Testing your Sump Pump

Many of the houses I inspect have sump pumps. These pumps are meant to carry water away from underneath your house in the event of a flood or if the house was built in a location that didn’t have adequate drainage. A sump pump also removes collected condensation created by your air conditioner and water from areaway drains, preventing moisture from collecting around the foundation of your home or in the floor of your basement. If this pump fails, you may end up with standing water under your house and nobody wants that. Standing water left under a house can lead to moisture intrusion all the way up to your attic. During home inspections I’ve seen houses where this moisture intrusion has caused mold issues and rotting of structural members. Test your sump pump periodically to ensure it is working correctly to protect your home against water damage. Here’s how.

1        Find the outside pipe that catches the water as it drains from the pump. Examine the inside the pipe to ensure no dirt or debris is clogging the drain. Remove any debris.

2        Locate the sump pump in your basement or mechanical room. Trace the two electrical cords from the sump pump to the electrical outlet. The pump cord plugs into the back of the float cord plug. Pull the plugs from the outlet, pull the plugs apart, and plug the pump cord only back into the outlet. You should hear the pump running. Unplug the pump and plug the cords back in the wall with the float first, and the pump cord plugged into the back of the float pump.

3        Remove the lid from the sump crock. Slowly pour some water from a 5-gallon bucket into the crock. Observe the sump pump switch. It should turn on and begin to pump water from the crock. Wait until the water pumps from the crock to ensure the pump turns itself off, then slowly pour the remaining water in the crock to ensure the pump turns on again.

4        Replace the sump pump if it fails either test.