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How to Protect Your Sump Pump

Pump It Up to Kick Flooding to the Curb

Protecting Your Sump Pump

Your sump pump can do a lot when it comes to preventing basement flooding. If it’s not working properly, you may not realize it until you’re wading through water in your basement. It’s important to keep water out of your basement because even a small amount can create major issues. Mold can also grow if your basement is too damp. There are some simple steps you can take to maintain and protect your sump pump.

Easy Sump Pump Maintenance

The first thing you should do to maintain your sump pump is check the motor. Lift the cover and pull up the float. If you do this and it doesn’t start running, make sure it is plugged in and there is power. If not, call a plumber. 

Next, make sure the discharge line extends far enough away from your home to keep water away from your foundation. If it doesn’t, you should have a professional reposition, extend or rebuild it. 

You should also have a backup power source for your sump pump. This includes a backup generator. Other backup plans can include a secondary electric pump, battery backup pump, or a hydraulic pump. A hydraulic pump doesn’t require electricity or a battery, so it is suitable for extended power outages.

Preventing Overflow

This sump pump is clean and well maintained.

A working sump pump will flood (or become “overwhelmed”) when it’s not powerful enough to keep up with normal rainwater. It can also overflow after heavy rain, seasonal thaws or if ice is blocking the discharge line.

To prevent overflow, look for debris in the basin and remove it. Next, inspect the check valve. It keeps pumped-out water from flowing back into the pump. This valve should have an arrow pointed away from the sump pump when installed correctly. You should also clean the weep hole, a small hole on the discharge pipe intended to prevent air lock with a toothpick as needed. You should also inspect and clean the impeller, which actually moves the water. It will make a strange noise or shut the pump off if clogged or damaged.

Things to Keep in Mind


Some larger homes or buildings may require more than one pump or a sump pump system. If it seems as if one sump pump isn’t reliably keeping your basement dry, you can install a secondary pump for extra protection against flooding.

You should also make sure the sump is sitting on a pedestal, not directly on the bottom of the sump. The entire sump pump should be in a container with a tight lid. This is important not only for protecting the pump, but also for keeping children and pets safe from its components and water.

Finally, it’s important to check the float switch. In some models, it can get tangled in other parts of the pump or wedged against a wall. It needs to be free standing to work properly.

Consider a Home Standby Generator to Protect Your Basement

Even perfect sump pump maintenance is all for nothing without backup power to keep it running during a power outage. If this doesn’t sound good to you, consider investing in a home standby generator. Not only will your sump pump be protected—your entire home will be as well.