Sump pumps pull water away from the house and depending on your property, it either disperses that water or dumps it into a well or municipal storm drain.

Many homes in Georgia have a sump pump so including that as part of your regular home maintenance schedule is important, especially because you not only want to keep it running smoothly but you also want to avoid problems.

One problem that you may encounter is a foul smelling odor coming from your sump pump when it rains.

What Is Causing Your Sump Pump To Smell?

Generally speaking, there are 4 different reasons that you are enduring a bad smell from your sump pump unit.

  • A sewer line has broken and sewage is leaking in to the sump pump pit causing that sewage smell.
  • Water is collecting in the sump pump pit and it's not being circulated out causing it to stagnate which can cause a foul smell.
  • There should always be a little water in your sump pump pit - if it goes completely dry gases can escape and cause the bad odor.
  • If your sump pump is being used to drain greywater from your home then detergents and soaps can leave a residue which can eventually cause a smell.

But what would cause a sump pump to smell specifically when it rains?

When it's raining, especially a heavy rain, the ground around your home may become saturated and your sump pump may not be able to handle the amount of water which can cause it to malfunction. This can lead to some of the issues listed above that would eventually end up in that foul smell in your home.

Of course, if the smell is coming from a broken sewer line - that is not the fault of your sump pump.

What Can Be Done To Fix The Problem?

The solution will certainly depend on the cause of the bad smell, so let's go over each of the possible causes that we mentioned above.

Broken Sewer Line

If the cause of that bad smell is due to a broken sewer line resulting in sewage spilling into your sump pump pit, then the location and nature of that broken sewer line needs to be investigated and repaired. A sewer camera inspection is recommended for this job so we urge you to call a professional plumber right away.

Stagnating Water

Standing water can cause bacteria to grow which could then cause that funny smell.

This normally happens during a dry spell or drought so not normally during or after a rain. But you do want to check that your sump pump is working correctly.

It may be that your unit has a broken check valve and if that is the case, it needs to be replaced.

But if all the components are in good working order and it's simply a matter of a very dry weather pattern - then you can use a diluted bleach solution to fix the problem. Follow the instructions below to clean out

  • Use one cup of bleach for every gallon of fresh water.
  • Pour this solution into your sump pump pit and keep pouring until the pump is activated and begins working.
  • Clean the walls of the pit with a scrub brush with this same solution.

Dry Sump Pump Pit

Your sump pump pit should have a little bit of water in it at all times - that's very normal.

But if you notice that it often runs completely dry then there is a problem with either the installation of the sump pump (perhaps you've just had it installed?) or the pump is not correctly linked to a drainage system.

We recommend you contact the company that installed the sump pump (if it's a recent installation) or call a plumber to have the drainage line inspected.

Greywater Drainage

Like any appliance in your home, sump pumps need maintenance. If your unit is being used to drain the greywater away from your home - you will need to pay a little extra attention to cleaning your pump and pit on a regular basis.

What is greywater? - It's waste water that comes from when you shower, when you use the washing machine, the dishwasher, etc.

Sump Pump Maintenance Checklist

Check the plug - Sump pumps should be plugged in to a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlet. There are times that the GFCI breaker will trip (especially if the area is damp) so check to make sure it is still on, if not, reset it.

Positioning - If you have a free-standing sump pump (some are inground) then you want to make sure that it hasn't fallen over due to some vibrations either within the home or within the sump pump itself.

Test It Out - Pour a bucket of water into the pit which should then make the unit automatically turn on. If the pump doesn't start, then you know it needs to be serviced.

Cleaning - Remove the submerisible pump from the pit and clean out the grate which is located at the bottom of the unit. Oftentimes small stones and other debris can get caught in that grate and block the flow or damage the pump over time.

Check for Odor - If you smell a nasty odor it may be that water is not flowing from the trap to the basin. The solution is to add 1 cup of bleach to a gallon of water and then pour that combination into the trap.

If you notice any problems with the unit, contact your plumber.

If you have any questions about sump pumps, call Atlantis Plumbing today at 770-443-8229. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.