Clogged Sump Pump: How To Fix It

A functioning sump pump is responsible for collecting water and removing it from the property’s foundation. But clogs can prevent the pump’s main task from completing as intended. Now you’re wondering about the steps to fix a clogged sump pump. We researched for your convenience and also consulted with industry experts to give you this answer.

Dirt and gunk buildup are usually the causes of clogged sump pumps. Therefore, cleaning the filth from the pumps’ discharge pipes may help restore the machines’ serviceability. The steps for this task are:

  1. Disconnect the discharge pipe from the main unit and unscrew its bottom plate.
  2. Remove the dirt, mold, sediments, and other unclean substances lodged into the pipe.
  3. Apply rust remover if needed.
  4. Reconnect the discharge pipe to the pump and test if it’s working as intended.

At first, this cleaning job may look like a relatively straightforward operation. But miss a few important details and you might commit to costly mistakes. Keep reading as we talk about the steps to clean and fix a clogged sump pump in greater detail.

Plumber repairing a sump pump in a flooded basement, Clogged Sump Pump: How To Fix It

How Do I Know If My Sump Pump Is Clogged?

A functioning sump pump that’s not flowing is a general indicator of a blockage within its discharge lines. In turn, the water stays within the machine, increasing the risks of indoor floods.

Lidless sump pumps often have clogging problems. Outside dirt and debris can enter the water-pumping machine. These unclean substances can become dislodged into the pump’s pipes. The filth and gunk may also enter other areas, such as the sump pump’s switch.

A sump pump with some water around it

Here are some troubleshooting tips if you’re unsure if your sump pump has a blockage:

  • Check for loud humming noises. Low sump pump humming during operation is usually a normal occurrence. But a clog may make the sound louder than usual.
  • Check the vent hole. Debris may enter this area from the outside.
  • Inspect the valve. Ensure that it’s pointed to the ‘Discharge’ position.

Additionally, the cold winter air may freeze the moisture in a sump pump, which results in a blockage. Routine maintenance during the winter may aid in preventing frost and ice buildup in the machine.

How Do You Clear A Clogged Sump Pump?

A sump pump in a home basement-plumbing repair

Cleaning the discharge pipe may unclog a sump pump. Take note that you’ll typically encounter a sump pump filled with water if it has a clog.

Therefore, the initial step to this operation is to remove the water from the machine. You can use another sump pump to suck and discharge the water out of the machine.

Check out this portable water removal pump on Amazon.

Also, ensure that you’re wearing protective gear for this task. For instance, a respirator can help you maintain proper breathing, which can be quite difficult if the area smells like sewage because of the blockage.

Next, wear gloves since you’re going to work with grime and muck. These unclean substances have harmful bacteria that may cause health issues if they enter open wounds.

After clearing the water from the home’s main submersible sump pump, and you completed the rest of the preparations, proceed to the next steps:

What You’ll Need

  • Hose
  • Plastic scraper
  • Cloth or sponge
  • Rust remover (optional)

Step-by-Step Guide

  1. Remove the discharge pipe from the basement plumbing system and take it outside the premises.
  2. Unscrew the pipe’s bottom plate.
  3. Scrape off the loose dirt, mold, and sediments that gummed up on the plate.
  4. Use a clean cloth or sponge dipped in a mild cleaning detergent to remove leftover gunk buildup.
  5. Remove tough muck by blasting the discharge pipe with water from a powerful hose.
  6. If the discharge pipe has a steel construction, use a rust remover to remove the corrosion.
  7. Disinfect the discharge pipe upon removing the gunk buildup. Then, fix cracks and crevices if necessary.
  8. Reconnect the discharge pipe to the main pump and test the system’s operation.

You can watch the video below to see the transformation of a clogged sump pump to one with a clean discharge pipe:

The video below will also teach you about other important sump pump maintenance tips:

How Often Should You Clean Your Sump Pump Pit?

Submersible sump pumps may only need maintenance once per year. Aside from a deep cleansing, proper sump pump care should also entail removing muck from the inlet opening, inspecting the unit for cracks, and repairing these crevices.

Some sump pumps may require monthly cleaning. Homeowners should practice this habit if their water-discharging systems are responsible for removing significant amounts of water. For example, monthly sump pump cleaning might be a requirement if the property has a swimming pool.

How Do You Reset A Sump Pump?

Aside from cleaning a sump pump, resetting the machine may also help restore it to its optimal efficiency. Search for the unit’s reset button. Check the owner’s manual or consult the pump’s manufacturer if you’re having trouble locating this feature.

Once found, hold the reset button for about three to five seconds or as explained by the instructions. The pump should restore proper functionality afterward. If it doesn’t, the unit might be experiencing other problems and may require professional help to repair.

How Much Does It Cost To Unclog A Sump Pump?

The drain pump in a dirty water pool

Professional sump pump unclogging services usually cost $150 to $250 per visit. The expert assistance encompasses solutions like clearing obstructions, cleaning parts, and testing the system.

However, homeowners should expect to pay an extra $45 to $65 per hour if the sump pump needs additional repairs.

What Are The Most Common Reasons For Sump Pump Failures?

Other than blockages, a sump pump can also fail because of different reasons. Some of the malfunctions that this machine can encounter throughout its serviceable life may include:

Heavy Rainfall

A sump pump can only handle a specific amount of water. Heavy rainfall and bad weather may introduce water to the pump in amounts that the unit can’t handle.

Take note that an average sump pump system in sandy soil can keep and discharge water up to 14 gallons per minute for a 1,000-square foot lot.

Also, homes in clay soil may only handle up to 8 gallons per minute for the same lot dimensions. Therefore, rainwater flowing to the pump that’s over eight or 14 gallons per minute may make the system malfunction or fail completely.

Don't forget to read our post on water leaking into the basement after heavy rain to learn more about what you can do if this situation occurs.

Power Failure

Sump pumps need electricity to run, and power surges can disrupt the proper flow of power to the system. If the pump isn’t connected to an anti-surge device, the massive spike in electricity over a short period can cause the entire system to fail.

Check out this surge-protecting extension cord on Amazon.

Old Age

A typical sump pump lasts about 10 years. A system that has an age that’s nearing or is over that period may become prone to different malfunctions like failure to engage.

Make sure to replace your submersible sump pump when it reaches the seven-year mark to avoid experiencing serious issues with the system.

Read our post on the typical lifespan of basement waterproofing for more information about this matter.

Check out this submersible sump pump on Amazon.

Final Words

Make sure that you’re wearing protective gear before attempting to clean or fix a clogged sump pump. Then, remove the faulty pump from its container and clean the blockage that’s preventing the unit from functioning well. Once finished, the pump should work as intended.

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