How to Test a Sump Pump

Last Updated on by Anthony Brown

Installing a sump pump in your basement is good – but you still need to test it on a regular basis. Skipping out on test and other maintenance is a good way to flood your basement when the pump fails!

We recommend testing you pump system at least once every 3 months – and more often if your basement receives a lot of ground water. Keep reading to learn the exact step by step process our team uses – as well as a few tips and tricks for testing and inspecting sealed pumps, pumps with one cord and pumps without a float switch.

How to Test Your Sump Pump - 7 Step Guide

There are a few ways to test a sump pump. Always start by checking your owners manual for pump specific tests! Let’s take a quick look at a few ways you can test your pump without having to call a plumber.

1. Turn it On and Off

The best way to test anything electric is to turn it off and on. Cycling the power will reset the motor and possibly the CPU if the pump has an onboard computer. 

After turning the power back on your pump should turn back on in a few seconds and start pumping water again. Remember, always properly turn off your pump or your risk a power surge frying the circuits!

2. Run the Pump

Next, test your pump by filling the pit with water and letting it run. For this part you will need a few buckets of water or a garden hose through the window.

Start filling the pump basin with a few gallons of water and letting the pump run. If everything is working correctly all the water should be gone in 5 to 10 minutes. Live in an area with a lot of ground water – we recommend running the test for twice as long!

3. Check the Drainage

Even the most powerful pump won’t keep your basement dry if the drainage pipes are clogged. Sump pump pits – and drainage lines – accumulate rocks, pebbles, dirt and other small debris that needs to be cleared from time to time.

After manually adding some water to your pump pit and verifying the pump is draining water go outside and check that water is coming out the drainage line. If nothing is coming out you may need to have your line professionally cleared!

4. Test the Alarm

An alarm does you no good if it does not work. Test your alarm each quarter by holding down the test button. If it is a WIFI alarm make sure it is still connected to the internet and sending alerts to your email or phone!

5. Test the Battery Backup

If your pump system is equipped with a back up battery – or you installed one yourself – it is important to test it is working and the battery is charged. Test that everything is working correctly by disconnecting from wall power source and adding a few buckets of water to your basin. If the pump kicks on your battery is working!

6. Remove Particles

Over time small pebbles and other particles of dirt will build up in your pump pit. These particles can cause serious damage if they get inside your pump and can clog your drain lines. Remove these by hand to prevent clogs and interior pump damage!

7. Check for Corrosion

Pumps with a plastic body can skip this step! Metal means corrosion and damage to the pump body. Always check for corrosion and rust on metal parts when cleaning your pump as it is a sign of future problem on the horizon!