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How To Clean A Sump Pump

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If your home has a sump pump, regular maintenance is necessary to keep it fully functional. The last thing you’ll want to discover is that a blockage has prevented it from working when needed. 

Keeping it clean will ensure that your pump is clear and always ready for action. Below, we provide all you need to know on how to clean a sump pump and why it’s important. 

First Thing’s First: What is a Sump Pump?

Sump pumps are used to pump out flooding water. They are common fixtures in the basements and crawl spaces of Indianapolis homes, where pooling water is a frequent threat.

Given that much of the area is formerly wetland and surrounded by rivers, buildings here are at significant risk of minor to even severe flooding. Sump pumps play a critical role in helping local homes avoid water damage during the rainy season. Unfortunately, they are prone to clogging with sand, gravel, and any other debris that may wash into the pump when it’s working.

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How Often Should I Clean My Sump Pump?

Different tasks will need to be performed at different intervals to keep your sump pump fully clean.

Monthly/Quarterly: If your washing machine drains into your sump pump, clear out the pump screen every month. If not, do this every quarter.

Annually: Remove the sump pump to clean out the pit and fully clean the pump before replacing.

*Note: If your sump pump has been working overtime due to especially wet conditions, it’s a good idea to perform both cleanings and inspections sooner.

Signs Your Sump Pump Needs Cleaning

If you maintain a regular cleaning schedule, you should be able to avoid backups. But there are a few signs that will alert you when another cleaning is due:

  • Rising water, or water levels that do not lower
  • Grinding or other strange noises
  • Foul or musty odors (from built-up organic matter)
hard water damages plumbing

Cleaning Your Sump Pump

If you’re planning to DIY your sump pump cleaning, it’s important to follow the right steps. You’ll need to clean not only the pump itself, but the pit it is installed in as well.

  1. Turn off pump and disconnect from both the power source and the discharge pipe.
  2. Lift pump from the pit and wrap it in a plastic bag to prevent dripping.
  3. Move pump to an outdoor location with access to a hose. Use hose to thoroughly spray pump, removing all residue. Cleaning brushes or scrapers may be necessary to remove caked-on debris.
  4. Give the entire pump a final rinse and bring it back to the installation location. (Don’t put it back in the pit just yet!)
  5. Locate the check valve on the discharge pipe. Place a bucket underneath and disassemble the valve to drain water. Rinse valve, then reassemble and reattach to the discharge pipe.
  6. Use a shop vacuum to remove all water and debris from the pit.
  7. Allow pump to air dry, or dry with towels before placing it back in the pit.
  8. Reconnect pump to discharge pipe and power source.
  9. Mark date of cleaning for future reference.
cleaning a sump pump checklist

Professional Sump Pump Maintenance and Inspection

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Because sump pumps are so essential to preventing water damage, it is recommended that you let a professional handle the more intensive annual cleaning. An expert will also be able to perform a thorough inspection during this time, identifying any broken parts or other malfunctions that could spell trouble. 

Hamm and Sons Plumbing has been helping Indianapolis residents with their sump pumps since 1984. We offer cleaning, inspections, and repair services.

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