How to Prime a Sump Pump. You can use a sump pump to remove water from flooded basements, draining pools and pool covers. This equipment is also handy for bailing water out of boats and emptying clogged drains. Follow these steps to prime it.

Step 1

Understand that to prime a sump pump simply means to get it ready to pump. It must be primed for operation. Basically, the pump needs to have water poured into it. If your pump is not working properly, look for air leaks in the lines first. The slightest air leak can cause the pump to lose prime.

Step 2

Check the suction piping and foot valve at the end of the suction line if your well is not pumping properly. The foot valve keeps the suction line full of water, thus keeping the pump primed.

Step 3

Cover any air leaks you find in your water lines or suction piping. Put a piece of duct tape securely over the spot that's leaking.

Step 4

Make sure you prime from the topmost level of the pump with the valve between the pump and the tank closed. Very few pumps prime the first time. It usually takes several tries.

Step 5

Use either a submersible or non-submersible sump pump for pumping water out of basements, pools, and boats or to drain water off of flat roofs. Submersible pumps go under water and have a screen to keep trash out of the pump. The submersible pump must be in water before it will prime.

Step 6

Get a non-submersible sump pump ready to prime by hooking a water hose to the inlet side. Make sure the hose is full of water before you turn the pump on. That way the pump is not sucking air.