How to Replace Sump Pump Float Switch: A Step By Step Guide

A sump pump without a float switch is technically inoperable. Even a faulty or malfunctioning switch is no better. It’s a round plastic part that looks small in size and contains air. The float rises as the water level does and employs a switch to activate the pump. Its failure results in a serious hindrance to the pump’s activity.

At some point after installing a sump system, its float switch may need attention, and in the worst case, you might get a replacement. But how can you remove the one that’s currently in use and install another? Is it an expert’s job?

This article will answer these questions and provide a detailed guide on how to replace sump pump float switch. But you should make the right decision first.

What Should You Do: Replacement, Repair, or Reposition?

Clogging is one of the most frequent float switch issues, which doesn’t usually indicate that you have to change it. An hour of effort to unclog the sump system should be good.

Also, the water pumped by a system carries debris or other tiny solids like paper, hair, etc. which may get stuck with the float switch leading to its malfunctioning state. You can just clean the switch and check if it’s working again.

Sometimes, the vibration produced by the pump’s motor may force the switch to move a little far away from its place. It may also move sideways. Again, the float may get tangled with wire. These issues don’t quite make a replacement necessary because it takes only a few minutes to get the component back to work.

Rust is one of the two problems that leaves you with no choice but a replacement. Some homeowners may want to rest assured that the corrosion-resistant parts of their sump pump won’t rust. But, they do, especially due to continuous and prolonged exposure to liquid.

The float uses a rod to move up/down. If you notice any sign of the rod getting corroded or pitted, you can’t hope to fix it using any repair trick. Although the float doesn’t receive any external force that may break it, it may split or get punctured throughout regular usage.

Under these circumstances (rust or damage), buying a new product happens to be the only remedy, and that brings a few things to attention.

Considerations before the Replacement

As you’re looking for a replacement, you’ll have to purchase and install a new device, and here come a few factors.

Look for These 6 Qualities

You can choose any switch after having a perfect understanding of how your sump system works. However, an ideal switch is the one that comes with the following conveniences.

  • Usable as a replacement for virtually any switch
  • Ready to turn a manual sump pump into an automatic system
  • Easy water level (high/low) adjustment settings
  • Suitable for narrow/wide sump pumps
  • Easy to install
  • Adequately protective with all parts placed internally to avoid wearing out quickly

Cost of Replacement

A float switch isn’t expensive, but there’s still an amount you’ll have to pay. Don’t compromise on the build and features only to save some money. Be ready to spend anywhere between $35 and $70. For a decent switch, you may have to spend around $50, and for a more technologically and mechanically upgraded item, the cost may be as much as a hundred bucks.

Will You Do It or Hire Someone?

Deciding on this particular matter is important because it’s directly associated with the overall cost of the replacement. If you think it’s easy to follow the steps and do it, you can handle it without having anyone helping you.

If you’re comfortable asking someone to come over and do the job, you should be willing to pay another hundred bucks, give or take. You can also have the professional running details inspections to help you identify further problems (if any) with the sump system.

5 Steps to Replace Sump Pump Float Switch

Whether you disassemble or reassemble a float switch, you can’t afford to make a mistake because of the way a sump pump works and its dependency on the switch. Before starting the project, make sure the following things are available at your disposal.

  • Replacement Switch
  • Glue
  • Concrete and Silicone Sealant
  • Screwdriver
  • Zip ties
  1. Make the Pump Ready for the Job

Turn the sump pump on and allow it to run. Wait until it removes all the water in the basin. Depending on the amount of water available in the pit, it may take as little as a few minutes to as long as an hour or two. Disconnect the pump from its power source.

  1. Locate the Switch

You may have the idea about the location, but you can always check the user manual that contains the required information. If you don’t have the manual, ask the manufacturer or a neighbor who has the same build and/or type of float switch.

Try to identify each spot that is sealed. You must keep those spots sealed just as they were when you’ll have placed the new switch inside the pump.

  1. Remove the Float Switch

After finding the switch, you need to remove it from its position. Since the switch may have shifted from its original position, or it may have got stuck/tangled. Either way, you can’t help being careful while doing so.

  1. Open the Housing of the Switch

Discover the connections on your switch. Unscrew them carefully lest you should end up causing unwanted damages. You’ll see an electric switch installed inside. Dislocate the switch that’s faulty or about to be changed.

