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How To Unclog A Sump Pump

By October 17, 2022Basement
A new basement sump pump

Coming home after a long day of work and noticing a loud noise coming from your basement can be rather frustrating. Immediately, you head downstairs to try and figure out what is causing this loud noise. As you approach your sump pump, you realize that it is the reason for the loud noise. There must be a clog in your sump pump. How to unclog a sump pump? Shut it off and begin to assess and clean the filter screens and debris from the sump pump.

Let’s take a look below at how to unclog a sump pump.

What Is A Sump Pump

A sump pump is installed in your basement to keep water from intruding and flooding your basement. If the basement is not waterproofed, then you need something to keep the excess water from a storm, out of the basement. The sump pump is installed in a pit and acts to pump out any water that is attempting to gain access to your basement. Make sure to have a battery backup to your sump pump. You wouldn’t want the power to go out, and your sump pump fails.

Tools Needed

With any project, there are tools or equipment needed for success. Let’s take a look at what we could need for this project.

Make sure your sump pump doesn't get clogged.

How Do I Unclog My Sump Pump

Just like any other appliances in your home, malfunctions could occur to your sump pump. In this case, a clog sump pump could cause some issues. If you have a clogged sump pump, follow these instructions to ensure that it becomes unclogged. Let’s take a look below:

  1. Check it out – look at the discharge line and make sure that it is clear from debris, dirt, or any object that could be the size of a tennis ball.
  2. Remove it all – clear whatever it is that is plugging up your discharge line or pipe.
  3. Shut it down – unplug the sump pump from its electrical outlet
  4. Take it off – remove the lid to the sump pump pit or basin.
  5. Inspect it – check the screen on the pump where the water enters the pump. Take your flashlight and explore the pump while it is in the basin or pit.
  6. Remove the mess – if there is debris in the basin or affixed to the sump pump, make sure to remove it all.
  7. Scoop – scoop out all of the dirt and debris from the sump pump pit as well as wipe down the basin walls to ensure all excess material that could clog the sump pump is removed.
  8. Put it backdrop of the sump pump back into the pit so that it rests in the center flooring of the sump pump pit.
  9. Provide power – plug the sump pump back in.
  10. Add water – five gallons of water added to the pit would be sufficient. Check the float and see if it trips the sump pump to activate on. Next, add another 5 gallons of water to determine if the sump pump is now working efficiently.
  11. Put the lid back – replace the lid to the basin back to its initial spot.

Other Recommended Maintenace

Now that you have an understanding of how to unclog your sump pump, it would be a good idea to also check to ensure that the sump pump isn’t pumping water into your yard. There could be a leak as a result of built-up pressure in the discharge line. Make sure to have the full sump pump system inspected.

Next, have your home inspection company look into how water is getting into the basement. You don’t want your sump pump working too hard. Eventually, it will crap out on you. So, be sure to figure out if your gutter system is what has allowed excess water to get into the basement.

Lastly, don’t be fooled into thinking excess water only appears during heavy rain. Your septic tank could be full and overflowing into the yard. The waste and water could end up in the basement and begin clogging your sump pump. Make sure to properly maintain your septic system and empty the septic tank on a regular basis.

An old sump pump that no longer functions properly will need to be replaced.

When Do I Call A Professional

As soon as you notice that your sump pump is not working properly, you should contact your local master plumber. They will be able to repair or clean any part of your sump pump system. If you aren’t sure who to call and want to assess for any further damage, call your local home inspection team. They can inspect your basement and home to ensure that the sump pump is doing its job. Also, they can refer a reputable master plumber.


When it comes to a sump pump, you want to make sure that it works at all times. If it gets clogged, then you could end up with a flooded basement. Just to be on the safe side, make sure that your sump pump is maintained at all times. If you aren’t sure what is needed for your sump pump’s continued success, reach out to your local home inspection team. They can inspect your sump pump’s entire system, and ensure that the system is working properly. Reach out to Alpha Building Inspections if you have a new home or if you need a recommendation for a professional general contractor in Merrimack, NH, and surrounding areas.