How to Fix a Clogged Sump Pump

A clogged sump can lead to unexpected basement flooding and other mechanical problems if not prevented with seasonal maintenance and regular drain line checks. In this article we will show you how to fix a clogged sump pump as well as a few tips and tricks to keep sentiment from building up in your drain lines.

One of the most common causes of pump failure is sentiment build up and clogging your the drain line forcing water to pool in the pit. As the discharge lines get more and more clogged the blockage will continue to get worse until the line can no longer drain. To make matters worse a sump pump clog can also cause the pump motor to overwork and eventually burn out.

How to Unclog a Sump Pump

Follow these step by step instructions to unclog sump pumps in a few steps without having to call a professional.

1. Remove The Sump Pump

Get started unclogging your sump pump by detaching your sump pump from the discharge lines and electrical connection then removing it from the sump basin. Set the pump somewhere out of way, we recommend placing it in a trash bag to collect any water on the pump.

2. Remove Clogs from Drain Entry and Exit

Next, check the entry and exit of the discharge lines. Sometimes the blockage is caused by large objects like pebbles or tennis ball preventing water from entering or exiting the lines out of the pit. These types of clogs can be prevented with regular maintenance but keep in mind some homes with loose soil will get more blockages than others.

3. Remove Sediment from Lines

Another more difficult to remove type of blockage is sediment inside the discharge pipe. If the blockage is near the front of the pipes you may be able to remove it by hand. When sand, dirt and other smell sentiment builds up deep in the lines you may need to use a wet/dry shop vac or call a professional plumber.

Preventing Sediment Blocks

We recommend trying to prevent these blockages before they appear with regular maintenance plus the right size pump filter.

4. Test Lines

After removing the clog fill a large bucket with water from the sink and see if the lines drain by filling up the sump pit and checking if water comes out the other end. If the water is still pooling or not draining as quickly as it should be you still may have a partial blockage. Testing to make sure everything is working properly and the pump works is key to preventing water damage.

5. Reattach Pump

Finally, reattach the sump pump to the discharge lines, the alarm and power source. Preform another test to make sure the pump works and the drain lines have been reattached correctly. The float switch should rise when the pit is filled with water and activate the pump. Also make sure to test the check valve. If the unit does not turn on or start draining when the water level rises you have a problem!

Recommended Tools

Most clogs can be fixed with the tools you have at home. In some cases you may need to rent a ShopVac if you do not have one in the basement.


  • Trash bag for the wet sump pump
  • A flashlight to check the discharge line
  • Screwdriver to remove clogs
  • Bucket of water for testing
  • New screen if current one is not effective

Frequently Asked Questions

Can a sump pump get clogged?

Yes, sump pumps can become clogged overtime due to the build up of particles and other debris in the basin and drain lines.

Can you use Drano in a sump pump?

Drano can be used in a sump pump but be sure to check that the drain lines can handle chemical cleaners.

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