How to Tell if Your Sump Pump is Working

Not sure if your sump pump is working? Don’t worry! It is super easy to check to make sure that the pump is working. There are two fool-proof ways to tell if it is working. Read on to figure out which method works best for you!

Lift the float

In my opinion, this is the easiest method, but it can be a little intimidating if you know nothing about plumbing.

The float is the sump pumps on switch. It quite literally floats and when the water level gets high enough it tells the pump to kick on. It is usually very easy to identify the float. The float is attached to the side of the sump pump. (Below are two examples of sump pump floats.) To turn the sump pump on, simply push the float as high up as you can. If you see the sump pump kick on, great you know it’s working! If the sump pump does not kick on skip ahead to the troubleshooting section. If you are not sure where your float is, there is no need to waste any time! Simply try dumping water into the pit, directions below.

Dump water in the pit

Dumping water into your sump pump’s pit is a full proof way to make sure your sump pump works. If you have no plumbing knowledge, identifying the sump pump’s float can be a little tricky. Start by getting a 5 gallon bucket, trash can, cooler, or even 5 gallon jugs. Then dump the water into the pit. If the pump kicks on, it works! If the pump does not kick on, you will need to do a little trouble shooting.

Trouble Shooting

When it comes to sump pumps, there is not much to them. This makes troubleshooting very easy. Basically, if it has power and it’s not working it needs to be replaced. It’s not easy!

Unplug it and plug it back in

When it comes to making sure that an electronic is working, this is the gold standard! This step is very self-explanatory, just unplug it and plug it back in.

Make sure the outlet has power

By code, sump pumps must be connected to a GFCI outlet. A GFCI outlet contains it’s own switch and if there is any sort of fault the outlet will turn off. Most GFCI outlets have a green light on them letting you know that they are on. If your sump pump’s outlet does not have a green light on it, you may need to plug something else in to make sure it has power. If your outlet does not have power, press the reset switch and double check the breaker. If that does not work, you will need to contact an electrician.

Replace the pump

The average life expectancy of a sump pump is 10 years. However, depending on the brand and amount of use your sump pump may last between 5 and 15 years. Sump pumps do not last forever: if your outlet has power and your sump pump is not working, it probably needs to be replaced. Almost all sump pumps can be repaired, but it is usually quicker and less expensive to replace the pump. On top of that, you have a brand new pump when you’re done!

I hope this guide was helpful. If you have any more questions about sump pumps check out our other guides, like this quick buyer’s guide. We also have a more comprehensive guide.

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1 comment on “How to Tell if Your Sump Pump is Working

That’s a good idea to try lifting the float. I could see how that would be a good way to make sure that the pump will kick into action as soon as the water reaches a certain level. I’ll have to check that on mine to see if I need to repair or replace my pump, or if it’s working just fine.

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