vibration.
Wrapping them in foam insulation wherever they contact structural members will also decrease noise. Shortening the run of discharge pipe within the home, and replace 90° turns with two 45°s will help too.
4. Replace Check Valve
Most sump pump systems have a one-way check valve to prevent water flowing back into the pit when the pump shuts off. The backpressure when the pump shuts off can cause the valve to bang shut. The valve may gurgle or whistle if it doesn’t close properly due to debris, age, or damage.
If there isn’t a valve, or it fails, the suction caused by the backflow when the pump stops will cause all the water in the drainpipe to rattle and whoosh back into the pit. This not only causes noise but can damage the impeller and will make the pump cycle more frequently. Install or replace the existing valve with a spring-loaded “silent” check valve. It will eliminate the bang or clunk as the valve opens or closes, and also prevent water from pouring back into the pit.
5. Adjust the Pump Switch
How often a sump pump cycles on and off, and how long it runs is determined by the pump switch. It is best to refer to the owner’s manual. Most sump pumps have a float activated switch or a pressure switch. Submersible pumps are under the water when the switch activates, so noise is muffled. A pedestal pump, however, is above the pit, which makes the switching noise more noticeable.
A pump with a vertical post-float activated switch should have an adjustment screw or nut that controls when the pump turns on and off. Adjusting the float to go higher in the pit increases the water level, so the pump cycles less frequently, but runs longer.
A tethered switch has a float on a cord that activates the pump. As it floats into an upright vertical position, a steel ball or mercury trips the switch, it shuts down when it drops into a downward position. Adjusting the length of the tether will change when the pump starts or stops.
Adjusting a pressure or diaphragm switch is more difficult, and may not be possible on some models. The power cord for the pump piggybacks on the pressure switch plug. The pressure switch is triggered by water pressure against the diaphragm, which then powers the pump. The switch is often mounted low on the pump housing and may be moveable for adjustment. It should be positioned, so the pump doesn’t run dry and burn out.
6. Install A Quiet Sump Pump
Sump pumps range between 1/3HP and 1HP; the greater horsepower is often noisier. High-quality pumps make less noise than inexpensive pumps, and a submersible pump is quieter than a pedestal one. Cast iron vacuum-sealed self-lubricating submersible pumps are a quiet choice.
Sump Pump Maintenance
A sump pump hides away in a dark corner of the basement and is often forgotten until it suddenly turns on. Many people rely on the noise to let them know it is working, and if you have a sump pump, you want it in working condition. However, maintaining your sump pump is important, so you don’t experience a basement flood.
Maintenance is important, even if there are no flooding concerns. Here are some things you can do every other month to make sure your sump pump is ready when needed.
- Make sure the power cord is plugged in.
- Ensure the receptacle is live.
- Make sure the pump base is 8-inches from the pit sides.
- Observe that the tethered float is free to move, or that the vertical post-float moves freely.
- Check for and remove any debris in the hole.
Once a year, the pump should be removed and cleaned. Check the owner’s manual for parts that need to be lubricated, and do so.
- Examine the pump for rust that may interfere with operation.
- Thoroughly clean the sump pump and pit.
- Clean the screen that protects the impeller.
- Return the pump to the sump pit, and reconnect pipes and power.
- Pour enough water into the pit, so the float or pressure switch activates the pump and discharges the water.
The off-season is a good time to fix sump pumps, drain pipes, check valves, and to address noise concerns. It is also a good idea to install a battery back-up sump pump, just to be safe.
A sump pump is an essential part of many homes’ structural stability. It protects the foundation, keeps the basement or crawl space dry, and allows homeowners to breathe easier during wet seasons. Wrapping and securing the discharge pipes, installing a spring-loaded check, adjusting the float level, and tightly covering the pit opening are some ways to quiet a sump pump.
My goal was to put together the only guide you need to quiet a sump pump. I hope you agree and found the guide informative and helpful. If you do, share it with others. Your comments and suggestions are appreciated.
10 thoughts on “How to Quiet a Sump Pump: The Only Guide You Need”
Thanks for these useful and unique tips. I was facing trouble with my pump. After reading the informative article I realize what is the problem. Now I can fix the problem and next time I must remember your tips.
Thanks a lot for the post, its damn helpful.
