How To Fix A Smoking Sump Pump?

When water from above-ground melting rain or snow makes its way into the basement, an indoor sump pump is required to help drain the excess water and keep things dry. However, sump pumps don’t always perform perfectly. If you have just witnessed the unpleasant sight of smoke coming from the pump and seeking ways to fix it, there is no need to look any further; this article will show you how to fix a smoking sump pump so that everything works properly again.

Pumps can smoke for many different reasons, but regardless of why it’s smoking, it is likely not something you want to happen again. When your pump starts smoking, it overheats and stresses your engine and components. So let’s look at how to fix a smoking sump pump so that you don’t see that warning light again anytime soon.

How to fix a smoking sump pump: What to do?

Several scenarios could result in smoke emanating from your sump pump.

The most likely cause is that your pump has failed and is no longer pushing wastewater from the tank. 

This could be due to a malfunctioning motor overheating and burning out or a clogged pump preventing it from moving efficiently.


Another scenario is that the wastewater in your tank is too thick and dense, preventing it from flowing down the pipe to the drain field. In this case, the pump may be working fine, but the wastewater may need to break down before it can be pumped out of the tank. 

Lastly, the septic tank could have cracks or holes, causing water to leak. In this case, the pump is trying to do its job but can’t move any wastewater through the broken septic system.

Can a sump pump catch fire?

Yes, a sump pump is an electrical device that can burn itself in extreme conditions. Though there are numerous explanations, for example:

  • Your sump pump has become old or overworked
  • Inadequate installation
  • Extension cord is the incorrect size
  • Power failure/surge
  • float switch becomes clogged
  • Wiring from the past
  • Poor electrical work
  • Lack of or poor maintenance

Regularly cleaning up dirt and filth is essential to avoid damage. You should keep an eye on how it performs to determine whether it can support the load.

How to fix a smoking sump pump: Common smoking causes

Let’s look at strategies for how to fix a smoking sump pump and steam next. If you smell a burning smell or the pump is hot to the touch, you may have a severe problem with your hands.


Fire extinguishers and smoke detectors

Sump pump fires are becoming more common. These occur most frequently during the colder months when things freeze or there is a high water table. A well-maintained sump pump and basic procedures in the event of a fire can help to avoid disaster.


Although you may have solid fire prevention behaviors upstairs, it is easy to overlook a rarely used basement. The easiest way to safeguard your family from a sump pump fire is to keep a fire extinguisher rated for electrical fires and a smoke detector in sync with upstairs sensors.


Insufficient lubrication

If the oil in your sump pump runs out, the parts can grind together and produce smoke, or this has gotten too far; your sump pump may need to replace entirely. 

One of the reasons it is vital to verify that your pump is storing oil and that your sump pump oil leaks are rectified as soon as possible is that this is one of the most severe consequences of a leak. 


Float stuck

In conceding your sump pump float is blocked, your pump may need to know when to shut down. Most sump pump float stuck is tethered floats attached to the sidewalls of your sump pit. In case your sump pump operates continuously without a break, it will become heated and begin steaming and smoking. 


Electrical problems

A fractured sump pump assembly might allow water to enter parts of the sump pump that are supposed to be dry at all times. This can result in pump corrosion and electrical faults. Wiring in your home can also play a role. This is more frequent in older homes with obsolete wiring, although electric current problems can also occur in modern homes. 


Freezing or clogging of discharge pipes

A fixed discharge line can make a pump run continuously. The water around the pump may feel warm as well. This, of course, occurs most frequently during freezing weather.

During colder and wetter weather, inspect your discharge pipe for ice and, if necessary, install accessories to avoid ice development. Sometimes simply keeping your basement warm isn’t enough.


A sump pump specialist can advise you on what you can add so you don’t have to be concerned every time the temperature drops.


Sump pump hot to the touch

Some pumps run hotter than others, but if your pump is hot to the touch, there could be a problem. The engine is overworked if the pump is desirable and may soon burn out. It’s vital to note that pumps have powerful motors and can move water each hour, so they’ll grow hot after a while.


