How to Clean a Sump Pump

Homeowners know if you have a sump pump, it is there to ward off floods, pumping water away as it collects in the sump pit. In order for it to do its job, however, you will have to perform regular maintenance to ensure that gravel and sand do not clog up the pump. Without regular checkups, cleaning a sump pump, and checking other items like the discharge pipe/drain line or circuit breaker/ power source, a flooded basement could be the signal that a buildup of debris has caused a blockage or broke your sump pump system, a signal that of course, comes too late. Here then are some DIY things homeowners need to do regularly if there is a sump pump system in their home.

Make Sure It Works

First, you want to ensure that your sump pump is actually in working order. Fill the sump pump pit with enough water to cover the surface of the pump and for the float switch to lift, which should turn the pump system on. If it stays off, check to see if the power source works. If necessary, you can check the circuit breaker too.

If the pump is still off and the outlet is good to go, you can pull out your sump pump owner’s manual to find out how to reset your motor. Does the flotation device work? Perhaps the float switch needs to be replaced. Or maybe your sump pump has been clogged for so long that the motor burned out, in which case you would have to get a new sump pump. This is not something you can wait on either; even if you are not running the risk of a flooded house, you could be exposing your house to mold and mildew from the standing water or groundwater that is just sitting there. This is a costly thing to repair.

Clean the Pump

If the pump does start running, let it drain as much water as possible, or vacuum out the remaining water with a wet-dry vacuum, or shop vac. Then you can prep the pump system for cleaning. For this, you should grab some rubber protective gloves, a small plastic can, a screwdriver, and a garden hose. You may need some lighting, and you should also have a garbage can at the ready.

The first step is to unplug the pump’s power source as a safety precaution, even checking the circuit breaker. Then with your screwdriver, you want to disconnect the pipe, right beneath the check valve. Then you can gently take the pump out of the pit, and hold it out over a garbage can to catch any remaining water. You can also benefit from laying down a plastic sheet to help with the mess. After you remove the sump pump, you’ll be able to see the bottom of the sump pit. Push the check valve, with the screwdriver if necessary, and this should drain out the water inside the pump. Then you can disconnect the top of the check valve. You can clean this under warm running water, some may use bleach or hot water, before you reattach it. You also want to scrape and wipe off any grime coating the rest of the pump with something like a plastic scraper or other scraping tool.

Now comes the fun part: prepare yourself for potentially powerful odors. Rubber, or other protective gloves on, you can use the plastic cup to scoop out the sludge from the sump pump pit into the garbage can (you might have to take out some bricks at the bottom first). You want to clear out the sump pit entirely if you can. Once this buildup and debris has been removed, then the pump will be ready to be reconnected. Refill the pit with water to determine that everything has been connected correctly, that the pump turns on and the float is unobstructed, free to move. 

While not the most pleasant job, this certainly is necessary. In fact, if you live in a place that is inhospitable to sump pumps, such as in sandy environs, you want to clean your sump pump at least once a year. You definitely cannot go without cleaning it once every five years. Read more sump pump maintenance tips to make sure you are taking the proper steps to keep your sump pump in good condition. Knowing why pumps fail is the best way to ensure yours is in working order.

Having Problems? Contact A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc.

If it is already too late and a sump pump is clogged, or if another problem, such as a burst pipe, leads to a flood, then you can find the emergency service from our team of plumbing technicians. At A-1 Sewer & Septic Service, Inc., we can provide the efficient service you need whenever disaster strikes, and for no extra cost, even if that means solving an issue in the evening or on the weekends. No matter how great or how small your plumbing problem, one of our Kansas City plumbers can provide the service you deserve.

For a no-obligation quote, contact our office today!

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