How to Clean Dirt and Debris from the Interior of Your Sump Pump System

Around 60% of homes in the Unites States have a wet basement. This means that you are among the majority if water seeps through your foundation. Waterproofing techniques are often utilized to reduce the amount of moisture that can get into the home, but water that does find its way into the space will need to be forced out. This is likely why you have a sump pump in your basement. Sump pumps are often overlooked until they stop working and allow the home to flood. This can cause a great deal of damage. Instead of allowing a flood incident to occur, make sure to maintain your sump pump by cleaning it every few months. Keep reading to learn how dirt and debris can affect your pump and how a cleaning can be performed.

Dirt and Your Sump Pump

Water will work its way into your basement after a rainfall or when the snow melts. Some water may also come from the rising water table outside your home. As the water seeps through the earth and finds a crack in your foundation, it carries fine dirt particles with it. This dirt is called silt and it is made up of particles that are smaller than sand. Specifically, the silt particles are between 0.0039 and 0.0625 millimeters wide. This soil moves into the sump pit with the water. Some silt is moved out through the discharge pipe of the drainage system, but some will sink to the bottom of the sump pit and remain there.

Some of the soil particles can clog the grate or vent that sits on the bottom of the submersible pump. Water is typically pulled up through this grate, and some debris may clog the grate openings in the process. This will prevent water from moving into the sump pump. Debris can also sit on the impeller part of the system. The impeller turns as the pump is activated, and this forces water up through the discharge hose. When debris accumulates on this part, water may not be forced up and out of the home with as much power. Water may then fall back into the sump pit. Debris may also cause the float to stick in place. The float is a small ball that sits on top of the water in the sump pit. As the water level increases, the float raises and activates the pump. If the float sticks, then the sump pump will not turn on when it is supposed to.

All of these failure issues can cause a flooded basement. This means that debris should be flushed from the sump pump system to keep issues from happening.

Cleaning the Sump Pump

One of the easiest ways to clean the debris out of your sump pump is to use a mild acid like vinegar to force the debris to loosen and release out the discharge pipe. It may take a few minutes for the vinegar to break up debris and dirt, so unplug the pump to allow the vinegar to sit for a period of time. Dump one gallon of vinegar into your sump pit after you unplug the pump. An open pit will allow you to do this quite easily. However, if you see a cover, you will need to remove the screws from it and remove it before you can proceed. 

Once the vinegar is placed in the pit, allow it to sit for about 30 minutes. While you wait, fill a 5 gallon bucket with hot water. Plug your sump pump back in and slowly pour the warm water into the pit. This will help to flush the debris out of the system. If you have an open outlet pipe that leads to a French drain or a far-reaching area of your property, then examine the end of the pipe to look for signs of debris. If you see expelled debris, then this will be a sign that you have successfully flushed dirt out of the system.

If you need further help with cleaning out your sump pump, contact a plumber in your area.

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