Water-Powered Sump Pumps: Advantages and Disadvantages

Water-powered sump pumps sound great. Protecting your basement from water damage with water? How cool is that? Well, you may want to read a bit more about it first. It’s a neat piece of equipment but it has its limitations and even some restrictions. Read on to learn more about the advantages and disadvantages of water-powered sump pumps.

What is a water powered backup sump pump?

The water driven sump pump uses municipal or city water pressure to evacuate gray water in a sump pit. It’s a backup pump that does not use any electricity but can move up to around 1200 gallons per hour. It protects your basement from flooding while your primary pump is out of commission due to a power outage or malfunction. 

How does a water powered sump pump work?

When the main electric pump fails, the water level in the sump pit will go up and reach the float switch of the water-driven pump. The switch triggers a valve at the water pump to open allowing the city water to enter an eductor. This eductor gradually constricts the city water turning it into a jet. The high speed of the jet creates a low pressure area around it which causes the water in the sump to be sucked up and discharged out of the house.

Water Powered Sump Pump Advantages

1. Water supply is reliable

Depending on your area, water supply is likely to be more reliable compared to electricity in times of need. Power failures are more common and will often go out for long periods of time especially during disasters.

2. Water powered pumps can run indefinitely

This type of pump can run for as long as there is water pressure available. Unlike a battery that runs out of juice after a day or two, you can run a water-powered pump for as long as you need. 

3. They are simple with less malfunctions

Water-powered pumps last much longer than the battery backups. Thanks to their simple design, these pumps can easily last for decades as long as you do the proper maintenance stated in the manual.

4. You don't need to replace their batteries

Batteries, no matter the type, will have to be replaced after a few years in service. With a water-powered pump, there’s really nothing to replace if you have a maintenance-free pump. This also makes it more environmentally friendly. 

5. There are no extra costs until it runs

The unit uses zero amount of water unless it runs which happens only when your primary pump fails. Batteries slowly discharge even without using and are charged automatically, consuming electricity. You probably won’t notice it much in your monthly bill but it can add up over time.

Water Powered Sump Pump Disadvantages

1. Lower pumping capacity

The average pumping capacity of water-powered sump pumps is only around 1000 gph. Compared with battery backups that have models ranging from 1000 to 2400 gph. 

2. Needs high water pressure

Most models require water pressure of at least 50 to 60 psi to operate properly. Normal range for the average home is at 40 to 60 psi. If you’re situated away from your city water line’s booster pumps, you may experience less than that. If a lot of people in your neighborhood use it at the same time, the pressure will definitely suffer and the pumps may not work effectively. 

3. May cause high water bills

There are cases where homeowners have complained about high water bills because their pumps malfunctioned and ran nonstop without them noticing. You can prevent this from happening by checking in on your pump and doing routine maintenance. 

4. Might be illegal in your area

These types of pumps are illegal in some areas so it’s best to check with your local code or your plumber to make sure. The possible reasons for this include: 

  • Water backflow – Some cities have made water-driven sump pumps illegal due to possible backflow of sump water into the city water line.
  • Affects your area’s water pressure – When it consumes potable water to work, the amount of water inside the city water line decreases, reducing the pressure. This can cause areas farther away from the source to have supply problems.
  • Adds more water to the streets – During heavy rains when the street and the main storm line is in full capacity, water-powered sump pumps add not only the gray water from sumps but also clean potable water.


Like a lot of things, a water-powered sump pump has its strengths and weaknesses. It’s very convenient and reliable but in exchange for that, you get a pump that’s not as powerful and has a few restrictions. It’s not for everyone, but for those lucky enough who can use them, the pump is a blessing.

If you’re interested about them, check out our review for the best water-powered sump pumps available today. If, however, you want an alternative, check out battery backups for existing sump pumps

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *