What is Sump Pump and How Does It Work?

What Is A Sump Pump and How Does It Work

What Is A Sump Pump And How Does It Work? A sump pump is referred to as a device that pumps water from the basement to the outdoors where it is directed away from the house. The pit, or sump, that is produced in the concrete slab to collect excess water gives this device its name. A drain system, when properly installed, conducts water from the foundation to the sump, where it is discharged by the pump. As a result, the pump must be powerful enough to transport the water from the sump to the discharge point.

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What Is A Sump Pump?

Sump pumps drain water out of your basement and away from your house. A sump is a naturally formed pit; typically, a hole cut beneath the main surface of your basement floor. The sump pump is kept in this pit, which is referred to as a basin. The pump contains valves that detect rising water levels or pressure.

What Is A Sump Pump and How Does It Work
A sump pump (Reference: lowes.com)


A sump pump protects your home from flooding caused by heavy rains and rising waters, which can lead to massive repair bills and structural damage. It’s critical to understand which of the several types of sumps pumps is most suited to your requirements. The sump pump is often installed in the basement or crawlspace’s lowest level. The water from the sump pump is directed to a predetermined site, such as a creek or pond, a dry well, or even a neighborhood drain. Make sure your drain point isn’t in a place where water will return to your house. Consequently, it is best to keep it at least 10 to 20 feet away from your house’s foundation. It’s commonly a good idea to check with your local government because some places have building laws that dictate where your sump pump can discharge.

What Is A Sump Pump and How Does It Work
How to install a sump pump in a basement (Reference: h2oproservice.com)


Despite the fact that sump pumps can stop the bulk of the water, holes in your home’s construction can lead to leaks and long-term damage. Even if your new home has a sump pump installed, it’s crucial to check for this type of damage.

Sump pump systems are also used to control water table-related concerns in surface soil in industrial and commercial applications. Due to water saturation, an artesian aquifer or a periodic high water table can cause the ground to become unstable. The surface soil will remain steady as long as the pump is functional. These sumps are usually ten feet deep or more, and they’re lined with corrugated metal pipe with perforations or drain holes all over. Electronic control systems with visible and auditory alerts are common, and they’re normally covered to keep debris and animals out.

In the United States, modern sump pump components are standardized. They are as follows:

  • A sump basin made of plastic, metal, or concrete that is approximately 2 feet (0.6 m) broad and 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 1 m) deep, with a capacity of 15 to 25 US gallons (60 to 100 liters);
  • A sump pump of 1/3 or 1/2 horsepower (200 or 400 W), powered by batteries or mains (or both).


How Does A Sump Pump Work?

You almost certainly have a sump basin in your basement or crawl space, most likely in a corner or against an outer wall (also called a sump pit). You’ll see multiple holes in the wall of your sump basin if you remove the debris cover and check inside. Each of these holes is linked to a drainage pipe as follows: Some drain pipes link to internal drainage systems under your basement floor, while others flow from weeping tile pipes outside the bottom of your home’s foundation.

When groundwater accumulates outside your foundation or beneath your basement floor, it runs into your sump basin through a drain pipe. Your sump pump initiates when the water level equals a determined level. One of two approaches is used to activate sump pumps:

·    When the water pressure in your sump pit surpasses a specified level, a pressure sensor sends a signal to your pump.

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·    A float activator arm with a buoyant ball connected that floats on the water’s surface. Your sump pump initiates when the water level reaches a specified level.

Your pump’s impeller draws water from the sump pit and sends it up a discharge pipe using centrifugal force. The discharge pipe drains somewhere beyond the foundations of your house. To avoid freezing in the winter, discharge pipes should be buried at least 5 inches below the frost line. They should also flow downhill wherever possible.

The majority of sump pumps are connected into a home’s electrical system; battery backups are available on several AC-powered sump pumps; although others use the city’s water supply. Water-driven sump pumps function even when the power is out, making them a smart choice if you live in a location where storms happen on a regular basis.


Types of Sump Pump

Sump pumps are generally classified as either submersible or pedestal:

Submersible sump pump: The pump and motor are combined in submersible pumps. They’re encased in a basin in your basement, submerged and is electrically sealed to prevent short circuits. Submersible pumps are quieter, take up less room in your basement, and clog less than pedestal pumps because they are totally submerged in the water basin. They may not last as long as other sump pumps due to the impact of water submersion. For homes with serious flooding concerns, this is still the best solution.

Pedestal sump pump: The pedestal pump’s motor is placed above the sump, making it easier to service while also being more visible. A long, vertical extension shaft drives the pump impeller, which is housed in a scroll housing at the pump’s base. The pump transfers water via the hose to the predetermined drain spot. Because the motor is not submerged, it has a longer lifespan than other sump pumps and is more easily accessible for maintenance. It can, however, be noisier and take up more room than the submersible pump.

