How to Clean a Sump Pump

A sump pump is one of the unsung heroes in your home. Tucked away out of view, it protects your home against flooding from beneath. But a dirty sump pump can lead to countless issues with the device’s functionality. In this article, we’re showing you the right way to clean your sump pump to prevent any problems going forward.

sump pump in garden park

How to Clean a Sump Pump?

Cleaning a sump pump isn’t difficult, but it requires time and effort. There are a few methods of cleaning a sump pump correctly, and we’ll cover the most effective below. Generally speaking, to clean a sump pump, you’ll need to disconnect the pump, safely remove it from your home, use a hose and cleaning materials to clean the entire unit, and reconnect the device. Of course, it’s quite a bit more detailed to do properly, so read on to learn more.

Guide – Cleaning Your Sump Pump

Above, we briefly explained the process for cleaning your sump pump. We’ll break down the process in more detail. Here’s what you should do to effectively clean your sump pump, and have it running like new:

Step 1: Turn Water Off – Since this process involves removing your sump pump, you’ll want to be sure that no water runs into the sump pit while the sump pump is gone. Turn off the water supply for any fixtures that drain into the sump pump. Additionally, you need to check the forecast in your area. Never do this when rain is forecasted, because rain water will drain under your home into the sump pit. Check for clear skies, and proceed.

Step 2: Turn off and Disconnect – Before tampering with your sump pump, you’ll want to be sure it is turned off and disconnected. Either unplug the sump pump or switch off the circuit that supplies power to the pump. Then, disconnect the sump pump from the discharge pipe, so it’s ready to be removed from the pit.

Step 3: Remove Pump – Remove your sump pump from the ground. From here, you need to find the fastest route to take it outside. Many choose to use a large plastic sheet at this point to wrap their sump pump and prevent dirt and water from trailing through the home in the process.

Step 4: Clean – Once your pump is safely outside, it’s time to start cleaning. Use a hose to blast the pump with water, giving it an initial clean and removing as much dirt and grime as possible. From there, manually scrub and scrape the pump. Removed any stuck-on dirt or debris with a plastic scraper, and scrub the sump pump with a wet rag and a cleaning solution (or even just soap). Give it a final rinse with the hose, and you’ll be good to go.

Step 5: Drain Sump Pit – While your pump is out of the pit, you should drain any water from the bottom of the sump pit. A shop vac is an easy way to do this. This helps get the mucky, dirty water out of the pit, so you aren’t putting the pump directly back into an area to get messy.

Step 6: Clean Check Valve – While you’re cleaning your sump pump, it only makes sense to clean the check valve. It will be easier or harder depending on the type of valve you have. If you can easily disassemble the valve, then you’ll want to rinse it to remove any dirt or debris. Otherwise, drain the check valve into a bucket at the bottom of the sump pit and remove any excess water. Reattach the check valve.

Step 7: Check for Defects – While your pump is out of the pit, you might as well check for any obvious defects or damage to the pump. Check for any cracks on the pump itself or any attached components. If there is minor damage, now would be a good time to fix it or contact someone who can. It might even be the case that you need an entirely new sump pump.

Step 8: Reattach Pump – Wait for the pump to dry and carry it back inside. Place it back in the sump pit and reattach it to the discharge pipe. Turn back on any power or water fixtures that you turned off at the start of the process. You’re done!

Should You Clean Sump Pit?

You can go the extra mile and clean your sump pit, but it isn’t necessarily a requirement. Usually, cleaning your pump is enough. However, if you notice that your sump pit is especially dirty, it might be worth cleaning.

Repairing a sump pump in a basement with a red LED light illuminating the pit

You’ll notice in Step 5 above that you will drain standing water from your sump pit. If, while the pit is dry, you notice that it’s especially dirty and mucky, then you may want to clean it. The best way to do so is to scrape any stuck-on mud, dirt, or debris from the bottom and walls of the pit using a plastic scraper. Then, remove all this debris from the pit itself.

It’s definitely a strenuous process, which is why we’d only recommend it if it’s especially dirty. If you think this debris will clog the pump, then it’s a worthwhile process.

Why Does a Sump Pump Have to be Clean?

A sump pump needs to be clean so that dirt and debris don’t build up within the sump pit and within the pump’s interior and connected components, including the discharge pipe and check valve. This debris can clog the sump system, which will cause it to inadequately drain water from your home and can eventually cause the system to stop working effectively. In other words, it can lead to flooding!

Be sure to regularly check your sump pump to be sure that it is clean and functioning properly. If you notice your pump isn’t draining water effectively – water levels are too high or there is actual flooding – then it might be time for a clean. Of course, it could also be a sign of numerous other problems with the sump pump system. If you’re having trouble identifying the issue, call a professional who can identify and fix the issue for you.

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