How to Clean a Sump Pump With Vinegar
Sump pumps perform an essential job in protecting homes from flooding. The devices sit at the center of a home’s foundation, automatically removing water when it begins to collect.
But for all the work they do, they often go overlooked during home cleaning. Not many homeowners even realize that sump pumps need regular cleaning. After all, the device is cycling through water all day — why would it need to be cleaned separately?
It’s precisely because these devices process so much water that they require routine cleaning. Luckily, there’s a natural, environmental solution for cleaning them with vinegar.
Follow these tips from AllDry USA and learn how to clean your sump pump with vinegar and how often you should.
Is Vinegar an Effective Cleaning Agent?
Cleaning sump pumps is essential because it prevents the risk of mold. Mold can sprout up quickly in damp areas that trap moisture. When you clean the inside of your sump pump, you’re making sure that no pools of stagnant water collect and increase the risk of mold growth.
If you’ve ever made a DIY cleaning solution at home rather than purchasing a store brand made from harsh chemicals, you’ve probably used vinegar.
Vinegar is a powerful acidic substance. Its enzymes help break down the toughest grime, dirt, and grease. It’s not only an effective cleaning solution for floors, tiles, and bathtubs but also a fantastic sump pump cleaner.
How to Clean Your Sump Pump Using Vinegar
There are two methods for cleaning a sump pump using vinegar. One method is less work, but it’s also less effective. Below, we explain the steps to take for the most effective and efficient clean. The better you clean it, the less often you’ll need to repeat this process.
For this process, you’ll need:
- 1 ½ gallons of vinegar
- 1 bucket
- 5 gallons of hot water
1. Remove Your Sump Pump from the Pit
First, unplug the sump pump to make sure water doesn’t back up into your basement.
After you’ve safely shut off the water, remove your sump pump from the pit.
2. Soak with Vinegar-Water Solution
Next, in a bucket, mix your cleaning solution using 1 gallon of vinegar and 2 gallons of hot water.
Pour the vinegar solution into the sump pump. Let it soak for 15-20 minutes to give it enough time for the debris to loosen.
3. Rinse with Hot Water
Once the 15 minutes are up, rinse the pump using hot water. The temperature will help break up any stubborn, remaining grime.
4. Clean the Drainage Pipe
You can do this after or while the pump is soaking. Pour the remaining ½ gallon of vinegar solution into the opening of the drainage pipe. You don’t need to dilute this solution because water constantly flows through the pipe, so the vinegar won’t remain long enough to do any damage.
Let the vinegar soak for some time. Then pour the remaining hot water into the drainage to rinse away the solution.
5. Put the Sump Pump Back and Turn It On
Reconnect the discharge pipe, plug in the alarm and battery, and turn on your sump pump once more. It may not immediately start running a cycle. If it does, disregard step six.
6. Run a Cycle With Clean Water (Optional)
Now that your sump pump is clean, run a few cycles to make sure you’ve flushed all the vinegar. Once you do this, you’re good to go.
Sump Pump Maintenance Tips
Besides cleaning, you’ll want to keep up with routine maintenance to keep the sump pump in tip-top shape. Follow these tips below to maximize the efficiency of your appliance.
Keep to a Regular Cycle
How often you need to clean your sump pump is dependent on many factors—its size, the size of the house, and the climate.
But one thing is the same for all sump pumps—sticking to a regular cleaning cycle is crucial. A regular schedule will ensure that you don’t forget to clean the appliance.
Check the Drain Pipes
Your drain pipes are crucial components of your sump pump. It’s best to check these pipes routinely during cleaning to ensure there is no blockage.
Test the Alarm
Sump pump alarms go off when the water level is too high. They’re your first line of defense against structural damage.
For this reason, you want to make sure the batteries have not expired and the alarm is working as it should.
How Often Should I Clean My Sump Pump?
The recommended timetable to clean your sump pump is once every three to four months. Every three months is best because it means your appliance will be ready for each season.
With seasonal changes come fluctuations in water levels. Your sump pump will go through cycles of heavy and light use. Make sure it’s well taken care of throughout for the best efficiency.
Will Bleach Damage My Sump Pump?
No, bleach will not damage your appliance. It’s fine to use bleach instead of vinegar as a cleaning solution.
Make sure you measure one cup of bleach to every gallon of water. Like vinegar, bleach is a powerful solution that can be damaging if not properly diluted.
How Long Does a Sump Pump Last?
You can measure the life of your average sump pump in two ways: in years or on/off cycles.
The average sump pump should last between 3 and 5 years. If you aren’t using it as often, sump pumps can last up to 250,000 cycles.
Do I Need to Check My Check Valve?
Many local and state health boards recommend regularly checking your check valve. The check valve regulates the water level, using gravity to allow water in and keep it from overflowing.
Make sure there is a 3/16 relief hole between the check valve and the pump. It will prevent vapor locks and improve the longevity of the appliance.
Keeping a Consistent Clean
When you regularly clean your sump pump, you’re doing your home an enormous favor. These appliances are like the beating heart of many houses, quietly chugging away to prevent flooding and sewage backing up during heavy rainfall.
However, these devices cannot prevent flooding entirely. Whether due to leaks or damp environments, flooding and mold are inevitable risks.