Sump Pump Cleaning Guide – Pit, Drain Pipe & Washing Solution

If you have no idea how to clean a sump pump, then I suggest you keep reading.

In this article, I’ll be walking you through the entire process of keeping your sump pump clean.

Stay with me!

How To Clean A Sump Pump

Sump pumps have helped homeowners keep their basements dry for years. In fact, these devices are largely responsible for flood prevention in times of heavy rains and major leaks.

As long as they are in good condition, then you can expect optimum performances at all times.

That being said, keeping them in good condition is heavily connected to how well you keep them clean. This is because the cleaner they are, the freer they will be from debris, and the better they will perform.

Why It Is Important To Clean Your Sump Pump

A lot of sump pump owners may think that cleaning the device is unnecessary. That assumption is wrong, as a dirty sump pump has no advantages whatsoever.

Here’s why you need to clean your sump pump regularly.

Better sucking and discharging ability: A sump pump is made up of several components, one of which is the impeller. This component is shaped like a fan, and when it spins, it sucks in the standing water and passes it to the discharge pipe.

If there is debris around the impeller or stuck in the discharge pipe, then the pump will not be able to suck in the standing water and discharge it.

There’s another sump pump component called the inlet screen. This blocks debris from entering the machine, but it too can get clogged. When it is packed, suction will no longer be possible and the sump pump will begin to malfunction.

The machine will last longer: When your sump pump is cleaned regularly, the components will function better and last longer.

You will also potentially save hundreds of dollars on fixing damaged parts as a result of poor maintenance.

The chances of basement flooding will be reduced: The only way your sump pump can suck out standing water from your basement is when it functions properly. Unfortunately, that won’t be possible if your sump pump is dirty.

Imagine a whole day of heavy rains, and all you’ve got to save your basement from flooding was a clogged sump pump? That would be disastrous!

A clean sump pump reduces the chances of mold growth: The connection between a clean sump pump and how it can help prevent mold growth can easily be established.

When your sump pump is clean, it will be free of debris and other dirt particles that can cause it to malfunction. And when your sump pump functions properly, it will do its job when the time comes.

As it gets rid of standing water, it eliminates the dampness in your basement, and it is common knowledge that mold loves to grow in damp environments.

Don’t forget that mold is a dangerous fungus that causes allergies and worsens respiratory problems.

Now that you understand why it is important to keep your sump pump clean, let’s take a look at how you can go about it.

I have to be considerate towards the non-DIY individuals, as not everyone has the interest or time to clean their sump pumps themselves.

It’s a fairly easy job, and really, you don’t need any help to do it. But if you’re not just cut out for it, then you have no choice but to get someone else to do it for you.

This would be a friend, family member, or a professional. The last of which you’ll have to pay a service charge.

If you’re willing to do the cleaning yourself, then keep reading and I’ll show you how.

The Items You Will Need To Clean Your Sump Pump

Gather up all the necessary materials you will need to give your sump pump a thorough clean. These tools will make the job go easy.

Here’s what you’ll need.

  • A scraping tool
  • A bucket
  • A garden hose
  • A tarp or plastic sheets
  • A wet/dry vacuum

You probably have these items at home already, so you can begin cleaning as soon as you finish reading this article.

I have to issue an important word of caution – Ensure that you clean your sump pump only on days where there is no rain, and when there is no water flowing into the sump pit.

More importantly, DO NOT attempt to clean the sump pump when it is still connected to a power outlet. This will put you at risk of an electric shock.

Make sure that the power cord is disconnected first before you begin.

Now follow these steps to clean your sump pump.

Step one: Remove the pump

After you have unplugged the sump pump from its power source, you can grab it with both hands and lift it out of the sump pit.

Be sure to place it in an area that will be very easy for you to clean. You should also be able to access all the sides of the pump from the position where you place it.

Do not drop it on the ground with force, as it is a delicate machine and one or two components might get damaged if not put down with care.

Step two: Wrap the pump

To spare yourself the stress of doing extra cleanups after cleaning the pump, then I advise you first to wrap the bottom of the sump pump in the plastic tarp or sheet.

Step three: Spray the pump

This is where the garden hose comes in. Connect it to a water source and spray the sump pump.

Ensure that you move the hose all around the sump pump so you don’t miss a spot. Remember, dirt and debris can lodge in areas that are not clearly visible, so give the pump a thorough blast.

Step four: Scrape the residue

After giving the sump pump a spray down, take a look at it to check for any leftover residue. If you’ve never cleaned the pump before, then I expect some stubborn debris to be stuck around it.

Since those couldn’t be removed with the hose, you can grab your scraping knife and use it to get them off.

Be careful as you scrape off the debris, remember that there are small wires and other components inside the pump. Make sure you don’t nick anything.

Step five: Rinse the pump

After you’re done scraping the stubborn residue, you can get them off completely with your garden hose.

Give the machine another thorough spray to remove all the leftovers hanging behind. Make sure you get all the debris off the inlet screen, the float switch, and the impeller.

Step six: Drain the check valve

The next step would be to drain the check valve. Ensure that your bucket is close by when you do this.

As you drain the check valve, position it above the bucket so that the water flowing from it will be collected by the bucket. Failure to do this will mean having dirty water splashed all over your basement floor.

Step seven: Remove the water from the sump pit

Grab your wet/dry vacuum and use it to get rid of all the standing water in the sump pit. You can also use it to suck up any water that accidentally spilled on the floor.

Step eight: Reconnect the pump

So, you’re done cleaning and your sump pump is free of debris. The next thing to do is to reconnect it back to the power source.

Carefully place the pump back into the sump pit and make sure all the components are in the same position as they were before you took it out.

Check the breaker to ensure it’s in the “ON” position (that’s if you turned it off during cleaning)

Bonus Tip

When you’re done, be sure to take a note of the day you had the sump pump cleaned. Place the note in a place where you can easily access it to serve as a reminder of the last time you cleaned it.

This will let you know if your sump pump is overdue for cleaning or not.

How Often Should I Clean My Sump Pump?

Ideally, it would be appropriate to clean your sump pump at least once in 6 months. This however depends on how active your sump pump is during the year.

If you don’t live in areas that experience heavy rains or your basement is thoroughly waterproofed, then your sump pump wouldn’t have too much to do.

The same cannot be said for those that regularly experience water problems in their basement.


If you own a sump pump, then you have to practice the habit of cleaning it occasionally. Add it to the other annual or quarterly maintenance chores you do at home to ensure it stays in good shape.

You wouldn’t want a malfunctioning sump pump or one that is stuck working during heavy rains!

I hope this article on how to clean a sump pump has been helpful.

Thanks for reading!

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