Best Sump Pump Float Switch – How To Find It

Does your current sump pump float switch leave something to be desired? Does it fail too quickly? Does the cut on and cut off height cause the pump to run too frequently? I faced all of these issues and want to share how I learned to deal with them and how I found the best switch.

Float Switch Expectations

My expectations were too high. I expected pump switches to last as long as cast iron pump housing. After reading many sump pump blogs by home owners who complained about the short life of switches, after talking with manufacturers who admit float switches are prone to quick failure, after talking with plumbers who make money on homeowners who do not replace their own switch, I concluded rather than complain how short the life of a switch is, I needed to learn how to plan for sump pump float switch failure and find the best one for my water pumping needs.

How To Find The Best

The first thing I did was answer questions regarding my water situation; then I reviewed the available options. It became obvious which option was best suited for my water pumping needs.

Existing Water Situation

Here are the questions I answered to understand my existing water situation. The answer to the following questions led me to find the best float switch solution for my water pumping needs. I am sharing the list with you so you too may find your best solution.

  • Is your house located in a high water table area where heavy rain storms occur frequently? Does your pump run even during a dry season more than once an hour? A factory preset float switch turn on and turn off setting does not work well because the turn on may be too low and there may only be a three to four-inch difference between turn on and turn off.
  • How big is your sump pump pit? Do you have a battery backup and primary submersible sump pump sitting side by side on the sump basin floor and they just fit in the pit? Two pumps means there are also two discharge pipes in the pit leaving no room for a tether float switch.
  • Is the ground water in your sump basin murky, and contaminated with brine or chemicals? Not all sump pump switches handle a pH factor or calcium carbonate well.
  • Are you on a tight budget? It is more economical to replace a float switch than discard the pump when the float switch fails. Not all sump pumps have replaceable switches.
  • Are you a do it yourself homeowner who chooses to replace the float switch? Hiring someone to do the job every two or three years becomes costly. Some switches are easier and quicker to replace than others.
  • How much water must be pumped per minute to handle heavy rain storms? Not all float switches work with a 3/4 horse power pump. The operation factor is dependent upon the number of motor amps the pump requires.
  • Do you like the idea that if your switch fails during an emergency you can plug the pump directly into the wall socket and manually control how frequently it runs? Not all sump pumps have a piggyback float switch allowing you to manually operate it.

Know What Is Available

Of course the most common pumps are those with the tether, vertical float, the diaphragm switch or the electronic controller already mounted to the unit; however, are you aware that a manual pump can be converted to automatic by plugging the motor into an external piggyback switch controller? Surprisingly an automated sump pump with a piggyback switch can also use an independent switch by bypassing the attached float and plugging the motor into the piggyback controller of the external switch. Using an independent switch has many advantages including the flexibility of height placement in the sump pit.

The double piggyback variable level float switch offers the most flexibility. The pump turn on and turn off position can be set according to the home owners pumping situation. Since it is attached to the discharge pipe it is easy to replace. Removal of the pump from the pit is not required. Water contaminates do not affect it.

Receptacle and Switch Repair

If you live in a new home this is not a common problem, but in older homes devices tend to get worn out or broken. Receptacles often lose their ability to hold a plug, usually caused by improper plug removal. That’s right yanking it out by the cord. This also causes stress on the cord that could lead to it’s failure. So when removing a plug DO NOT pull the cord, pull the plug. Switches, on the other hand, wear out simply because they are used a lot.

Fixing a broken switch is a relatively simple task. You must first find out what type of switch you have. If you are in a bedroom or bathroom, you are probably dealing with a simple single pole switch. They are easily identified in that they have ON and OFF printed on them, and there is only 1 switch controlling your light. If you are in larger rooms with two or more doorways, it could be a 3-way or 4-way switch. If you are able to control your light from only 2 places, you are dealing with a 3-way. 3-way switches are always installed in pairs, and it may be necessary to replace one or both. If you can control your light from 3 or more places your dealing with 3-way and 4-way switches. Also the switches will not have ON and OFF printed on them.

Loose devices are a common problem even in new homes. Sometimes when drywallers cut out around boxes, they remove a little too much material. This combined with a box not being mounted flush with the drywall, causes the device to be set back too far in the wall to allow a cover to be installed. Even if you try to install the cover anyway, it may break or become distorted. There are a couple of excellent fixes for these devices. One is a metal bracket that slides in behind the outlet. This works well if there is not too much missing wall material. The other is a plastic shim. These are my personal favorite. They are designed to be installed around the mounting screws of the device, so they do not rely on the wall material to secure them. They are also packaged accordion style with interlocking tabs so you can break off what you need for an exact fit. To install these, first locate the circuit you are working on and shut that breaker off. Remove the device cover, and loosen the mounting screws for the device. Slide your metal bracket in behind your outlet, or shims around mounting screws, and re-tighten mounting screws. If you used the bracket you can re-install your cover. If you used the shims, you may need to add or remove them to get the device flush with the wall. Once the device is flush you can re-install your cover, turn your breaker on, and check your device. If your device is broken or defective let’s go ahead and replace it.

