How to Clean a Sump Pit

Basements in many homes, especially those in flood-prone and high water table areas, will have a sump pit installed to hold and remove rainwater or ground water that has leaked into the basement. At times, these pits will accumulate debris and dirt that should be removed from the pit. Otherwise, a buildup of this dirt and debris can not only create unpleasant odors and mold, but can also affect the efficiency of the pump that removes excessive water. These pits need to be cleaned at times to remove this dirt buildup. Here's how you can clean your sump pit.

Things you'll need:

  • Screwdriver
  • Gloves
  • Hose
  • Bucket
  • Plastic sheeting or old blanket (if needed)
  • Wet/dry shop vac

Step 1 – Remove Your Sump Pump

To clean your sump pit, you'll need to first remove the sump motor from the pit. First, disconnect the electrical power from your pump. Turn off electrical power to the outlet in which you pump is connected. The best way to do this is to shut off the switch at your power breaker box. Find the switch that controls power to the outlet, and turn the switch to the "off" position. Next, locate the discharge pipe in your sump pit and disconnect from this pipe the discharge pipe coming from the pump. The pump will likely have sludge or other moist or greasy dirt caked on it, so use gloves to remove it. Place the pump in a bucket or on a plastic sheet or an old towel. Keep the pump in a place where you can rinse it off. Use your garden hose to rinse off any sludge or dirt from the pump. If necessary, use a putty knife to scrape off caked-on dirt.

Step 2 – Remove Water from the Pit and from the Check Valve.

Use an old plastic container or a shop wet/dry vacuum to remove all water in the pit. Locate the check valve, open it, and drain from it any residual water. Then, wash the valve. If necessary, remove this valve before washing it.

Step 3 – Clean the Pump Base

Remove the boards, concrete blocks, or bricks that the pump has been resting on. Clean these by rinsing them off and using your putty knife to scrape off any caked dirt or sludge. Clean the side and bottom surfaces of the pit by removing any caked or loose dirt or debris, then flushing the sides and bottom of the pit with water. Remove the water used to clean the pit. Then, when the pit and its base are clean, return the base to its position at the bottom of the pit.

Step 4 – Replace and Reinstall the Pump

Replace the pump in the pit. Check the discharge pipe float to be sure it is moving as it should. If you find it hanging up, clean all dirt and debris from it, then replace it and the discharge pipe. Finally, when everything is in place, restore power, and test your pump.