Use glue on the replacement switch. Make sure the glue you’re using is waterproof. Leave the glue on the new switch. It’s important that the glue is dried completely. Once it has dried; you can reassemble the switch and put it back into your pump.

  1. Check Sealed Areas Thoroughly

After putting the switch back successfully, apply the sealant in all areas that you marked previously. Check the areas with patience because you can’t leave any of them unsealed.

It’s just a 5-step job, but the level of caution involved in it makes it a little bit challenging, which is why, some homeowners find it more convenient to add a new switch to the setup instead of replacing the existing one.

Remember that you aren’t removing the old one. You’re just adding an external device. These switches come with piggyback plugs to let you bypass your existing switch.

3 Steps to Add a New Float Switch

As you aren’t repairing or removing anything, you’ll find it easier and less complicated. Here’s how to add a new sump pump switch correctly.

  1. Prepare the Pump

Do this following the ways discussed above. The process isn’t different at all. Examine the existing float and make it okay if it isn’t due to clogging or debris.

  1. Work on the Original Float Switch

The old switch has an electrical wiring arrangement which has to be bypassed. Get the wiring ready and functional to connect to your new switch.

After the circuit of the old has been bypassed properly, it’s time to seal the switch’s electrical housing. Apply silicone sealant for the task.

  1. Attach the Float Switch to the Housing

The new (replaced) float switch should be attached to the housing loosely, not very tightly. Use your zip tie to do it. Attach the electrical wire to the switch. The wire’s the one you may have bypassed earlier. Plug the float into a safe outlet.

One Step to Ensure That the Switch Is Working

Once you’ve managed to finish the replacement or attach an additional switch, you must check it to see if everything is normal. This particular task requires you to adopt different actions depending on the type of switch your pump is using.

If it’s a tether switch, you’re going to be able to do the job easily. Follow these course of actions:

  • Hold the float to position it in a way that its wire side faces down.
  • Check the tether’s position to see if it’s tangled or shifted to the pit’s other side. Disentangle it if required.
  • Check the pump’s function. If it turns on or off with the float’s triggers, the switch is fine.

Testing a vertical switch isn’t difficult either

  • First, you need to find the float.
  • Then, hold and lift the float straight up making sure that it doesn’t have to travel anymore.
  • If your pump starts working as per the float’s triggers, it’s okay.

The procedure doesn’t change much when you want to test a dual float switch. Just find the float and move it up using a coat hanger or screwdriver to see if the pump turns on.

While checking all of these types, you must check if the pump gets turned off as you stop holding the float.

There’s another side to the ‘test’ thing. You might have an electronic sensor switch or a pressure switch. For this, you have to identify the inlets leading to the sump basin. See if they’re plugged with a test plug or a large towel.

With the inlets plugged in, you can use a bucket or hose to fill your pit with water. Now is the time to observe the sump pump cycles. Seeing an active pump is a good thing, but it needs to turn off accordingly to avoid getting premature burnout.

If there’s a piggyback switch available, chances are that the above tests won’t work. You should be doing things differently this time to test the pump –

  • Locate and separate the male plug first and then the piggyback switch plug.
  • Locate the outlet and plug the pump’s plug carefully into it. It should get the pump turned on.

It’s a useful trick during an emergency. In the face of sudden basement flooding and upon the discovery that the float switch is out of order, you can count on this method. However, you can’t forget about your safety because you’ll be dealing with electricity which demands caution.

One Last Thing to Remember!

After knowing the procedure, you may wonder how long after the same thing will have to be done. Frankly speaking, the service life of a float switch depends on its design, rating, configuration, and overall build quality.

These switches are designed to carry as much amperage as the pump has. So, it’s imperative that the float can handle the specific amperage of your sump pump. Even the slightest compromise on this particular factor may cause the switch to fail.

Apart from the longevity of the sump system, a float switch should work fine for at least a couple of years. With timely maintenance, it may last for a longer period. It’s not strange to see the switch becoming next to useless long before the pump itself.

Whatever may go wrong with the float switch, you can’t let it go on that way because it will cause further problems to the entire system eventually.

That’s all we have to inform you. Looking for further assistance? Feel free to let us know!

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