How can a sump pump in a crawl space only accessible by crawling down a hole in a closet have its GFCI protected outlet monitored from the living room?

I am imagining the best way to run the pump is to run a dedicated 20 amp circuit to the pump outlet and put in a GFCI breaker. The breaker could be reset up in the utility room. If the pump is plugged into a GFCI receptacle in the crawl space the homeowners would have no idea it tripped and would have to crawl under the house to check on it and rest it.

The problem of checking on the GFCI is a little easier if they only have to look in their breaker box.

But I would like to be able to have some sort of indication in the living space so that they could see more easily that the GFCI had tripped. The crawl space is on an island and it is a busy pump.

I imagined putting a light in the living room in a box like a switch would be installed. The light would get its power fed through the outlet the pump was running on. If the GFCI tripped off and the outlet lost power, and the pump went off so would the light. What is the best light device of this nature that could serve this purpose? Is there a better way to deal with this sump pump?

  • 2
    Your desire to provide monitoring for the sump pump GFI breaker is all well and good.....but I see a potential problem or two. First off this GFI should not be tripping unless there is truly something wrong on the downwind circuit of the GFI unit. If there is nuisance tripping then there is some problem that needs fixing right away. On the other hand if things are going along normally and then the GFI trips having the reset ability convenient in the living space will likely lead to simple resetting without an investigation of what caused the trip. Is this the safest thing???
    – Michael Karas
    May 24 '13 at 6:28

There are GFCI outlets that have indicator LEDs on them, like this one:

enter image description here

If you put this in the living space, then connect the sump receptacle (a normal, non-GFCI receptacle) to the "load" side of this outlet, it will also be protected. If it trips, the light will be out and you'll know it.

To make it more obvious, you could plug a nightlight into this outlet.

Even better, plug in an "emergency rechargeable flashlight": the kind that plug into the wall, but turn on automatically when you unplug them or the power goes out.

enter image description here

This would more readily draw attention: if the light is on, there is a problem.


If the ground-fault protection was provided by a GFCI breaker, you could plug a power outage alarm into the sump receptacle. If the GFCI breaker trips, the alarm will sound, and the homeowners will know they have to reset the breaker.

Power outage alarm

You also might want to consider installing a backup water-powered sump pump. There is a great video from This Old House on How to Install a Water-Powered Sump Pump, which also explains how they work.

  • Highly recommend the water-powered backup in addition to the alarm too, you aren't going to hear the alarm while you're on vacation at the beach.
    – Tim Post
    May 25 '13 at 15:51

A lot of good GFCI answers, but nothing (except Tester101 backup sump) addresses sump pump failure. A battery backed water alarm should be in the bag of tricks.

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