Sump Pumps 101 - Resource for Homeowners and Contractors

Inspection & Replacement

If your drainage system is collect a lot of water then your pumps operation is a very important factor in preventing flooding. You can check the operation of your sump pump yourself if you like.
If you live in an area that does not have a reliable sump pump service company or a friend that is somewhat mechanically capable you could if you are pretty handy take a look at your sump’s condition and check its operation. Depending on where you live and obviously the amount of rain and or ground water your home is situated in checking your sump pump for operation is a necessary operation at least on an annual rotation, and bi-annual would be better for damper climates. Heading off a leak of a basement flood can prevent a lot of damage and collateral problems even in an unfinished basement.
Sump well and sewage ejection pits look almost identical. If you cannot tell the difference you should call a professional.

Checking Your Sump Pump
Step One, Safety
Safety. If you are not confident working with both water and electricity in the same space or have no experience doing so them do not attempt to even access your sump pump. Many cheap and damaged pumps can be dangerous if they have loose connections bad grounds and other issues too numerous to list here. If you plan to have a friend help make sure that they have the confidence and know how to approach this safely. If you have to wonder, don’t. Call a professional. It is not worth someone getting hurt.
We certainly advise a professional do any and all work on an active sump pump.
If you do choose to proceed, do so knowing the dangers.

Step Two, Locate the Pump
If you cannot locate your sump pump, maybe have a “handy” friend help you through this process. The well should look like a black circle (well lid) on the floor. Quite likely in a utility area. Here are a picture of a few for reference:

Step Three,
Make sure the ground around the sump pump area is completely dry. If it is not wait till it is to proceed. Or simply turn off the breaker to the sump pump in your fuse box and dry the area before trying to access the sump pump.


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Step Four,
Unplug the pump, if there is more than one cord coming from the well unplug all of them. Place the plug in a dry spot

Step Five,
Remove the lid. Often there are pipes protruding from (through) the well lid. Usually a 1.5″ pump discharge pipe. Sometimes there are other pipes entering the well. These may be drain pipe. If one pipe is a gih pressure pipe over 3″ it may be either radon or a sewage ejection line. You should only call a professional to handle the job it these are present.
Most well lids you can remove with your hands some of the better units will have screwbolts through the lid. If you can displace the pipes entering the well enough that you can access move the lid sideways you should be able to check the pumps operation. Sometimes all that is needed is to more the lid over a few inches.

Step Six,
Check if the pump actually operates.
Locate the float mechanism. Raise it and you should hear the pump run. You will need to connect the power to do this.

Step Seven,
Check if the pump will pump water.
If water is present in the well when you activated the pump it should of expelled the water. If this happened then the pump is pumping. If there was no water present in the well you will need to add water. Usually 1-3 gallons is enough. Add it slowly. You should see the water raise the float and the pump turn on. If not call a professional or be prepared to replace the pump.

Reliable Local Sump Pump Services

Virginia and Maryland
Fairfax County
Fredericksburg / Stafford County

Arlington County
Alexandria, Virginia
Loudoun County

Montgomery County
Prince George’s County