How to Unclog a Sump Pump

Veronica Murillo

Sump pumps usually clog under the pump at the impeller, which is a fan-like piece that vacuums water vertically up and out of the pipe. Simple removal of the obstruction should fix the problem. Sometimes the pump might be the problem and a new one might need to be purchased.

In either case, you fix the problem without outside assistance.

  1. Disconnect all power, which can be a plug next to the pump or pit. Power can also be coming from an electrical panel. In this case, follow the electrical line to the electrical control panel and disconnect. You must be sure that all power is off.

  2. Uncover the pit if it has a cover. If the pit is full of water, use a flood pumper to empty the pit.

  3. Unscrew and remove the clamp, if it has one, under the check valve. The check valve is part of the piping system above the pump. If the pipe between the check valve and the pump doesn’t have a clamp, cut the pipe with a hand saw under the check valve to remove the pump from the pit.

  4. Turn the pump upside down and check the impeller for obstruction.

  5. Remove the obstruction and turn the pump right side up. Be extra cautious to not touch any cables with wet hands.

  6. Turn on the power while the pump is outside of the pit. If the pump works, put everything back. If the pump doesn’t work, disconnect the power again and purchase a new pump.

  7. Tie the pipe back with the original clamp after it has been determined that the pump is working. If the pipe is cut, use a no-hub clamp according to the size of the pipe to tie the pipe back.

  8. Make sure the pit is clean and turn the power on.

  9. Fill the pit with water with a bucket or a hose to see if the floater triggers the pump. If the floater doesn’t trigger the pump, purchase a new pump.

  10. Tip

    it might be necessary to use a 5/16-nut driver to tighten the clamps.

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