I have had a very dry basement for 17 years, had a new sump pump put in a few years ago. However, I have never heard it running. It is completely submerged below the top of the water line. The water line is level with the pipes that carry the water in from outside. I reached down and tested the float which is already as high as it will go.
Even with the heaviest of rains and winter snow melting the water level in the pit has never gone any higher than those pipes. if I can’t hear my pump running how do I know it’s really working? Is the motor that quiet?
The pumps are very quiet. If I am standing in the utility room and the pump cuts in, I barely hear it. The noise of water in the pipe is way louder. But I think you may have a float adjustment problem. If the switch is a 2″ square box on a little rubber hose, it has to be pretty close to vertical to turn on. You should be able to shorten the line so it will switch on. When mine turns on it will empty 20 or 30 gallons in about a minute and stops with an inch or so of water left in the bottom. You should be able to reach into the sump and lift it up to vertical. If it does not turn on, you may have a pump problem.
If the water is level with the filler pipes, I would be concerned that the pump is not turning on and the water is running back through the pipes and sitting in the weeping tile, or worse, soaking in under the foundation. You might want to haul the pump out and make sure it is working. Does not sound right to me.
Hope that was helpful,
Hi Jeff, I’m another reader like you who has enjoyed the writer’s noise abatement tips. This page was extremely well written.
Often the pump is installed on a GFI breaker or GFI receptacle. Be sure to check that the receptacle it’s plugged into actually has power. I prefer to use those sub $10 three prong testers just to confirm basic power (they are not true GFI testers, though, and do not assess the response time of a GFI… those are a lot more than ten bucks!).
Anyway, if no power, check your main panel or subpanel for tripped or thrown breakers, and after confirming the cause of any tripping, try re-energizing the circuit.
Also if only a GFI receptacle, and not a breaker issue, unplug any cords from the receptacle and look for a “Reset” button to push. If that does not re-energize the receptacle to power the test-device, it’s possible the GFI has simply gone bad and needs replaced. Resist the temptation to replace a GFI receptacle with a non-GFI receptacle for safety reasons. They’ve cone down in price anyway, and buying a 3-pack might be a good upgrade for other areas of the house or shop where they can be used.
This is so valuable and is what we’re battling in our newly built home! The water coming out of the house from the sump pump is gushing and very loud. We can’t hear each other talking with the noise. The sump pump itself goes off every 20-60 seconds 24/7. we’ve been told it’s due to high ground water however our neighbors don’t have the same problem. Between the loud pump and the gushing water outside it’s hard to sleep, have any quiet, which is why we moved out of the city to begin with. any suggestions on who to call to address these issues and to offer options towards solutions? THANK YOU!
I do not know anyone who could be of help to you long distance. You will need to find someone locally. Pump running every minute or less seems to be more than high ground water. Sounds more like an underground river or broken water pipe. Specially if the neighbors are not having the problem. I think you really need to discover the cause, before looking for a cure. You could end up fixing the wrong thing.
I am having the exact same problems in my newly built home. Were you able to find a solution? When there is heavy rain my sump pump is filling fast and runs every 45 seconds (2/3 HP submersible). However when there is no rain for a while it runs maybe once every other day. Underground river? Broken water pipe? I don’t know. Did you find the cause?
[email protected] is my email if you did thanks!
Dear Jeff, Thank you for an excellent post. I am presently remodeling a ground floor room to be used as my consultation office for psychological treatment. It must be very quiet and there certainly must never be sudden, loud noises. As part of the renovation, the 11’X16′ room was dug out to give it a higher ceiling. Well into the project, the dig out complete, I learn that it requires a sump pump. Okay, this makes sense, but my GC and his team do not seem tuned into my needs or especially knowledgeable about pumps and which ones are the most quiet. I have two questions for you: (1) Can I really expect to achieve near silence with a pump in the room? And (2) Can you recommend the very best pump to buy? The post is very helpful; I’ll be grateful for anything further that you can add as per these questions.
I think that you can achieve near silence. Buy a submersible pump with a float switch. Mine is a Superior cast iron unit. I use a flex hoe because it has some give to it.
Solid ABS pipe with 90 degree corners are noisy because the pump is rated at 4800 gallons per minute so when it hits a solid corner it makes noise. The pipe will have to be inside the room a little bit. Enclose it with a heavy mass box to reduce any noise. MDF works well. For more information and a picture of my sump see our articles Why is My Sump Pump Making Noise?
Thank you, Terry!