Types of Sump Pump Float Switches

Sump pumps are indispensable for the millions of people who want to keep their basements free from flooding. This is why we want them to be made from the best material and craftsmanship so we can forget about all our worries.

What most people don’t realize when they choose their sump pumps is that there’s another critical component that they need to carefully consider, I’m talking about the switch. It’s one of the most sensitive components in a sump pump that could easily make or break your system.

In this article, you will learn what a sump pump float switch is, how it works, and the different types of switches for sump pumps. Plus we’ll also be sharing our top choice for each type. So…

What is a sump pump float switch?

A sump pump switch controls the operation of the sump pump automatically by detecting the level of the water in the sump pit. This way, you don’t need to manually monitor the water level in the basement to start and stop your pump.

Sump Pump Float Switch Types

1. Tethered float switch

The tethered float switch is one of the common types of float switch for sump pumps. When the water level rises, the switch floats and causes the position of a steel ball inside it to change. The ball pushes a lever which in turn pushes a smaller switch that triggers the pump to run.

When the water level goes down again, the steel ball gets back to the initial position and stops the pump from running.

This type is best suited for larger sump pits as the switch easily gets tangled by debris, the basin, or the pump itself in tight spaces.

They’re adjustable so you can shorten the length of the cord to fit better but you also decrease the range of the pump’s operation by doing so. The best part is that they also last longer than the vertical float switch as long as you clean anything sticking to it that could weigh it down. 

2. Vertical float switch

The vertical float switch uses a float that travels straight up or down along a vertical rod. The design makes it ideal for use in narrow sump basins 14” and below in diameter. Although it would still work just as well in larger basins. 

The problem with using vertical float switches, especially in narrow basins, is that their range of vertical motion is usually only about half of that of tethered switches. This means it will only move half the amount of water every time it runs. This will cause the pump to have shorter cycles between on and off that may cause the pump to overheat.

Different manufacturers have their own ways to counter this such as making the switch adjustable to adapt to different circumstances.

3. Electronic switch

Electronic switches are the most reliable switches available since they don’t have moving parts. Like the vertical float switch, they’re also very convenient to use in tighter spaces. They work by creating an electric field that detects the presence of water around them.

These switches can last for much longer than the mechanical ones listed above but will also cost more for their reliability. You just have to check on them from time to time, depending on the debris and mineral content in your water, to clean up any buildup that can affect how it senses the level of the water.

How does a sump pump float switch work?

In a float switch, when the water level is high, the switch ‘floats’ and completes an electrical circuit that allows electricity to flow to the pump. When the water is low again, this circuit is broken and the pump stops running. 

What is a piggyback switch?

A piggyback switch has a plug that contains both the male and the female side. The male side is connected to the outlet and the female side is connected to the plug of the pump. Due to it being an entirely separate component from the pump, the piggyback offers a much easier replacement. This is really helpful since most pumps last much longer than the switch and you’ll have to replace it once or twice for a single pump.

What is a sump pump float switch?

A sump pump switch controls the operation of the sump pump automatically by detecting the level of the water in the sump pit. This way, you don’t need to manually monitor the water level in the basement to start and stop your pump.

Wrapping up

The 3 types of switch for sump pumps each have their pros and cons. It’s up to you to decide which one works best for you. Just remember that no matter which one you have, be it a digital or float switch, a little tender loving care always goes a long way. 

  • Clean any debris and buildup that can hinder the proper operation of the switch
  • Look for any punctures or damages on the switch
  • Check if the pump turns on and off at the intended levels
  • Fill the basin with water and run the pump every couple of months as the mechanical switches may get stuck if they get dried out for a long time
Don`t copy text!