What Is a Sump Pump and What Does It Do?

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The worst nightmare of any homeowner is a flooded basement. Flooded basements are more common than you may think, and can cause irreparable damage and cost thousands to pump out. Thankfully, a good sump pump can help push that nightmare out of your head and help you rest well.

If you suffer from a leaky basement, don’t sleep on getting a sump pump installed any longer. Keep reading for a rundown on what sump pumps are, how they work, and why you might need one.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a pump inserted into a holding chamber (sump pit or basin) installed into the floor that collects groundwater and pumps it out to a drainage spot somewhere else on the property. They’re typically found in crawl spaces and basements and can be extremely beneficial to homeowners by stopping a potential flooding situation.

Some basements have leaks and areas that collect water, so a sump pump is absolutely necessary as it will stop the flooding before it happens. It also comes in handy in the case of a severe rainstorm, or, if you live on a lake or river, rising waters. A flooded basement can be extremely difficult to manage and fix, so a sump pump is a real home saver in these events.

Some places in the US even require sump pumps to be installed into homes, as was decided in the 1987 US Federal Clean Water Act. However, if your house is old or you’re not within these states, your home may not have a working sump pump, or may need an updated sump pump. It’s always important to ask whether or not a home has a sump pump before purchasing.

How Do Sump Pumps Work?

Sump pumps detect when water levels are rising in the basin and get to work draining that water. A discharge line is attached to the sump pump and leads to a drainage area where the water will be sent. Typical drainage points are ponds, neighborhood drains, lakes or creeks, or a dry well, where the water won’t adversely affect its surroundings.

It’s important to make sure the drainage point isn’t too near to your house, so the water won’t simply flow back inside. Make sure your drainage point is away from your home. You can also get extended drainage hoses if you need that extra length for your sump pump.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are a few different types of sump pumps to consider before installing one in your basement.

A submersible sump pump is one of the most common types and consists of a basin with a pump and motor installed inside. These are quiet, save space, don’t clog very often, and are unnoticeable. Unfortunately, they may not last as long as other types of sump pumps as they are frequently submerged in water, but they’re still one of the best sump pump choices.

The other popular type is the pedestal sump pump, which has a separate motor and pump, unlike the submersible. With a pedestal pump, the motor is installed above the sump pit and is attached to the pump with a hose. Water travels through the hose to the drainage area.

Having a motor above the basin has its advantages and disadvantages. Pedestal sump pumps are louder because the motor is outside of the ground, and they also take up more space. However, pedestal pumps are longer lasting and require less maintenance as they’re not being submerged in water.

The type of sump pump you choose to install is up to you, with the most important factor being the total horsepower. If you’re at risk of heavy flooding you’re going to want a higher horsepower pump so the sump pump doesn’t get clogged or overwhelmed. The right horsepower can be hard to determine, however, as it’s heavily based on location, so it’s best to contact a professional and have them best determine how much power you’ll need.

Things to Consider

Having a backup system for your sump pump is one of the top things to consider. If the power goes out in your home during a heavy storm your sump pump won’t work. To combat this, you can get a battery or water-operated backup, which will keep the pump running in just these situations using a battery or the water being drained itself.

You also need to consider the switch of your sump pump, or how to get it started. Sump pumps with float switches, electronic switches, or diaphragm switches work automatically by kicking in when they detect a rise in water pressure and are most commonly used as they require no thought.

Some choose to install a manual switch which allows them to turn the device on themselves, but this is usually a worse choice as it involves you having to remember to turn it on, and having to be home.

You also need to remember to check on your sump pump semi-regularly for clogs, especially if you have a pedestal pump with a hose. These hoses can get backed up, leaving your sump pump useless. Always keep on top of your sump pump’s maintenance!

Basement flooding, even if it’s not severe, can lead to mold and mildew, and cause some pretty serious health concerns. If your basement suffers from even a little leakage, you definitely need a good sump pump.

Do You Need a Sump Pump?

If you have a basement in your home, you should definitely have a sump pump. Even if you don’t live in a particularly rainy area, you never know when a storm could hit and threaten the wellbeing of your basement. It’s better to be safe than sorry and have that extra level of insurance against flooding, so don’t hesitate to invest in a good sump pump.

If your basement needs waterproofing, check out our services page to see how we can help you. And feel free to contact us with any comments, questions, or concerns,