How to Test Your Sump Pump to Avoid Water Damage

Time: 1 hour

If you live in a low-lying area prone to flooding, a basement sump pump is a crucial bit of machinery for your home. This pump works when water flows into its basin, and it removes the water before it has a chance to build up and cause major damage to your home or belongings. A sump pump is only good in an emergency if it works, though, so it's important to test it regularly and troubleshoot problems -- before the next big storm hits.

What's in it for you?

  • Peace of mind
  • Drier basement
  • Increased home value

How to Test Your Sump Pump:

  1. Inspect the outlet pipe. Your sump pump pushes water out of your basement through a pipe that leads outside. Find this pipe and check it for cracks and other damage. Remove any debris blocking its open end so water can flow freely.
  2. Inspect the pump. Open the lid of your pump (if it has one), and look inside. Clean out any dirt or debris, inside and out. Take this time to clean any debris from the pump basin as well.
  3. Test your electrical connection. A sump pump has two cords: one for the pump and one for the float. Unplug both, and plug in only the one attached to the pump. You should hear the pump come on. If you don't, you may need to call an electrician or repairman to troubleshoot your pump. When finished, plug both back in again.
  4. Test with water. Fill a 5-gallon bucket with water and pour it slowly into the basin. Watch the float to make sure it works properly as you do so and doesn't get caught on anything. When the pump comes on and drains the water, stop pouring. When the water is drained, the pump should turn off. Repeat the test to make sure it's functioning normally. If it fails to turn on or off, you need to repair or replace your pump.

Pro Tip: Test your sump pump quarterly to make sure it's there for you when you need it.

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