Fix an Electrical Circuit for a Sump Pump or Septic Pump
My pump is not working and I am trying to troubleshoot the problem: How to Identify Typical Septic Pump Problems.© By: Dave Rongey
Sump Pump and Septic Pump Problems
Electrical Problem: My pump is not working and I am trying to troubleshoot the problem.
- Due to a ground fault interrupt, I’ve lost a circuit.
- The electrical panel load center is a GE Power Mark Gold #tm3215ccu.
- Circuit breaker #31 is marked “Panel GFI and outside and sump pump plugs.”
- Is there an internal GFI reset?
- I’ve reset the breaker with no effect. Or, should I assume that this breaker is shot.
- Unfortunately, I cannot afford an electrician at the moment as we have just bought this house and are up to the neck financially in doing all the stuff needed in a new home.
Thanks for any help you can provide.
This electrical wiring question came from: Tom, from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Thanks for your electrical wiring question Tom.
How to Install and Repair a Sump Pump or Septic Pump
- Application: Install a Sump Pump or Septic Pump.
- Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced – Best installed by a Licensed Electrician.
- Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch Hand Tools, electric drill, auger bits and extension cord.
- Estimated Time: Depends on personal level experience, ability to work with tools and install electrical circuit wiring.
- Notice: Installing additional outlet wiring should be done with a permit and be inspected.
Example of a Typical Sump Pump or Septic Pump Circuit
A dedicated 120 volt 20 amp GFCI protected circuit. See installation manual for specific details and circuit requirements. Septic pumps typically do not require GFCI protection.
- The GE Power Mark Gold TM3215CCU is a 150 Amp 32-Space 32-Circuit Main Breaker Load Center and sells for around $140.00 at outlets such as Lowe’s or Home Depot. The General Electric GFCI and AFCI circuit breakers are compatible with this top or bottom feed load center.
- Most sump pumps and septic pumps require that the pump and motor are submerged in fluid or liquid and should not be run dry otherwise damage may occur to the unit.
- Some sump pumps and septic pumps may have a built in thermal cut out switch which will automatically shut off the motor if it should over heat, however this will only provide temporary or limited protection.
- All the start and stop components of a septic or sump pump system should be inspected and tested to make sure that they function and are reliable per the design of the specific application.
- When a GFCI trips off this generally indicates that voltage has been detected to ground due to a fault and tests will need to be performed to determine the cause.
- A tripping GFCI circuit typically does not mean that the GFCI device or protection is bad and in need of replacing, but rather that the GFCI device is doing it’s job of detecting a fault that will need to be discovered and repaired.
- In situations such as this it is best to locate a licensed electrical contractor or qualified pump technician in your area who can diagnose and fix the electrical circuit for a sump pump or septic pump.
How to Identify Typical Septic Pump Problems
- Septic System Circuit Power
First check the circuit power for the septic system and make sure it is on and providing circuit power.
- Septic Pump Float Switches
Float switches make the pump turn on either directly or through the septic tank control box.
If one or more float switches become faulty replacement will be required.
Condition of the float switch can be tested by identifying the pair of wires leading to each float and tested with a continuity tester.
Note that some floats are NO or normally open or OFF, and some float are NC or ON. The position of the float will affect the continuity test reading that you receive.
If the tank is full then the START or RUN float should produce a continuity reading.
- Septic Pump Motor
The septic pump motor may have burnt out and require replacement.
A continuity test may be performed on the pump motor to test the motor windings and test power to ground for a short.If the motor is suspected to be OK then the septic pump controller should have a Manual On switch which should bypass the floats and make the pump start.
The pump amperage should be tested to see if the motor is running withing specifications for the horsepower rating of the motor which should be indicated in the owners manual for the septic system or identified inside the septic control box.
- Continuity tests for system components must be performed while the circuit power is OFF.
- Consult the documentation and wiring diagrams of the sump pump or septic pump and the related control system for application specific information.
- Electrical tests and determinations about the septic system are best performed by a licensed electrician or certified septic pump service technician.
More about Installing and Repairing Electrical Circuit Wiring
- How to Use Electrical Testers and Voltage Meters
Understanding Digital Volt Meters
- When working on home electrical wiring using voltage meter can play an important part in electrical safety.
- Electrical testers and voltage meters enable you to identify electrical circuits and help prevent the possibility of accidental electrical shock.
Repair Electrical Wiring
Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring
- Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.
More about Home Electrical Wiring
- Basic House Wiring Circuits
House Wiring Circuits and Circuit Breakers
- This article looks at common 120 volt and 240 volt house wiring circuits and the circuit breakers that are installed identifying the types and amperage sizes used in most homes.
- Electrical Circuit Breakers
Home Electrical Circuit Breakers
- A guide to home electrical circuit breakers and how they work to protect your electrical wiring. When properly installed, your home electrical wiring is protected by a circuit protection device.
- Wiring GFI Outlets
GFCI and GFI Wiring Diagrams
- The features and benefits of GFCI outlets and receptacles will give you a clear understanding of the importance why these safety devices are required by code to help protect you and your family against accidental electrical shock hazards.
This list of articles will help you learn about the features and benefits provided by GFI and GFCI Receptacles and how they are wired.
The following may also be helpful for you:
Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.
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