How A Sump Pump Can Protect Your Home

Your home is your castle. You’ve worked hard to own a little slice of the American dream and you’re proud of your accomplishment. It’s the home where you’ll raise your family.

You’ll have countless holiday gatherings there, and you’ll probably go through some less than happy times to. No matter what, your home is one of the most important (and expensive) things you will ever own in your lifetime.

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So, when you live in an area that is prone to flooding, you’re going to want to protect your home as much as you can. But, it isn’t even the threat of flooding that can lay waste to your home, simply having a wet basement can be problematic. Fortunately, that’s where the sump pump can come in handy.

In this guide, we are going to go over what sump pumps are, why you need them, and so much more. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s dive right in.

What Dangers Are A Result Of Water In The Basement?

Naturally, it’s a bad idea to allow for there to be any moisture in the home, especially in the basement or the crawl space. Moisture and water can lead to some very dangerous things, such as:

  • Mold: With too much moisture in the basement, it could lead to the formation of mold. The mold and mildew in your basement could spread throughout your home and make everyone sick.
  • Poor Air Quality: You’ve walked into a basement and it has a certain smell to it. This isn’t good because it is an indication there is mold growing.
  • Rot: With too much moisture or water in the basement or crawlspace, you’re putting the wood at risk of rotting, which weakens the home and it could be dangerous.
  • Rust: Pipes under your home could rust and contaminate your drinking water, potentially making you and your loved ones very ill as a result.
  • Water Damage: Water damage can ruin your home, but also the expensive gadgets, finishes, and other upgrades you may have in your basement.

When we purchase homes, one of the most important places we should take into consideration is the basement or the crawlspace. If there is damage here, or if it’s susceptible to flooding, it can lead to very costly repairs if left unchecked.

Before you sign on the dotted line, ask about the house’s sump pump; how old it is, if it’s been serviced regularly, and if the house has been prone to flooding in the past.

What Is A Sump Pump?

So, what is a sump pump, you ask? It is probably one of the most important appliances you can have in your home if you have a basement. The device is often found in the lowest part of the basement or crawl space. It is designed to help the space under your home (and other types of buildings) dry and prevent it from flooding.

Usually, these pumps are installed in a pit that is designed just for the pump. The water will flow into this pit through a series of drains (or even natural water migration via the soil). The sump pump then pumps the water out from the pit and away from the building’s foundation – leaving it nice and dry.

According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, over 60 percent of homes in the US suffer from below ground wetness, which is another problem homeowners face.

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However, even more homeowners are going to have to deal with a flooded basement at one point or another. Moist basements and crawlspaces can also lead to the growth of mold and mildew, which is a whole other mess unto itself.

Sump pumps have been a common appliance that is found in the home, especially in homes that are located in low-lying areas, or areas where there tends to be rapid melting of heavy snow, or heavy bouts of rain.

In 1987, the US Federal Clean Water Act was set, making it a requirement that even homes that aren’t at a high risk of flooding have a sump pump. It is almost impossible to find a newly constructed home without a sump pump.

How Do Sump Pumps Work? 

The mechanism inside the sump pump isn’t a complicated device. When the sump fills with water, there is a motor inside the pump that will turn on automatically. This is aided by a float activator.

There are some models that use a pressure sensor that will turn the device on. The float activator works a lot like a float used in the tank of your toilet. There is a ball that is kept afloat in the pump. Whenever the water rises, the ball will move the arm of the pump, thus turning it on.

When the sump pump activates, it will pump water and carry it to the dry well on your property, or even a city storm drain via the one-way valve. This valve is found at the end of the pump and it is going to be responsible for keeping the water from returning back to the pit.

How Do You Know If You Need A Sump Pump

Once you’ve finished an expensive basement remodel, you might want to consider springing for a sump pump (or a few depending on the size of your basement) in case of an emergency where your basement becomes flooded. However, you may not need it.

How do you know if you should get a sump pump for your home?

  • The basement has flooded before.
  • Your home is in an area that is flat or low-lying and the soil traps water regularly.
  • You live in an area prone to high amounts of rain and/or snow.
  • Your finished basement contains expensive appliances you want to protect from mold and water.
  • Your home already has a sump pump that is more than 5 years old.

