How To Clean A Sump Pump Pit Properly | A Step-by-Step Guide

I’ve seen people buy a sump pump and later leave it at the mercy of nature for months right after installing it. That’s the quickest way to get your pump damaged. Once you buy it, you have to follow a few steps to maintain it. Otherwise, you have to empty your pockets again to buy another very soon. Among those steps, cleaning the sump pit is crucial.

Cleaning a sump pit is very easy if you follow certain steps one by one, which are:

  1. Preparing the cleaning area
  2. Managing light source
  3. Ensuring that the drainage pipes are unused
  4. Disconnecting the sump pump
  5. Removing the pump
  6. Washing it
  7. Cleaning the pit
  8. Checking the check valve
  9. Reinstalling the pump

You can clean the sump pit all by yourself once you know how to proceed. It might seem a bit challenging at first, but it gets manageable as you get things going. You might also be interested in knowing what tools you should use to clean the pit. Well, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. All your questions and confusions related to cleaning a sump pit will be answered in this article.

How to clean a sump pump pit?

If you have decided to clean the pit, do not just rush headfirst to the basement completely unprepared and open the lid. Take a whole day, arrange the materials you need, take safety precautions, know the cleaning procedure by heart, and then dig in. If you want to succeed in cleaning your sump pit, you should have a clear idea about how to proceed.

·  Preparing the cleaning area

As you do not visit your basement regularly, dust might have become a permanent resident. Therefore, do make sure that the place surrounding the sump pit is clean and not congested with unnecessary objects. It’ll help you work comfortably without any furniture or other junk getting in the way. The materials you should have alongside you are as follows-

  1. A big bucket
  2. A plastic scraper
  3. A sheet to protect the ground

·  Managing light source

Make sure there is enough light to see clearly. Otherwise, simple work will take hours to complete. If the bulb is dim, either change it with a higher watt or manage a flashlight. I don’t recommend using a torch because you’ll have to dedicate one hand to just holding the light. The best option is to opt for a miner’s hat if there is no basement light in your house.

·  Detaching the drainage pipes

Then, you have to turn off all the systems that drain out through the discharge pipes and make sure it remains unused until your task is completed. For example, if the washing machine is on, there will be another flood, and you will be left utterly puzzled on how to save the basement rather than cleaning the pit. After this, slowly unfasten the screws and disconnect the pipe. You can use bleach to disinfect the opening of the pipe if you find the presence of any mold or fungus.

·  Disconnecting the sump pump

Then, you have to disconnect the pump and switch off the breaker directly.

· Removing the pump

Most homeowners try to clean the pump without bringing it out of the basin to avoid reinstalling it and finish the task as early as possible. If you do not take it out, you won’t be able to see all its sides properly and the spread of debris all over the pit. Therefore, the best way to get the work done smoothly is to wrap the device with a plastic sheet to avoid any dripping of dirt and take it to a place where you have enough space to scrub it.

· Washing the pump

Use a flat screwdriver or a knife and a sponge to rub off any mold or smut. If still they do not come out, use a garden hose to blow off these stubborn build-ups. Then, leave it till it dries entirely.

· Cleaning the pit

Once you clean the pump, you can return to the vault and get ready with your wet vac or shop vac. If you want to use a bucket to pour out water or hands to pick out the debris, then it will take a long time. Therefore, it is better to use this machine to remove all the remaining from the bottom of the basin.

If you still find sludge glued to the ground, you can use your knife to scrape out those. Wear a mask as this sludge, which is supposed to be detergent or soap residue, releases a pungent smell.

· Inspect the check valve

The check valve is an essential component as it prevents the backflow of water into the basin. Ignoring it will disrupt the whole operating system. Therefore, if it can be disassembled, separate it from the pipe to pour out any water present inside it.

· Reinstalling the pump

The last step is to attach the pipes and reinstall the machine according to the pump’s manual. If you have separated the alarm and the battery backup, attach them again. To check if you have placed it properly and working, pour buckets of water to see if the pump gets activated.

Can I use vinegar or bleach to clean the pit?

As it stores still water for quite a long time, you might want to disinfect the pit with vinegar or bleach. Both are strong chemicals, so you have to be very careful to avoid adding excessive amounts. Both the chemicals can effectively sterilize it, but both have to be used in different quantities. If you want to use vinegar, add one part of it to two parts of water in a bucket. Pour it into the basin, allowing it to stand for fifteen minutes, and get ready with a shop vac.

Bleach is efficient in controlling sump pump odors but in a limited amount. Overdose can damage the plastic components and the pump. The appropriate amount to be used is one ounce of it for five gallons of water. Add this mixture into the pit and let it be still for some time. Later, you can use a wet vac to clean it.

Should There Be Water in The Sump Pump Pit?

If you visit the basin, you’ll probably find it full of water. You might wonder if it is alright to have water all the time. The answer is- YES. It is absolutely fine if there is a small amount of water during the rainy season, or it might be as a result of seepage. It should be 2-3″ level inside, anything more is a matter of concern. You can consider the drainage pipe being at fault if the level is too high during weather and the pump keeps turning on. This continuous operation reduces sump pumps lifespan. Therefore, an instant step should be the inspection of the drainage pipes.

Moreover, the device needs a check-up if it remains silent with a lot of water in it.

How often should you clean your sump pump pit?

The sump pit houses different types of contaminants such as dirt, debris, and stones, especially at the bottom. For this, you need to clean it regularly every 3 to 4 months. This will not only the entire system running smoothly but also get rid of any unpleasant smell. After installed a sump pump in your house you have to maintain the sump pump for long performance.

What can I use to clean my sump pump pit?

To properly clean the sump pit, you need to use the list of following items:

  • Bleach or vinegar
  • Hot water
  • Sponge or spray bottle
  • A pair of plastic gloves
  • Garbage bag
  • A Wet-Vac/ Shop Vac
  • Miner hat/ A flashlight


After buying a sump pump, it is your responsibility to maintain it and at least clean it every three to four months. Otherwise, you might have to replace the pump with a new one sooner than you would want. If you are not confident enough to do it yourself, take help from anyone who is an expert on sump pumps. If you want to take this task on by yourself, spare a whole day for this work, and you will be rewarded with a long-lasting, efficient pump and a clean basement.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Scroll to Top