How To Fix A Clogged Sump Pump

A sump pump clog occurs due to various reasons such as debris in the sump pit, clogged mechanical parts, jammed float switches, and switches stuck in one position. It fails the sump pump eventually, causing the basement to flood. So, it is important to clean the sump pump regularly before you face the inconvenience of having to clean a clogged pump. Let’s identify the issues related to this and how to unclog the sump pump.

sump pump clogged

What Causes Clogged Sump Pump Failure?

Sump pumps fail as a result of debris accumulated inside due to which they cannot pump out the water as needed The following are the most common causes of clogs in sump pumps.

Clogged Drain Systems

A sump pump may fail as mud seep into the drain system over time and clog it. This usually happens when drains are installed in the “mud zone” under the basement floor. 

Frozen Discharge Lines

Another possible reason for the sump pump’s inability to pump out water is a frozen discharge line. Check the discharge line outside the house to detect any issues or clogging at the exit.

Float Switch Failure

The float switch is the main component that detects the rise in water level and turns on the sump pump. So, if there is any debris hindering the motion of the float, it will be stuck in either the on or off position. This causes the pump to run continuously without stopping or never start at all.

Iron Ochre Clogs the System

Iron ochre is a gelatinous ooze similar to rust caused by iron bacteria. It oxidizes ferrous iron and manganese to survive. This causes a bad odor and stains everything that comes into contact. It also clogs the drainage system leading to basement floods.

How Do You Clear a Sump Pump Blockage?

Sometimes the sump pump failure is due to sentiment building up inside the discharge lines. You can solve the issue simply by following the steps indicated here. For this, you need a few common tools at home including a plastic bag, flashlight, screwdriver, and a new screen if you need to replace the existing part.

  1. Remove the Sump Pump

Start by turning off the sump pump and detaching it from the electrical connection. Then disconnect it from the discharge lines and remove it from the sump basin. Keep the sump pump in a suitable container or bag to collect any water on the pump.

  1. Remove Clogs From the Drain

Check the entry and exit points of the discharge line for any clogging. At times, the blockage could even be caused by a visible object such as a ball, pebbles, or even loose soil. Regular maintenance can keep the drainage lines clear from any such obstructions. 

  1. Remove Sediments

You then need to check and remove any sediment inside the discharge pipe. You can remove the debris by hand if the blockage is near the front of the pipes. If there is any smelly sediment buildup deep inside it, you can use a dry/ wet vacuum to remove it. 

  1. Test the Drainage Lines

Once you clear out everything, you can test whether the drain lines conduct water properly. Get some water into a bucket and fill up the sump pit and check whether the water comes out at the other end of the discharge line. If the water pools and doesn’t seem to drain, then there should still be a partial blockage remaining. So, you will have to go through the checking process again to remove any clogs.

  1. Reconnect the Pump

Once everything is clear, you can reattach the sump pump to the discharge line. Connect it to the power supply and run a quick test to check whether the sump pump removes water. If the sump pump works fine, the drain lines are free from clogs and are reattached correctly.

Frequently Asked Questions

How to Keep Submersible Sump Pump From Clogging?

The best way to prevent clogging in a sump pump is to keep it clean. You can clean the pump screen or the inlet opening once every 3 – 4 months. You should also remove the sump pump and clean the sump pump along with the pit once every year. You can use some vinegar as an effective sump pump cleaner since it breaks down even the toughest grime and grease.

How Do You Get Mud Out of a Sump Pump?

Rinse off any dirt or sludge on the surface of the pump using a garden hose. Then clean the sump pump using a plastic scraper or putty knife to remove caked-on debris. Leave the sump pump in a safe place to dry. Use a vacuum to remove any standing water from your sump pit.

How Much Does It Cost to Unclog a Sump Pump?

The cost to repair a clogged sump pump depends on the complexity of the system. The cost of labor charged by a plumber would usually be around $45 – $65 per hour. The charge may increase if there are any repairs or modifications necessary for the sump pump system. The average sump pump repair cost would be from $118 – $1,300 at the high end.

Why is My Sump Pump Running Non-stop?

It is a sign of a problem if your sump pump runs continuously or too often despite the weather conditions. This can be caused due to a switch stuck due to clogging or the sump pump liner being too big/ small. A broken check valve causing the discharged water to flow backward can be another possible reason. Although it is a rare case, sometimes an unexpected increase of groundwater in the area caused by a pipe burst or similar situation can also cause the pump to run continuously.

Can You Manually Drain a Sump Pump?

The easiest way to manually drain a sump pump is using a hand pump. You can put a hand pump into the sump pump hole and connect a garden hose to the threaded end of the hand pump. Run the hose outside to discharge the drained water to a suitable spot.


A sump pump clogged with sediment will not pump out the water as necessary, resulting in a flooded basement. It is also a common reason for the sump pump leaking water. Sump pump clogs can even get worsen causing the motor to overwork and burn out eventually. Make sure to clean any sump pump clog from the system to keep it running smoothly.

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