Your sump pump protects your house from mold and mildew and can even prevent wet soil from damaging your foundation, but only if it is well maintained. In order to keep it running properly, you need to service it on a regular basis. If you rarely ever use your sump pump, you should do maintenance on it every four to five years. If you live somewhere sandy or muddy, you should do maintenance on your sump pump every year. Don't wait until your house is flooded to discover that you should have cleaned the sump pump out. If you leave your pump clogged with debris you can burn your motor out.
Safety First. Always turn your sump pump off before you do any type of maintenance on it. Most sump pumps are electric, save a few battery-operated models. If you attempt to clean your sump pump without unplugging it first, you could electrocute yourself. Don't take any risks.
Keep it Clean. The primary purpose of maintenance on your sump pump is to clean it, but this can be a pretty messy operation. Before you get started, get an empty bucket or a small plastic garbage can to catch the water that will pour from the valve once you open it. You can also use the bucket for all of the sludge you dig out of your sump pit.
Troubleshooting. If your sump pump won't run, your first step should be to clean it out. Most likely, it is clogged with debris. If you clean it and it still doesn't work, check your electricity. Confirm that your outlet is receiving power by plugging in another electric device and seeing if that will run. If your electric is fine and your pump isn't clogged, you may have burned out your motor. If your pump was clogged at some time and the motor ran without water, it could have burned up. If this is the case, the pump will need to be replaced.