How to Deodorize a Smelly Sump Pump

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    Sump pumps can start to stink and smell if not properly maintained, cleaned and deodorized on a regular basis. Unfortunately, many people do not know how to take proper care of the sump pump and prevent sump pump smells.

    Every basin will have some smell since there is usually some standing water below the “On” level but that does not mean your pump needs to smell like rotten eggs or poop. Sump pump odors can stink up the entire basement and creep their way from your sump basin into the house if left unchecked. If your sump pump smells or the sewer line is leaking odors follows these tips to get things back to normal.

    In this guide we’ll teach you how deodorize a smelly sump pump:

    Here are the 6 best ways to deodorize a sump pump

    1. Keep the pit covered with an air-tight lid
    2. Clean and disinfect with bleach
    3. Keep a small amount of water covering the drain
    4. Clean with vinegar
    5. Clean the drain lines with sump pump odor tablets
    6. Remove standing water

    1. Use a Basin Cover

    The easiest way to prevent smells from seeping out of your sump pit is to use an airtight cover. Less airflow means less smells can creep up into your home. Airtight covers work best but if you cannot find one with a perfect fit try to get the seal as tight as possible.

    2. Disinfect with Bleach

    Cleaning your basin and sump pump with hot water and bleach is a good way to kill smell-causing bacteria and keep things sanitary. Water that enters your pit collects all kinds of chemicals and other debris while traveling through the ground and into your basement.

    Over time this collects on the inside of your pump and can start your closet quite a stink. We recommend cleaning your entire system with bleach at least once per year to kill any germs and bacteria that might be living inside. Use diluted bleach plus a sponge to scrub the basin and pump to kill any odor-causing bacteria.

    3. Keep Water Covering the Drain

    Most sump pump pits have at least some standing water on the bottom. Keeping enough water in the pit to cover the drain hole forces smells that are in the pipe to stay in the pipe. As long as you keep the water clean and it does not start to smell you should be able to prevent a lot of smells from entering your pump pit.

    When the pump is active the suction keeps the smell from creeping up into your home. This can also help with fixing a sewer smell in your basement.

    4. Clean with Vinegar

    It might sound surprising to hear someone recommend cleaning a sump pump pit with vinegar but it is surprisingly good at removing those super stinky smells like rotten eggs and poop. Start with a bucket of hot water and a sponge then mix in a good amount of vinegar. 

    Scrub the entire pit plus the exterior of the sump pump. Once you are done make sure to dry everything off to prevent rust and corrosion. If you need extra cleaning power mix in some liquid dish soap.


    If you are unfamiliar with using vinegar to clean we recommend using Heinz Cleaning Vinegar or something else similar.

    5. Clean the Drain Lines

    Drain lines are dark, damp places that make it easy for mold, mildew and other smells grow. Not to mention the lines are considerably harder to clean than the pump which means it likely only gets one once per year.

    You can clean the drain lines by blasting it with hot water from a hose. Add a few drops of bleach plus some soap and turn the hose on high for a few minutes.

    Sump Pump Odor Tablets

    Zebra XOCT25 Tablets

    Odor tablets like the Zebra Skimmers Sump Odor Control are an easy way to clean and deodorize your basin. All you have to do is drop in a tablet into your basin and the system will self-clean!

    6. Drain Stagnant Water

    Stagnant water sitting in your basin below the float switch activation level is a common cause of smells. Groundwater that has found its way into your pit and has not been drained carries in all kinds of odors to your basement. 

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Do sump pumps smell?

    All pumps have some smell but if they are properly cleaned it should not be noticeable.

    Why does my sump pump smell like poop?

    A poop or garbage smell from your sump pit means there is a build up in your pipes that needs to be cleaned.

    Why does my sump pump smell like rotten eggs?

    An unpleasant, rotten egg smell is usually because your pit has dried out and sulfur dioxide smells are coming up from the sewer. It can be eliminated with a small layer of water in the pit and cleaning the drain pipes.

    Why does my sump pump smell like gas?

    Your pump may smell like gas after a heavy rainstorm if the water level gets too low and smells from the sewer line seep into your basement.

    Why does my sump pump smell when it rains?

    Sump pumps run the most after big storms, if your basin only smells after it rains it means your pump has too much power and is over-draining the basin.

    Why does my sump pump smell like gasoline?

    If your sump pump smells like gasoline it is actually sewer gas seeping back into your sump pump basin and basement.

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