Types Of Sump Pumps 

There are four types of sump pumps that you could choose for your home:

Primary Sump Pump

Primary sump pumps are the most common type of pump you’ll find in a residential building. These pumps are designed to pump water that seeps into the basement and they are used to prevent any flooding. These pumps are capable of removing several thousands of gallons each hour in the event of a flood. There are two types of primary sump pumps:

Pedestal

These pumps are not designed to be submerged in the water. The motor to the sump pump is electric and it is found above the pump. These pumps also have a float activated switch that’s activated by the rising water level. These pumps are going to be louder than the submersible counterpart, but they are better suited for basements that requires water drainage frequently.

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Submersible

Submersibles run on electricity and they are usually installed in the ground. They are made to work while under the water and have a float activated switch. These pumps have a sealed, oil-cooled motor that can protect them from moisture and dust from getting inside. These sump pumps generally run much quieter than other types of pumps.

Battery Backed Sump Pump

These pumps are generally used as a backup in case the electric goes out and your electric-powered sump pump fails. These pumps can be the very thing that saves your basement during an emergency.

These pumps can also kick on when the primary pump fails for one reason or another, or simply cannot pump water fast enough during a natural disaster or just heavy rain storm.

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Combination Sump Pumps

Combination sump pumps are a combination of both a primary pump and a battery powered pump. With these pumps, you’re protected during normal situations like your average rain fall, but also in power outages because the battery will turn the pump on when your home loses electricity.

Also, if the primary pump cannot keep up with the rising water, the battery powered pump will kick on to help.

Sewage Pumps

These pumps aren’t necessarily the same thing as a sump pump, although they can be used to act like one. The sewage pump is designed to remove sewage waste away from the home into a septic system. These pumps will run automatically once installed, either in a septic tank or a separate chamber just for the pump.

Portable Sump Pumps

A portable sump pump is useful in an emergency situation because it can slow the rate of water in your home, but they can also be used to remove water from homemade fish ponds, swimming pools, or even a sewage system.

Things To Remember When Using A Portable Sump Pump

When you are using a portable sump pump,, you have to remember that it is a low pressure pump that is going to move water from one spot to another. To use the portable pump, you will want to:

  • Place the pump somewhere that doesn’t flood frequently. It needs to be near the water, but not in it and it also needs to be near an outlet. Keep in mind that your pump should be placed near the floor so that it is easier to push the water.
  • To use the temporary pump while you are waiting for a permanent one, you will want to avoid using it for large jobs or for frequently flooding. As it is working, make sure the pump will turn off as it empties, this will protect the motor from drying and possibly burning out.

Other than sump pumps, you’ll find products that include floor sucker pumps, sewage pumps, basins, HVAC condensate pumps, and much more.

Trusted Sump Pump Manufacturers 

When you are considering sump pumps, you don’t want to choose a device that is made from a no-name company. You want to pick up something that is from a trusted manufacturer, such as these:

  • Zoeller Sump Pumps: The Zoeller Pump Company is one of the most trusted manufacturers of sump pumps and plumbing necessities. The company provides solutions for any waste water problems that residential and commercial facilities may face.
  • WAYNE Sump Pumps: The WAYNE company has been creating water systems for more than 85 years. They engineer market leading innovation that makes them stand out among the competition.

Combine their innovative products with impeccable customer service and it’s no wonder WAYNE is among the most trusted companies. Other products in their line up include pumps for the pool, the lawn, back up pumps, utility pumps, well pumps, and more.

How To Install A Sump Pump

For the average handy man, installing a sump pump can be done in a few hours. To install, you’re only going to need a few tools:

  • Drill bits
  • Electric drill
  • Hammer
  • Pipe cutter

Materials you will need

  • Pressurized fittings
  • Wire ties
  • Gravel
  • PVC pipe
  • Corrugated Pipe
  • Cement
  • Sump Pump
  • Check Valve
  • J Hooks
  • Increaser
  • Silicone Sealant
  • Fittings

Find The Perfect Location

The first step of installing your pump is to find a spot where the water collects. This should be near Ground Fault Interrupter Outlet (GFCI) so you can plug the pump into it. If you don’t have one of these outlets, you will want a certified electrician come out and install one.

