Sump pumps are installed in some homes with basements, engaging automatically when a sump well fills with water and pumping excess water away from the home. Several types of sump pumps are available, all of which serve the same basic purpose. If you notice your are leaking oil from the sump pump housing, you may have a problem that requires a quick fix or a new pump.
Diagnose the Problem
Depending on the type of sump pump you have, you may notice oil leaking from the housing in different ways. Pedestal sump pumps, which are mounted to vertical stands, have their housings exposed, allowing you to inspect and service them easily. Running your hand around the housing, especially over its seams, will reveal the presence of oil. A larger sump leak may leave a small oil puddle on the floor below the pump.
Submersible sump pumps, which sit inside sump wells underwater, are more difficult to diagnose. If the housing leaks oil, the oil will rise to the surface of the water. However, you'll need to remove the pump to determine if the oil is from the housing or from another source, such as a spill in your basement, the pump seal or another part of the pump.
Sump Pump Failure
Oil is used to lubricate and cool the motor of a sump pump. This means that when the housing leaks oil, it can cause a number of problems. A lack of lubrication can cause the motor to overlabor and eventually fail. In the case of submersible sump pumps, oil leaking out of the housing means that water can leak in. When water enters the housing, it can cause a short circuit or corrode the motor, both of which will eventually result in pump failure.
Other Sump Leak Problems
An oil leak from the housing of a pedestal sump pump may leave an oil puddle on your basement floor, which poses the potential for slips and falls. If oil enters the sump well, whether through a leak in a submersible pump's housing or through a leak from a pedestal pump that runs into the well, the oil can contaminate the environment once the pump engages and pushes the liquid into the soil in your yard.
Repairing the Problem
The presence of oil on a pedestal sump pump's housing is not as pressing of an issue as a leak from a submersible pump. Because submersible pumps are surrounded by water, there is greater danger of major damage if these pumps develop leaks. Whatever type of pump you have, the leaking oil may be due to a faulty gasket or a crack in the pump's housing. A replacement gasket may solve the problem, but if the leak persists you'll likely need to buy a new pump assembly before the next heavy rainfall.
Dennis Hartman is a freelance writer living in California. His work covers a wide variety of topics and has been published nationally in print as well as online. Hartman holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Syracuse University and a Master of Arts from the State University of New York at Buffalo.