DIY Sump Pump Testing, Step By Step

sump pump stepbystep

The sump pump is a necessary part of your home’s drainage system. Located at the lowest part of your home, where gravity will lead more excess moisture, your sump pump removes water that accumulates around your basement and crawl space. When snow melts or there’s a massive rainstorm causing water to flow through the soil around your foundation, your sump pump will kick into high gear, protecting your basement from water damage.

Like any other piece of equipment, your sump pump should be examined to make sure it is in working order. You definitely don’t want it to quit on you come springtime! Luckily, this task can definitely be done yourself.

Step One: Examine The Exterior Pipe

The first thing to do is examine the outlet pipe, out of which all the excess water is directed by the sump pump. Make sure that it is emptying far enough away from the foundation so that the water doesn’t just end up next to the foundation again. Examine the pipe and make sure there aren’t any cracks or blockages that could prevent the water from being drained out.

Step Two: Unplug the Sump Pump And Test The Electrical

The next step is to test the outlet and cord that gives your sump pump its juice. There should be two plugs: the float cord, and the plug cord connected into its back. Unplug these, and then plug in just the pump cord. The pump should kick in right away, and if it doesn’t, your pump needs to be repaired or replaced. If the pump worked properly, don’t forget to reconnect the plug for the float cord!

Step Three: Pour Water Into The “Crock”

The “crock” is the basin, made of metal or plastic and set into your concrete, that holds the sump pump. The groundwater seeping to this low point will activate the float or switch and turn on the sump pump before the water floods your basement. You’ll see it described as a “basin” or “sump pit” on some diagrams.

To test to see that the switch is working, uncover the crock and slowly pour some water from a bucket into it (a five-gallon bucket should do the trick). While doing this, observe the switch that activates the sump pump; it should turn on and start pumping this water from the crock. Keep watching until all the water is pumped out to ensure that the pump turns itself off, then do the process again, pouring the remaining water from your bucket into the crock and making sure the switch turns on again. If you encounter a failure, have a professional repair it, or have a new sump pump installed.


Step Four: Have A Backup

Annual testing of your sump pump is necessary, but there’s more you can do to make sure the pump works when you need it to. Backup power sources are available for sump pumps, and you should install one in case there are storm-related power outages. It could be a back-up generator to turn on, a battery back that kicks in when the outlet the sump pump is connected to is no longer working, or even a solar panel attached to your home’s exterior!