Sump Pump Basics

A flooded basement is one of the worst things that can happen to your home. It can lead to structural damage of the building and even serious health effects. You need a way to always keep the water out of the house and prevent the basement from flooding.

Sump pumps do exactly just that so you can enjoy complete peace of mind while you focus on important things. Read on and you’ll know exactly what sump pump is, what are its types, and all the other details you need to know before getting one.

What is a sump pump?​

Underground parts of the building, such as a basement or a crawlspace, usually accumulate water as a result of foundation seepage or plumbing problems. A sump pump is a device that sucks the water that has collected in a pit at lowest part of these areas and moves it outside to storm sewers or ponds.

It protects the building, carpets, and furniture from mold, rot, and structural damage by keeping it dry and healthy.

How does it work?

The sump pump does its job with a motor that rotates an impeller. As the impeller rotates, the water is sucked upwards into the pump where it is pushed out towards a series of pipes that lead away from the building.

What are the types of sump pumps?

We can classify them by style and by power source. Understanding the different types will help you better in choosing the pump that can keep your basement water free.

By style

pedestal vs submersible sump pump

1. Submersible sump pump

The submersible type is built to be fully submerged in water with an enclosure that protects its motor from water and dust. The pumped water helps cool the motor either directly or through heat exchange with an oil-filled compartment.

This type can move more volume of water and can handle solids better than the pedestal type. It’s also less prone to fire as the water can help eliminate smoke and ignition.

But because they’re made to withstand harsh conditions, they usually cost more, weigh more, and are harder to replace as you have to reach deeper into the pit to grab the pump.

Although, thanks to its weight and short frame, the submersible sump pump is more stable and produces less noise when running, especially when the water level is high. You can also disguise the pit easily since only the cover of the pit and the discharge pipes are exposed.

2. Pedestal sump pump

The pedestal type, on the other hand, is cheaper yet usually lasts longer than the submersible pump. It is designed to be high above the water at all times, hence the name, since it isn’t waterproof.

This makes it obtrusive and noisy which may become distracting especially if your basement’s ceiling has no insulation that can help dampen the sound.

It also can’t deal with solids as well as the submersible pump. So if you think the pump will be prone to debris, you should choose the submersible type. 

The good thing about a pedestal sump pump is that it’s easier to repair or replace since you can pull it out from above the pit. 

You can also easily adjust the length of the cord easily so you can tweak when and how often the pump runs. This, along with its slim frame makes it perfect for smaller sump pits.

By power source

1. Primary

The primary pump is the most common type that runs using electricity from the outlet. It’s the most powerful and can move the most volume of water compared to the rest. This is typically what people mean when referring to their sump pumps.

2. Battery backup

A battery backup sump pump is usually a 12V DC pump that runs on power stored in a battery. It’s usually installed a few feet above the primary, ready to take over in case of failure.

There are also combination sump pumps that assemble a primary and a backup pump in one compact package for easier installation.

3. Power inverter

If you can’t find a battery backup that’s powerful enough in case of power outages, you can still use the primary with the help of a power inverter with charger. It converts the DC power from a battery into AC power which the primary pump needs.

4. Water powered

A water powered sump pump uses city or municipal water pressure to suck the water from the pit. Although it can pump the least amount of water, it’s popular in some areas since water supply is almost always present even during disasters.

Sump pump accessories

1. Sump basin

The sump basin is a pre-molded liner that sits inside the pit in the basement. It houses the pump and collects the water from beneath the slab of the basement.

2. Check valve

The check valve helps to keep the water from flowing back into the pit. 

3. Switch

The switch triggers the pump to start or stop depending on the water level in the sump pit. It usually comes attached to the motor or as a stand alone unit.

4. Alarms

Sump pump alarm systems help detect abnormal water levels. They can be installed to notify you when the water level has risen too high. It can send an email, a text, a buzzer, or even a voice message if the pump failed to run or if the power is out.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who installs sump pumps?

Your local plumber, a waterproofer, or you yourself may install it. If you’re thinking of doing it on your own though, you should consider your own skill level, tools, and hourly rate then decide if it makes sense to DIY. If you decide to hire a professional, try to get multiple quotes from your area to get a better price.

How much do sump pumps cost?

The ones from trusted brands generally cost $100 to $200 for a ⅓ HP pump and $150 to $300 for a ½ HP pump, both are enough for most indoor residential uses. For worse cases of flooding or outdoor use, decent ¾ HP pumps start at around $150 while 1 HP pumps are priced at $200 and above. Prices vary depending on the build material and manufacturer.

FAQs on Sump Pumps

Wrapping up

Sump pumps are awesome at keeping our buildings free from flooding. They’re affordable and very effective at doing their job, giving us more freedom to focus on important things and obtain complete peace of mind.

You can choose a submersible type if you want a compact pump that does the job quietly. If you prefer a cheaper and longer lasting pump, a pedestal type is a great choice.

For that extra layer of protection, a backup — whether battery or water powered — is very important to make sure you’re protected every hour of the day.