Can I unplug my sump pump?

by | Mar 14, 2022 | Plumbing

Is it wise to unplug your sump pump? Not typically.

Homeowners may want to consider whether or not it is safe for them to unplug their sump pump. The constant running of this type equipment could become very inconvenient, especially if your sump pump makes considerable noise. But it’s important to note that emergency flooding situations can happen at any time. Even in the dead of night when you’re sleeping. Your sump pump system safeguards your home at all times.

That’s why we recommend you always keep your sump pump plugged in. Unanticipated flood events are when you need your sump pump the most. Your sump pump is no good to your when your it;s unplugged!


Sump pit with black cover and discharge lines running out. Installed in a basement concrete floor near foundation wall. A sump pump system like this serves to discharge excess groundwater, landscape drainage water from weeping tile systems, and excess flood water.

Typically never unplug your sump pump

A sump pump acts to catch any water under your foundation not already caught by your property’s weeping tile, drainage, or other groundwater distribution system. It can also help to disperse water from heavy rainfall periods, or local water body flooding events. In essence it, a sump pump discharges water away from your home’s foundations, footings, and structure. This prevents your basement or crawl space from flooding!

With the installation of a sump pump, water can be removed from your home’s foundation and disposed off safely away. This will reduce risk for seepage into walls due to accumulated moisture that would otherwise occur without this type system in place.

A “sump” or underground pit is where all the drainage from a weeping tile system, your property’s landscape drainage and groundwater can runoff to.

Without the sump pump operational, in this case, let’s say it’s unplugged for an extended duration of time – there are a number of negative consequences your home could endure. For instance, leakage and flooding into your home, the inability to deal with emergency flooding situations, and even structural damage to concrete foundations.

Water can drain into your sump pit at any time, from a variety of sources albeit. That’s why you should typically never unplug your sump, except in a few choice scenarios.


Depending on your property or home, you may have drainage facilitated by the city or your own means. Many homes in Canada have their own weeping tile system around and beneath foundations. In other scenarios, a building’s rainwater is ran directly to the storm water sewer system.

When you can unplug your sump pump?

There are a few scenarios where it makes perfect sense to unplug your sump pump. For example, for cleaning, to facilitate repairs, or for situations where it’s not operating as it should where you need to inspect the unit.

But it’s important to immediately plug the sump pump back in once repairs or inspection is over.

This will ensure you’re always keeping yourself protected from flooding events.

Cleaning your sump pump

Of course, you know that your sump pump needs to be cleaned from time-to-time. You don’t want it dying in its first year! Maintenance is key for a long lasting -and working–sump pump.

So after unplugging your sump pump for cleaning, ensure it’s plugged right back in.

Sourcing a problem

When you feel like something is wrong with your sump pump, don’t just ignore the issue!

Inspect and fix it as soon as possible.

You may need to pump all water out of the basin in order locate where the failure is in your sump pump system. So unplugging your sump pump will be necessary in this case.

If you or a professional plumber can fix the issue, do so. But if the pump is truly non-salvageable, replace it with a new sump pump as soon as you can.

Frequently Asked Questions

Here are some relatable questions to “can I unplug my sump” that may aid you in you in your quest to understanding when and when it isn’t safe to unplug your sump pump.

Is it dangerous to unplug a sump pump while it’s running?

Typically if your sump pump is running that means there’s enough liquid in your pit to have triggered it’s operation.

This means water is actively flowing into your sump pit. It also means enough volume of liquid has accumulated in your basin to turn on your sump pump.

Carefully monitoring the accumulation of water is necessary in this scenario. Don’t over extend the duration to which you unplug your sump pump if active drainage to your discharge lines is occurring.

Obviously, if you’re basement or crawl space is flooding or you can hear allot of water draining into the put then do not unplug your sump pump.

Even short a duration of an unplugged sump pump during a flooding event can cause backflow flooding. So you can expect flooding into other areas on your property and in your home!

Don’t unplug your sump pump if it’s running on, wait until the pit is dry.

A dry pit and not on sump pump is the ideal situation.

When can I unplug my sump pump for cleaning?

Ideally you’ll want to unplug your sump pump for cleaning when the pit is empty.

That and when no active drainage is going into the pit.

This way you can comfortably disconnect the sump pump for cleaning per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Make sure to plug the sump pump back in immediately after cleaning is done.

Can I unplug my sump pump if it has an electrical fault?

There are no concerns with this generally. Go ahead and unplug your sump pump, reset your breaker and plug your sump pump back in. If it’s back in operation great.

Remember that sump pumps in some areas are required by code to be hooked up to dedicated circuit.

This means that even if the circuit-breaker gets tripped by any other appliance the sump pump won’t be prevented from going on when it’s needed.

How do freezing temperatures affect your sump pump?

Sump pumps still see frequent use through freezing temperatures. Even if outside conditions are frozen solid – water will still flow into a sump pit.

While it is possible that your sump pump could cause trouble in freezing temperatures, due to discharge lines getting frozen and clogged, that still doesn’t mean you should unplug it.

There are other factors to consider. For example if you’re not home when the line freezes and gets clogged and then clear during a thaw cycle in your warmer winter weather, you could be in for a nasty flood as that newly melted drain water feeds into your sump pit.

Why is my sump pump running constantly?

The most common reason for a sump pump to be running continuously is when the float switch gets stuck, or if there’s some other sort of breakdown in operation. This causes water to flow back into the pit, which in turn causes your sump pump to run continuously.

In addition, a poor installation from an amateur is a common culprit for a sump pump to run continuously. Discharge lines, for example, need to bet put on a slight slope to prevent clogging.

Another culprit for constant sump pump operation is an improperly sized sump pump. If you have a sump pump installed that doesn’t meet minimum requirements for the amount of drainage water you get in your pit, the sump pump will constantly struggle to discharge enough water.

This means over time your undersized sump pump will be in operation for a longer duration than a properly sized sump pump would. This is harder on the pump from an equipment lifespan perspective, and the constant noise of your pump in operation may annoy you.


We hope this post answered your questions on the suitability of unplugging your sump in certain situations.

If you found this post useful, please share it so others can see it too!

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