A broken receptacle can be a little difficult depending on how many wires are in the box. The first thing we will do is shut off the circuit we are going to be working on at the panel. An accurate panel schedule will make this step a lot easier. Test your receptacle to insure it is off then remove it. If more than 1 set of wires are attached to the receptacle, you will need to twist the wires together before re-installing the device. If there is only 1 set of wires you can attach them to the device and re-install it. The black wire goes on the brass screw, and the white wire goes on the silver screw. If you can’t tell if the screws are brass or silver, look at the front of the receptacle. The short slot is the black, and the long slot is the white. If there is more than 1 set of wires you will need to twist the wires together. Twist all the black wires together adding an additional wire to attach to the receptacle. Secure them with the appropriate wire nut. Repeat this procedure for the white and ground wires. Install your new device, shim if necessary,turn the breaker back on and test your device. Switches are a little different.

When working on switches it is important to know that the white wire, always used as the neutral, can be used as a hot wire at the switch. This is only permitted in a house, using 2-wire romex as its wiring method. This is not important for attaching wires to the switch, but more for testing live circuits before you begin. Be sure to test all wires at the switch before removing them. A single-pole switch will only have 2 wires attached to it. After shutting off the breaker, check for voltage, then remove the switch. Install the new switch. It does not matter which wire goes on which screw. I prefer to put the hot wire on top. If for some reason there are more than two wires attached to the switch, you will need to twist like wires together as described above. Be very careful here, due to the white wire rule. The hot wire is allowed to be hot at the switch, but cannot leave the switch white. So it is possible to have white and black twisted together. If you are completely confused at this point don’t panic. Just stop and call a qualified electrician. He or she will know what to do. Do not attempt to wire your switch unless you are 100 percent sure you know what you are doing. If you are.1 percent unsure, get qualified help. If you only had the 2 wires, then go ahead and install your new switch, turn on your breaker and test your switch. If that was difficult then 3 and 4 way switches will really make your head spin.

I don’t recommend replacing your own 3 and 4-way switches because it can be a very involved process and a troubleshooting nightmare if you lose track of the wiring. With this in mind if you want to try it, you will need 2 things. Something to mark your wires with, and your electricians phone number. First shut your breaker off and remove your switch from the wall. Do not remove any wires yet. The 3-way will have 3 wires attached to it, and the 4-way will have 4. You will first need to identify the travellers, that is the 2 wires that run between both 3-way switches. If you look at the switch the travellers should be attached to the screws that are the same color. Mark both of them and remove the switch. You can now install your new switch. 4-way switches have 2 sets of travellers, and it is very important that you don’t cross them. Mark all wires before you remove them and replace them EXACTLY like you found them. When you restore power to test, make sure you test all switches involved. As you can see this is an extremely involved process, so if you are confused or unsure do not attempt this repair.

These device replacements can be simple repairs or very complicated troubleshooting projects. 3 and 4-way switches confuse even seasoned electricians, that is why it is best left to well trained professionals. If at any time you feel the least bit unsure of what you are dealing with stop and call a qualified electrician. Mistakes on this project could get very expensive.

!!!!!Always Be Safe!!!!!

What Are the Different Styles of Dimmer Switch?

Installing a dimmer switch in the home can be a great lighting solution for many people, allowing them not only to be able to customise the amount of lighting according to their needs, but also to make significant energy savings at the same time.

In addition to choosing the right technical specification of your new switch, you will also need to consider the style of the switch that you want. Although many people may be familiar with one or two types of switch, there are also several others widely available on the market that could be more suited to their needs.

The most common dimmer switch – and one that most people will be familiar with – is the rotary dimmer, which features a circular knob that can be turned to switch the light on or off and to alter the lighting to the desired level.

Common examples of this type of switch on the market include the Starlight jqp401w and the Starlight Vpro3G dimmer. Each of these are what is known as electro-mechanical dimmers, which require the user to physically turn or move a part of the switch in order to operate the lighting in the room.

These items are in and of themselves fairly stylish and have a modern look, which is different from the traditional light switch style that many of us are used to with conventional room lighting. They are also very simple and intuitive to use, with the user easily rotating the dial into the position that they want.

Items like the rotary Starlight jqp401w are also some of the most affordable types of dimmer switch on the market today, making it a simple,stylish and practical solution for any homeowner looking to install dimmable lighting in their property.

For those who prefer a more sophisticated solution there is also the digital dimmer switch, which differs most significantly from the electro-mechanical switch by being able to be operated from anywhere in the home.

Whereas you need to be next to an electro-mechanical switch in order to adjust the lighting, digital switches will often have remote controls so you can change the lighting level from the comfort of your armchair or sofa. Some switches can be a mix of both electro-mechanical and digital functions for an even more versatile solution.

An example of a popular digital dimming product on the market is the Rako Wireless Dimmer, which comes complete with a control panel that can be installed centrally in the home for altering lighting levels in many rooms at once with absolute ease and simplicity.

A type of switch that is popular with those who like modern convenience blended with traditional style is the toggle touch switch, which operates very similarly to a traditional light switch. Its style resembles the conventional light switch, with the user simply having to flip the switch up or down to operate the light.

Normally, this toggle switch will feature a little slider at the side of the fitting, which can be moved up or down to adjust the level of lighting in the room. This is particularly advantageous because this slider can be positioned in a certain place as a kind of “pre-set” level of lighting that will be produced each time you switch the light on.

Lastly is the touch switch, which – as the name suggests – is operated simply by touching it. Oftentimes, the light level is adjusted by simply touching a particular place on the touch panel. This is a modern solution that is very stylish and also very intuitive for those who are familiar with using many digital devices and touch technology.

There is a huge range of different dimmer switches on the market, ranging from the digital Rako Wireless Dimmer and the touch operated switch to the Starlight jqp401w or the toggle switch. Each one has its own distinct advantages and disadvantages, meaning there truly is a dimmable lighting solution for everyone.