Which type of sump pump is best is a point of contention. If placed correctly and kept free of debris, pedestal sump pumps can endure for 25 to 30 years. They are less costly and less difficult to remove. Submersible pumps have a lifespan of only 5 to 15 years. They are more expensive to buy, but they are capable of collecting trash without clogging.

What Is A Sump Pump and How Does It Work
Types of sump pump: Left: Submersible, Right: Pedestal (Reference: pumpingchops.com)


In addition to these two categories, there are two other types of sump pumps that are as follows:

Battery-operated backup:  A backup battery sump pump is an efficient technique to protect your home from flood damage. As your power goes out during a storm, a battery backup with a float switch allows your sump pump to continue to work. When the power goes off, the pump’s major source of power goes out with it. The float switch is actuated when the water level in the basin rises, which activates your battery operation.

Water-powered backup:  Using higher water pressure, a water-powered backup clears the water in your basin. A water-powered system has the advantage of eliminating the need to monitor the backup or replace any batteries. The usage of more water greatly increases your water bill and is quite controversial. They are not permitted to be installed in some cities.


Types of Sump Pump Switches

Sump pump switches come in a variety of shapes and sizes. A switch system can be used to control sump pumps. The pump can be turned on separately using a switch. Switches, on the other hand, work in a different way, even though they achieve the same result. The following are examples of several types of switches and how they work:

  • Float switch: A float switch is a float that is attached to the pump and sits on the water’s surface. As the water level rises, the float rises with it, and the pump activates.
  • Pressure switch: A pressure switch detects the amount of pressure in the water as it rises and, to a certain extent, starts the pump’s activity.
  • Diaphragm switch: This switch works similarly to your diaphragm, flipping from concave to back when the pressure increases and falls, in and out. It’s the most popular because it doesn’t get stuck on or off very often.
  • Electrical switch: The electrical switch is activated by monitoring the water pressure within the basin, rather than by a float. As the water level rises, the pressure rises as well, triggering the probes and turning on the pump.


What Type Of Sump Pump Do I Require?

Purchasing sump pumps can be challenging. It’s critical to choose the correct sump pump for your home’s safety. The majority of consumers select the submersible or pedestal pumps with features tailored to their specific requirements. Choose a pump with enough horsepower to manage the amount of water you’re dealing with. You’re still at risk of flooding if you choose a sump pump with less horsepower than is required for the level of flooding in your area. At the same time, a larger horsepower than required will induce cycling, or the pump turning on and off frequently, reducing the pump’s lifespan. A one-third horsepower submersible pump will suffice if you live in an average-sized home with an average quantity of rainfall that is not built deep into the water table. A one-half horsepower submersible pump can provide the extra power you need if your home is deeper into the water table, has larger seepage difficulties, or requires a longer drainage point. Finally, if you’re dealing with severe flooding, a more powerful sump pump you require.

What Is A Sump Pump and How Does It Work
Importance of home sump pump (Reference: fluidswitch.com)


Generally, when selecting for a sump pump system, keep the following points in mind:

1.     Select the Appropriate Horsepower for Your Needs.

Pumps with more horsepower aren’t always better. If you don’t need a large pump, don’t put one in because it may fail early. Choose a smaller, more efficient pump instead.

2.     Choose the Correct Float Switch.

Although mechanical float activator arms are visible and easy to inspect, they can become trapped on occasion. Electronic switches are more streamlined and take up less space in your sump pit, but they’re also more difficult to replace.

3.     Consider installing a sump pump backup system.

Some stores provide sump pump packages that include backup sump pumps. A backup is included into combination sump pump systems. If you don’t already have one, consider installing a backup sump pump. Some pumps have fancy extra characteristics like water alarm systems, and some even connect to Wi-Fi so that if they develop a defect, they can send signals to your smartphone or smart home. However, most homeowners can get by with simple, high-quality automated pumps.


Cost of a Sump Pump

A list of determinants to take into account when evaluating the cost of a sump pump in your home is provided below:

  • Type of sump pump: Your cost will be determined by the type of sump pump you select for your home. The sump pump’s material, size, horsepower, and additional features, such as a backup battery or a certain switch type, can all affect the price.
  • Materials of the basement: The cost of installation is affected by the floor of your basement. If your basement is composed of cement or concrete, the floor in the lowest area of your basement where you wish to put the pump will need to be removed. The higher the labor expense, the thicker the cement.
  • Drainage: Yard drainage lines or extension hoses might increase the cost of installation if your city demands a drainage point a distance from your home. Not to mention that they can lead to damage to your lawn and even freeze in the winter.
  • Licensed specialist: Installing the sump pump yourself might save you a lot of money if you know what you’re doing. If you’re unsure, however, it’s advisable to see a licensed specialist. The cost of installation is less than the cost of repairing a flooded basement.
  • Permits: The cost of a permit varies by area, so it’s best to think about it ahead of time. The rules will also assist you in calculating the job’s cost.


You can watch this video to comprehend the working principle of a sump pump.

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