Sump Pump Maintenance Schedule Or Flood ?

Sump Pump Maintenance Schedule Or FloodIf your home has a sump pump you need a sump pump maintenance schedule because the last thing you want is a flooded basement. It’s simple keep your sump pump working properly and your basement will stay dry .

At least twice a year,  shortly before the rainy season and again when the spring snow melts, check your sump pump. Your sump pump is a mechanical device, which means that parts will wear out. Periodic maintenance can alert you of failing parts before they cause problems, namely a flooded basement. Having a flood in your basement will result in damage to your floors, drywall and possibly other building components.

Always refer to manufacturer instructions as the guide for pump  maintenance and installation. But here are some general guidelines you can follow.

Preform a Visual Inspection

WARNING :Unplug the sump pump before doing any work on your pump

  1. If a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) is installed at the outlet or in the electric panel, make sure it is working. Use the test button to confirm proper ground-fault protection. A GFCI is a safety device. It is generally not required on a dedicated single receptacle used for sump pumps. The GFCI could trip for various reasons, resulting in  the sump pump not working. If a GFCI is present then  ensure the GFCI is turned on and sump pump is operational.
  2. Remove the sump pump cover.

There are 3 common types of lids which have slightly different removal methods.

One piece sump lid

Remove sump lid by unscrewing the bolts holding the cover in place. When loosened, slide the lid up the pipes and cords that pass through it. If you need more space, rotate the lid around the discharge pipe. This should allow room to complete the remaining steps.

Two piece sump lid

This type of lid  has two sections that are either separate or are joined with a hinged joint. One section usually has the discharge pipe from the pump passing through it. The other section usually has a white round cap plugged into a hole.

Unscrew the bolts that secure the section that DOES NOT  have the discharge pipe passing through it. Carefully fold open or remove the section your working on. This will allow for ample room to perform maintenance. Keep the section of the lid with the discharge pipe attached . If more space is required then loosen the section with the pipe through it as described above.


Clear sump lid

This is a see-through Plexiglas cover that is sealed to the basement floor, rather than the sump frame. It also requires additional steps to re-seal once opened. The clear lid may or may not be attached with screws that tap into the

concrete floor. If there are screws, remove them and set them aside until you’re ready to replace the lid . Grab an edge of the lid, and carefully lift it up until the sealant or caulk around the edge has loosened from the floor. Work your way around the lid until the entire seal between the lid and floor is loose.

Now slide the lid up, allowing the pipes to pass through it. This should allow for enough room to perform maintenance. You may have to rotate the lid around the PVC discharge pipe to make more room to work.

3. Inspect the sump pit for any dirt or debris that might obstruct the float, clog the pump impeller or the discharge tube.

Look for signs of sediment or sand

Sand around the sides of the sump  or at the bottom of the sump could be a signal of a problem. This is because that sediment may be entering the sump from the foundation drains.

While a small amount of sediment or sand at the bottom of the sump is normal, damage may result because of excessive amounts .

If there is an excessive amount of sediment entering the sump, contact a qualified trades person to determine if additional action is needed.

4. Make sure the pump is positioned so that the float that switches the pump on and off moves freely. Ensure it is not obstructed by the discharge piping or other objects. A float that is obstructed can result in a flooded basement.

5. Check for a small weep hole in the discharge pipe directly above the pump. Add one if needed, or clear the weep hole if blocked. This hole prevents a possible airlock from occurring in the discharge lines.

6. Check the drain line from the pump, look  for signs of corrosion, holes, damage or leaks.

7. Visually inspect all alarm mechanisms if you have one. Check the exposed metal parts and connections for corrosion. You can  apply a silicone water repellent spray to deter corrosion. Refer to manufacturers instructions when applying silicone spray.

8. Make sure the drain line is securely attached every three feet or so.

9. Verify that there is a check valve in place . It should be located on the drain line, just above the sump cover. Contact a licensed trade person to add a check valve if one is not present.


Sump Pump Operational Checklist

1. Confirm the pump is securely plugged directly into the electrical outlet.

2. If the sump pit is empty, add enough water to ensure that the pump turns on and off properly. Usually 3 to 4 gallons is enough to activate the pump.

3. When talking about a sump pump that has automatic preset sensor switches. If the water exceeds the top of the pump before turning on or if the pump does not shut off when water drops again.  There may be a defective sensor or other problem. Refer to the manufacturer’s set-up instructions, or contact a qualified trades person.

