Test your sump pump prior to the rainy season or every few months if it is used more frequently. Slowly add water to the pit to start the pump. If the motor runs but the water drains slowly or not at all, then the inlet screen may be clogged.
Always shut off the power at the breaker box or unplug the pump before working on the unit. Clear any debris you can from the floor of the pit (photo A), then remove the inlet screen and flush with clear water (photo A, inset).
If the pump motor doesn’t start, check the motor reset switch. If that’s not the problem, check the float activation switch—move the float up and down to clean dirty switch contacts and to activate the motor (photo B).
If the pump still fails to start, the motor may be worn out, which means the pump needs to be replaced. There are two basic types of sump pumps: pedestal and submersible. A pedestal pump has the motor mounted above the sump pit so it won’t get wet, while the submersible pump’s motor is designed to operate underwater. Installation is the same for both models.
To begin, remove the old pump, disconnect the discharge line from the drainpipe, and clean the sump pit thoroughly. Connect the new discharge line to the discharge outlet on the pump using a compression clamp or the fitting recommended by the pump manufacturer.
If there isn’t already a check valve in the discharge line, install one, following the valve manufacturer’s instructions. A check valve keeps water from draining back into the pit and typically must be installed within 2 ft. of the pump.
Connect the new discharge line to the drainpipe or check valve (photo C). For best results, the drainpipe should be the same size as or larger than the discharge line.
Drill a 1 ⁄ 8 ” relief hole in the discharge line 2″ above the pump discharge outlet, but below the check valve and within the sump pit (photo C, inset). (Note: The relief hole allows trapped air to escape to prevent air-locking the pump.)
Place the new pump against the pit wall so the float switch faces the center (photo D). Adjust the float switch as recommended by the manufacturer. Test the pump to make sure it operates properly. Make any necessary adjustments.
If your power fails often during severe storms—the times when it’s needed the most—consider installing a battery backup for the system. Pump alarms are also available to alert you if the system fails.
Tools: Screwdriver, drill, scrub brush.
Materials: Sump pump, compression clamp, discharge line.