My Favorite Sump Pump Tip from a Plumber

Lots of folks are waking up today learning in the worst way that their sump pump failed.

I was afraid I was going to be in that group, which is why I was up late last night babysitting it!

Paranoid? Yeah…maybe, but in my defense, we just moved into this house, and I haven’t really figured out how much rain it takes to make the sump pump turn on, or how often it kicks in during storms. In other words, my sump pump and I are still getting to know each other.

As I was watching my sump pit take on water more and more quickly, I wondered…how high does this thing need to get? How long am I going to sit here to find out?! I wish there was a way to test it without having to remove the lid which is sealed for radon mitigation.

Since I was just sitting in my empty basement with nothing but time and anxiety on my hands, I figured I’d reach out to Steve Suarez, the owner and proprietor of RJ Graham Plumbing. I didn’t specifically ask for his help, I just told him what I was up to, asked if they were busy…general small talk (I think he knew my ulterior motive!).

I showed him a picture of my pit, and he said I should probably get my old pump replaced because it uses what’s called a “tether float switch” which is a float affixed to a rod that angles out, as opposed to a ball-and-rod, which has a float ball that rides up and down a vertical rod. The point is that my current pump needs a higher water level to activate than the ball-and-rod pumps. He told me though, there was INDEED a way to activate the pump without having to remove the lid…JUST THE TIP I WAS LOOKING FOR!!!

It has to do with the fact there are two electrical plugs for the pump. Here’s how it works.

Now, keep in mind if you plug in the pump directly to the outlet, bypassing the switch, there is no automatic shut off. You must remove the plug from the outlet before the water gets below the pump intake. Also, this won’t indicate to you if you have a faulty switch! The only thing this really does is assure you the pump function works, and you can remove water from the pit in an emergency. If you are doing this because you KNOW your switch is faulty, call Steve! He’ll take care of it for you!

Thanks to Steve and RJ Graham…he gives advice just like this on his Facebook page, so go check it out. Hopefully you can take care of issues yourself before calling a pro. If you do need a professional though, you should definitely call RJ Graham first!