4. If the pump has an adjustable float switch, the pump should start pumping at the set- on level and stop pumping after the water level drops.

5. A small stream of water should spray out from the weep hole in the discharge line near the pump to prevent air lock. If the weep hole is blocked, unplug the sump pump and clear the blockage.

6. The pump should not have to run all the time. If it does, try setting the float or pump higher in the pit. If this doesn’t help keep the water from reaching the top of the sump, a larger pump may be required .

7. Check the discharge or drain line for any leakage and repair as determined

8. If you have unplugged the sump pump, plug the sump pump in again after this step. Check that the circuit breaker is switched to the ON position.

Wrapping Up Your Sump Pump Maintenance

  • Replace the sump lid
  • Reconnect all pump electrical plugs back into the wall receptacles
  • Check that all power sources for the primary and backup system are in the “ON” position and the system is ready for operation.

If the sump has a clear plexi-glass cover make sure that the cover is sealed to the basement floor with new sealant. Replace all screws if any are being used. Sealing the lid will prevent radon from entering the basement through the foundation drains and unsealed sump.

Outside your house

If your sump pump discharges to your yard, check the discharge point. Make sure that water can flow freely from the discharge point. If there is any debris in the area, clear it away from the outlet.

If the sump pump discharges to an underground pipe that connects to the storm sewer system or an infiltrator. Check the air gap and clean-out assembly at the exterior wall of house.

Clear the discharge pipe of any obstructions. The air gap is where the smaller 2-inch pipe drops into the larger 4-inch diameter clean out. Ensure the assembly is free of debris such as twigs, leaves, mulch, gravel or rocks.

Next locate and open up the clean out cap of the assembly using a  large adjustable or pipe wrench.  Check the interior of the clean out assembly and put the clean out cap back on.

If you do not have a backup power supply for your sump pump , consider adding one. This is especially important  when your pump runs regularly or there is a high flood potential.

Remember, these tips are general guidelines. Each situation is different , contact a qualified trades person if you have any doubts about any of your sump pump conditions.

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8 thoughts on “Sump Pump Maintenance Schedule Or Flood ?”

  1. Aww from experience sump pump maintenance is a must!. My friend had one and after her husband passed she had not taken care of hers, let me tell you nothing worse than having to lug buckets of water out of the basement by hand especially since her sump pump would have been such a small fix had anybody checked.

  2. Hey, I just love your website, I found so many informative tips that I’ll be using in the future. 

    Now, I live in Arizona and don’t have a sump pump in my home. But I have a friend who does and she’s had a flood in her home a couple of years ago. I didn’t understand it back then, even though she tried to explain me, but now I realize it must have been because of her sump pump. From what I remember, she said something about sand causing it – I saw you also included this in your article, so this must have been the cause.

    I will send her your article so that she can solve any further problem with her sump pump.

  3. Thanks for posting – very helpful information. In the case of sump pumps, a little prevention can go a long way towards avoiding major potential damages an costs. A couple of questions came as I was reading your article:

    1. How important is it to have an alarm mechanism and are there any you would recommend?

    2. What kind of backup power supply would you recommend?

    Thanks again, and all the best,


    • Hi Norman thank you for your comment , having an alarm is a really good idea , if  your sump pump  goes down and you are not aware of it you may have water damage that the costs far surpass the price of a simple sump pump alarm . A battery backup is common sump pump back up power source , I will be writing a post on this soon , keep an eye open for it .

  4. Thanks for the informative post! Yes, I do refer to manufacturer instructions when I want to do pump installation and/or maintenance, though forget sometimes to check the instructions or once in a blue moon. This is really interesting. Kudos for the general guidelines given in the post! Peradventure I didn’t remember to securely plug the pump directly into the electrical outlet, can this cause some damage to the pump? Thanks for the great work!

    • thank you for your comments Israel , no your pump will not be damaged it can either be plugged into a receptacle or hard wired in . If you choose to hard wire it in it will be a bit more involved if it needs to be replaced or removed to be serviced.

  5. Thanks for great ideas of many house tips. I learned how to fix a big hole dry wall from here that must have a support behind before closing the hole. The very good thing of the site are video clips demonstrating the way to do which is very engaged to the audience.

    Can you add ideas of how to clean own kitchen hood?

    Thanks, Won

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