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Circuit breaker puzzle

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We came home from Thanksgiving to find that the circuit breaker that the sump pump is on had tripped and the basement floor was wet. We're in the process of replacing the carpet now. :cry: We have a pretty high water table and the sump pump runs a lot. I do have a battery backup pump, but once that battery dies, game over.

I've been trying to figure out why the breaker tripped. The only other things that were running on that circuit while we were gone were the charger/controller for the backup pump, the water softener (very little amp draw) and the freezer. All the lights were off. There was a storm here with heavy rain and some snow while we were gone and someone suggested lightning may have been a factor, but why that would affect only that circuit escapes me.

I've had the breaker trip twice since. The first time I had all the lights on and a fan running. The second time also lights on, running the drill press and shop vac. I've done that many times before with no trouble. Now I'm watching it like a hawk and we're nervous about being gone for any length of time.


1. If the float switch stuck "on", would the pump eventually overheat and trip the breaker?

2. Would the pump draw more amps as it ages? It's a high-quality cast-iron pump, probably 12-14 years old.

3. Do circuit breakers get weaker with age?

I'm also considering getting an electrician in here to run a separate circuit for just the sump pump. I don't want to go through this again.


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I would put the sump on its own circuit without a GFI.  Leave the backup on a different circuit.

I'd also add another or bigger battery to the back up.

Since your water table is so high it might be a good idea to have an alarm on the backup. I'd bet there is some sort of app that can alert your smart phone.

Breakers can become "weak".  One having been tripped from an overloaded circuit probably more to blame then age though.  Or it was bad to begin with. There are some counterfeit breakers as well so buy at a reputable suppler.

Yes the pump can wear. Both the motor and the pump wear out.

Having a float stick and pump run continually isn't good for the pump.

What type float do you have?  If its a tethered ball type IMO they are going to fail sooner then later because they can get hung up on its own cord and pump. Of coarse the float on a rod should be checked and cleaned to be sure it can't get hung up.


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I made the decision to replace the pump every few years rather than the carpet.

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Same circuit as the freezer?!! Oh no no no......!!! They kick in at the same time, and  *TRIP* Always have the pump on a separate circuit!!  As mentioned, GFCI is what code calls for, but sometimes dampness will pop one, rare, but I've seen it happen. I nixed the GFCI on mine when I ran a separate circuit for just the pump. That should solve your problem. :)

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I had a sump pump on a gfi outlet.  Won't do that any more.  


I bet just the sump pump and the freezer normal run power is close to 15 amps.  

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Thanks to everyone who replied. Lots of good advice. I'll start with an electrician and go from there.

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did you ever get this figured out?


Just curious as I have a similar situation at home with the high water table. I have had a pump float get stuck on the side of the pit before and stay running on. The pump got hot and tripped the breaker. 


My main pump is a 1/2hp Zoeller pump and I have had good success with them but I do swap it out or replace it with a new one depending how wet its been for peace of mind. I also have a water jet pump that uses water to move water that's hooked up to my rural water that works great if you lose power. No need to worry about keeping a battery maintained etc. I am not sure I would trust it to by my main pump in  large rain event though.


I have considered switching to a Electronic Sump Pump Switch but not sure if they are dependable or not. I have looked at the LevelGuard.

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  • Your Responses - Share & Have Fun :)

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