How to test your sump pump

When it comes to safeguarding your home from potential flooding, especially in areas prone to heavy rainfall or with basements, a sump pump is your first line of defense. But like all equipment, it’s essential to ensure it’s in working order before you actually need it. For Brooklyn residents, with our unique mix of weather and urban challenges, a functioning sump pump can be a real lifesaver. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to test your sump pump to ensure it’s up to the task.

Flooded Brooklyn Basement caused by a failing sump pump - AI rendering.

Safety First

Before you begin, ensure you’re taking necessary safety precautions:

  • Disconnect any extension cords.
  • Make sure the outlet the pump is connected to is a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) to prevent electric shocks.


Check the Outlet and Cord

Inspect the outlet and the pump’s cord for any signs of wear or damage. If everything looks good, ensure the sump pump is plugged in.


Examine the Basin/Pit

Before testing, take a moment to inspect the sump pit for any visible debris that might interfere with the pump’s operation. Remove any obstructions you find.


The Water Test

  • Fill a bucket with water.
  • Slowly pour the water into the sump pit. Watch the float rise.
  • As the float rises, the sump pump should activate and begin to pump out the water. Once the water level drops, the pump should turn off automatically.
  • If the pump doesn’t activate, it might be time for repairs or a replacement.


Check the Drainage

Ensure that the water being pumped out is being directed away from your home’s foundation. It’s crucial, especially in urban areas like Brooklyn, where space can be limited, and you don’t want to inadvertently flood a neighbor’s property.


Test the Backup Power

If your sump pump has a battery backup, unplug the pump and repeat the water test. The pump should operate on its backup power. If it doesn’t, it might be time to replace the battery.


Clean and Maintain

After testing, clean the sump pit and ensure there’s no debris that might clog the pump. Regular maintenance, including checking for rust, ensuring the float isn’t restricted, and listening for unusual noises, can extend the life of your sump pump.


Consider a Professional Inspection

If you’re unsure about your sump pump’s performance or if it’s been a while since it was last serviced, consider getting a professional inspection. Local experts, especially those familiar with Brooklyn’s specific challenges, can provide valuable insights and recommendations.



A sump pump is an invaluable tool in flood prevention, but only if it’s working correctly. Regular testing, especially before seasons of heavy rainfall, can give you peace of mind. And remember, when in doubt, Brooklyn has a community of plumbing professionals ready to assist!

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