Q. "What is a float switch?"
A. The float switch is what turns your sump pump on and off in response to the water level in the pump pit. It's like a beach ball that "floats" on top of the water. When the water rises, the float rises with it. When it gets high enough, a switch inside the float closes and turns on the pump, draining the pit. When the water drops low enough, the switch inside the float opens and turns the pump off. The cycle is repeated hundreds, thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of times during the life of the switch.
Q. "Why will the float switch fail?"
A. The float switch can fail for any number of reasons. Many times the float simply gets stuck between the pump and the wall of the sump pit. That's because the pump vibrates slightly whenever it runs, and can "walk" across the bottom of the pit, eventually trapping the float between it and the side of the pit. Other times, after so many up and down cycles, it just gives out and stops responding to the rise and fall of the water in the pit. Often it stops working while the pump is running. When this happens, the pump is left switched on so that it runs continuously until it burns itself out. You can't do regular maintenance on a float switch; you can only replace it once it fails.
Q. "What can I do to help prevent water damage and float switch failure?"
A. The float switch hasn't changed much in the 75+ years it's been used to control sump pumps. It is a mechanical device that will eventually wear out. The electronic switches and controllers on the other hand, use reliable microprocessor technology to control the pump. They have no moving parts and use solid-state components to detect the rise and fall of the water in a sump pit or holding tank, which makes them very reliable, but please keep in mind, all man-made devices will fail eventually.
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