Smells of a burning sump pump

Suppose your sump pump is the wrong size. In that case, the engine may be working too hard after operating for extended periods, resulting in a burning smell and the possibility of a fire. 

If you go down the basement and notice a burning smell from the sump pump, the motor may be on the verge of failing.

How to fix a smoking sump pump: Preventive measures 

The most common problem in how to fix a smoking sump pump is a sump pump clogged with debris. Although they are not as prone to this problem as a standard inline pump, some smokers may find their pumping device clogged after a while. 

If you suspect that your pump has become clogged, there are three things you can do:

There are also other preventive measures you can take to help keep your smoking pump in good condition. The most important thing is regularly cleaning out your machine’s inside because debris can accumulate and cause problems. 

Make that the location of your pump installation is free from any damage from physical things like chairs or desks. Last but not least, ensure that you maintain a consistent water level and that you’re utilizing the appropriate water pressure for the diameter of your hose.

  • Check the belt and hose

The pump belt is the first to check when your septic tank starts smoking. Loose or broken belts can cause the pump to overheat and even break down over time. You can quickly inspect your pump and belts by removing the septic tank’s lid. 

Make sure to put the lid back on after you finish. If you notice that the belt is loose or broken, you can replace it by shutting off the power to the pump, loosening the old belt, and putting a new belt on the pump. 

Make sure that the belt is tight enough that it won’t slip but not too tight so that it can’t move freely. You can also check the hoses connected to the pump to ensure they aren’t clogged or leaking. If there are any signs of wear or damage, replace them to prevent wastewater from escaping from the pump.

  • Repair or replace the impeller

Replace the impeller if you observe that waste builds up in the tank and isn’t pumped out. This portion of the pump moves water frequently built of a rigid wire mesh. If the wastewater in your tank is too thick to be rolled, you can try cleaning the impeller to see if that will help. 

Cleaning the impeller doesn’t increase the flow of water; you may need to replace it by shutting off the power to the pump, removing the lid, taking the pump apart, and removing the impeller. You can purchase a new impeller at your local hardware store and replace it in the pump by threading it onto the shaft that connects the impeller to the motor.

  • Change the oil

To address the problem of how to fix a smoking sump pump, the easiest way to check the pump’s health is by taking off the lid and checking the oil level in the tank. If the oil level is low, your pump may need some maintenance. 

You should perform maintenance on the pump every few years, and the best time to do this is during the fall. Be careful when cleaning the tank to avoid contacting the wastewater inside. While you have the lid off the tank, use this as an opportunity to clean the inside to prevent debris and build-up from clogging the pump in the future.

You can clean the tank by spraying it with a garden hose and putting a few drops of household cleaner, like soap and water, inside to help break down debris. You can use a long-handled scrub brush to gently break down any build-up that has built up inside the tank.

  • Check for clogs and blockages

In the steps above, there could be a clog in the line that needs to clear. You can clear a clog by shutting off the power to the pump, removing the lid, and peering into the tank to locate obstruction. You may need to use a long tool to reach the clog and dislodge it. 


If you can’t see the clog, you may need to enlist the help of a professional to locate and clear it for you. You can also use this opportunity to look at the rest of the septic system to ensure everything is in working order. 

You may notice a crack in the tank or broken or damaged piping in the drain field, or if you find any issues, you should repair or replace them before they lead to more significant problems like sewage leaks or health hazards.

Summing up

As you read this article, you’re indeed responding with how to fix a smoking sump pump so that everything begins working correctly again. Smoking pump problems are more common during the cold winter or when water levels rise too high. However, you can easily prevent these situations by taking basic precautions and maintaining your sump pump.

Rest assured, we have already explored the causes and recommended practices for dealing with an overheated, burning, or smoking pump.

Read more: 

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Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen

Michael Bowen is an ambitious entrepreneur who has been in the business of building homes since he was 19. Michael's commitment to honesty, integrity, and high-quality workmanship has earned him a reputation as one of the best in the business.

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