When is the last time you performed sump pump maintenance?

No one wants to come home after heavy rains or an unexpected storm to find their basement floor completely covered with standing water. Now, not only is the room itself destroyed, but your personal and sentimental belongings may be at risk of being ruined.

Basement flooding is a primary concern for many homeowners, and several pre-emptive defense tactics can be deployed to avoid this huge headache in your own home, including:

  • Repairing foundational cracks
  • Installing window well covers
  • Investing in a seamless gutter system
  • Clearing out downspouts

If water is still penetrating your house and making it difficult to keep the basement dry despite your greatest efforts, your last line of defense is a sump pump. Since sump pumps and battery backups could be the only thing left to save your basement from surefire water damage, it’s crucial to put in the work to maintain them properly all year long.

sump pump maintenance flooded home basement laundry room with white appliances and hamper floating in water

What Is the Purpose of a Sump Pump?

Experiencing basement flooding is every homeowner’s worst nightmare, but that’s where a sump pump can help. Sump pumps have a check valve that acts as a sensor, reacting when pressure or water levels start to escalate.

When groundwater gets high enough within the “sump pit” or subterranean basin in your basement, a sump pump (if equipped with a functioning check valve) should automatically start pumping out any excess water. A discharge pipe will safely move the water away from the basement area and your property, saving you from the nightmare (and expense) of basement flooding.

Check out this informative guide for help finding the right sump pump system for your home.

sump pump maintenance photo of minor basement flooding spot near door and cement walls

How Often Must Sump Pumps Be Maintained? 🛠

Not every sump pump is the same, so there is no straight answer to this question. A high-quality model might require less maintenance than an outdated or water-powered pump to keep your property dry. You might also have a model that needs monthly cleaning or a backup power source, which will involve unique maintenance requirements as well.

In general, most sump pumps should be serviced once a year at the very least, along with an annual professional inspection of the system itself. However, to guarantee your sump pump is functioning properly at the highest capacity, it’s wise to complete monthly cleaning and quarterly assessments as well.

sump pump maintenance aerial view of backup sump pump opening

Comprehensive Sump Pump Maintenance Checklist

You won’t really be able to spot a defective sump pump until it’s too late, so it’s essential to stay on top of maintenance throughout the year to ensure your pump still functions effectively. Try out some of these top maintenance tips for sump pumps and save yourself from the stress of zero function down the line.

Let’s dive into a comprehensive checklist of monthly, quarterly, and annual sump pump maintenance:

Monthly Maintenance

Some sump pumps will require monthly cleaning, especially if they’re responsible for the disposal of your washing machine water. If that’s the case in your home, you’ll need to clear out the inlet screen each month.

To clean the pump screen, remove your submersible pump from where the sump pump sits within the sump pit in order to gain access to the grate on the bottom. This is the part of the sump pump where you’ll want to focus on cleaning.

Your sump pump might suck small stones or other debris into the grate, so give it a thorough cleaning to ensure nothing is left behind to block the pump inlet screen. Extensive blockages in your sump pump inlet screen can eventually cause even further damage to the sump pump itself.


sump pump maintenance view of repairman fixing broken backup sump pump in basement

Quarterly Cleaning

Even if your sump pump isn’t the kind that needs monthly cleaning, it’s still crucial to keep up with quarterly maintenance. You want your sump pump to be working properly no matter what, so prioritizing quarterly check-ins and deep cleans can keep things running smoothly year-round. Four times a year, or with each changing season, you should:

  • Unplug the pump from its power supply and empty any standing water in the sump basin.
  • Dislodge any debris in the sump basin and ensure the sump pump inlet screen is clear and completely unobstructed.
  • Reconnect the sump pump to the power source and pour water inside to verify that your float switch is still turning the pump on and off properly.
  • Ensure your sump pump connects to a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet, otherwise known as a ground fault circuit breaker or GFCI breaker.
  • Check that the cord to your sump pump is in good working condition— so the breaker doesn’t trip down the line.
  • Confirm that all outlet drainage pipes are still working correctly. Your discharge pipe should dispose of water at least 20 feet from your home.
  • Contact your plumber if the float switch of your sump pump works incorrectly or if you notice any damaged pipes.

Annual Upkeep

Keeping up with monthly or even quarterly sump pump maintenance can be challenging, so at the very least, ensure that your sump pit and pump are serviced once a year. Essentially, you’ll have to perform maintenance just as we described quarterly responsibilities above. However, you will also want to survey the health of your sump pump’s battery backup at this time.

Aside from small, water-powered backup pumps, most sump pumps primarily run off an electrical power source, so they’re vulnerable to power outages. This puts you at risk of flooding if a storm plows through and knocks out your power.

So, what does checking on the sump pump battery backup entail? We promise it’s easy. Look to see if your main power supply is charging the battery, confirm it is actually charged, or change the battery if necessary.

You can also go the extra mile and buy a backup power source or install a secondary sump pump. Now, you’ll know your home’s protected even without any power.

The Best Way to Service Your Sump Pump

Is your home in need of sump pump repairs or a whole new sump pump system? Even after completing the monthly, quarterly, and annual maintenance tips discussed above, there’s always a chance you’ve simply reached the end of your sump pump’s lifespan.

When the time comes to replace your sump pump, you’ll want to partner with an experienced plumbing company that can ensure everything is working at full capacity without costing you an arm and a leg. Put your trust in the skilled team at AJ Alberts, and rest assured that your sump pump is in good hands.

Contact us today to get help with sump pumps, residential plumbing systems, and any other essential home plumbing services you might need.