A sump pump is a device that helps to keep your basement and crawl space dry to avoid flooding. That means it potentially saves you a few thousand dollars of water damage.

That’s because when rain or even a storm happens, your sump pump will turn on and remove any excess water that might find its way to the foundations of your property.

It isn’t surprising that a lot of people don’t actually know if their sump pump is working properly, but fortunately, there are ways to test it. 

Also, anyone can do this, meaning you won’t need any specialized plumbing skills to test whether your sump pump is doing its job correctly. In this article, we shall look at how you can test your own pump. 

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at how to tell if a sump pump is working.

What is a Sump Pump Used For?

A sump pump is used in many homes to prevent flooding of a basement or crawl space. Excess water from heavy downpours or wet soil can find its way into your home, and a sump pump stops this from happening by taking in the water and removing it out.

If you find that your sump pump isn’t working properly, then you risk expensive water damage into your home, but also mildew and mold will damage your property. If this is the case, contact a plumber for sump pump repairs.

So, if you want to test if your sump pump is working properly, then read on.

A Quick Way to Test If Your Sump Pump is Working

Even though it’s a satisfying sound to hear the low rumble and clang of a sump pump kicking into gear, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is working effectively. One way to find out if it is, is by following the step-by-step guide below.

Step 1: Locate the Exit Pipe

Firstly, if you are worried about the exit pipe not removing the water efficiently, then you will need to see if it is clogged up with debris.

To do this, locate where it is. Once found, have a look down the pipe and see if you can find any dirt that may be holding up water and not allowing it to be removed away from the house.

You should also make sure that this pipe is slanted downwards and away from the house. If it is clear, then there is no issue.

If there is debris, then remove it right away. 

Step 2: Listen For the Humming Sound in a Two Corded Sump Pump

Another way to test the sump pump is to locate the two electrical cords which are attached to the sump pump. You should be able to trace them to the back of the front cord plug. 

Both of the cables need to be unplugged, with only the sump pump cord plugged into the outlet. When you turn the sump pump on, you should hear a humming sound.

This sound means it is working – hooray. Connect both the cords back to the float plug by putting in the float cord, and then the pump cord.

Step 3: Single-Corded Sump Pump Test

You might find that your sump pump doesn’t have two cords. Fortunately, that doesn’t mean you cannot test it, there are ways!

Firstly, you need to pour up to 20 liters of water into the pump pit, but do this slowly. It may take quite a bit of time to do, but it is worth it.

To know when to stop, the float should have risen and the pump should have kicked into gear. During this time, the water should be pumping out, and then the pump will turn off once all the water has been removed. 

Repeat the step one more time to fully make sure that the sump pump is working properly. If it does the exact same thing, then it is indeed, working as it should. 

What to Do if it Isn’t Working Properly

How to Tell If a Sump Pump is Working

If you find that your sump pump isn’t working properly and you have already checked for blockages, then the next thing you should do is see if there is a local power outage – just to make sure.

If there isn’t a power outage to the local area (you can try other electrical items in the home), then the next step is to check the circuits and fuses. Also, make sure that the sump pump is connected to the correct outlet.

Other things to try are checking for leaks within the discharge pipe. This is an option if you have found that water has become backed up in the basement, causing you to think that your sump pump isn’t working properly.

Also, look for any clogs within the sump pit itself. It’s surprising what gets stuck in there! From household items like toys, to just a lot of dirt or even drain flies in the sump pump!

If your sump pump has a weep hole, then this will be worth checking out. If it has become clogged, then you will need to dislodge it. If you want to locate the weep hole, look between the pump and the check valve.

To clear it you will need to use an object that is narrow. Something like a toothpick will do, but make sure it doesn’t break into the hole.

If you don’t have a backup battery, or it doesn’t seem to be working anyway, then you may have to call in a professional right away to sort out the problem. This is because if heavy rain does happen, you will need a working sump pump to avoid flooding.

Final Thoughts

If you think that your sump pump isn’t working, then there are ways to test it without having any plumbing expertise. Even if you don’t think that your sump pump is working properly, then it is always a good idea to test your sump pump.


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In this article, we have discussed ways you can make sure the sump pump is working correctly. Hopefully you have found it useful! If you are unfamiliar with this stuff, contact a local plumber near you to avoid further issues.