Dig Your Sump Pit

The pit for your sump pump should be about 6 inches deeper than the height of the pump, and 10 inches wider than the pump. Once the hole is dug, put about 3 inches of gravel in the bottom of the pit and then center the pump on top of the gravel.

Add More Gravel

Next continue adding more gravel to the pit. Make sure you leave about one or two inches at the top of the pit free from gravel.

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Attach Adapters

Glue the male PVC pipe adapter to the PVC discharge pipe. Then you will want to place the pipe into the female adapter that’s on the pump. You will need to use a 1/4 inch drill to make a hole in discharge pipe, about 6 inches above the pump.

This hole is called a weep hole. The hole allows water to come back into the pump when the unit is turned off so that it stays primed and ready.

Install Check Valve

Attach the electrical cord for the pump to the discharge pipe using wire ties. Next, install a check valve at the open end of the discharge pipe. The pump will then go into the pit and you will want to prepare to run any water out of the house. The check valve should be made for vertical use.

Create A Path For The Water To Move Away From The House

You will want to use pressurized fittings and 1.5 inch PVC to move the water from the pump to somewhere away from the house.

Run The PVC Through A Wall

You will want to drill a hole through the outside wall. Use J hooks to hang the PVC pipes from the joists. This is where you will need a drill and a hammer to break through the brick or stone of your outside wall.

Add A Sealant Around The Hole

Use a silicone sealant to fill the hole surrounding the pipe protruding from the wall.

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Spread The Water Flow

Attach a 1.5 inch x 3 inch increaser to the end of the pip[e so that the water will spread out. Next, attach a corrugated pipe to dispense the water further.

Cover The Pit

Finally, cover the pump by placing gravel around the pipe. Plug in the pump. Place a cover over your sump pit. That’s it!

Sump Pump Maintenance

In general, sump pumps have an average life span of 10 years. You can make sure it lasts that long by following a basic maintenance routine, done quarterly:

Inspect The Pit

Make sure there isn’t any debris that could hinder the effectiveness of the pump. If you see that there is an “oil slick” on top of the water, your pump is oozing coolant and would need replacing. To do that, unplug the pump and look at the intake of the pump. Clean it as necessary, and do the same with the impeller and weep hole.

Test The Pump

To make sure that your sump pump works properly, you will want to test the pump by adding a couple gallons of water to the pit until the float lifts and the pump turns on. If the float rises too much and it doesn’t turn on, or the switch isn’t activating, then you will want to unplug the pump and check again to make sure there isn’t any debris.

Test-The-Pump

If your pump does work, then look at the discharge pipe to make sure there aren’t any blockages. If the water flow looks slowly, then you may need to snack the pipe to clear blockages.

Check Your A Backup Plan

A sump pump isn’t an infallible object. Sometimes things stop working and the pump won’t work. You can avoid a surprise flood due to a faulty pump by having a backup pump or two. These could be either a water powered pump or a battery powered pump.

Either option will be helpful in protecting your home against flooding. You will want to check the back up in the same manner as your primary.

Maintenance that should be done once a year include:

  • Remove the pump from the pit and clean and inspect.
  • Clean out the pit entirely.
  • Consult the pumps owner’s manual for proper care. The manual will tell you what bearings need lubrication, if any.
  • Put the pump back in the pit.
  • Check the cord to make sure it is in good repair, then plug it back into the outlet.
  • Fill the pit with water until the float turns the pump on. Make proper adjustments if necessary.

Final Thoughts

Our homes are a big investment, that much is for certain. But, they are much more than a place to keep all of your things. It’s a place where you can build memories with your loved ones. It’s a source of refuge after a long day at work. It is a place that is solely your own and you can truly let down your hair.

Keeping your home in good repair is a necessity and one of the easiest ways you can do that is by installing a sump pump in your basement or crawlspace. The pump is designed to remove any excess water that may be found under the house.

The water could be from a heavy down pour, water collecting and seeping in through the soil, or even a flood. Whatever the case may be, the sump pump will prevent your home from water damage, mold and mildew, and even preventing long term damage like rust and rot.

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Choosing a sump pump to install in your home is going to take some research, especially if you aren’t really certain what you should be looking for. We have created a buying guide to help you figure out what is the best sump pump for your specific needs.

In our guide, we break down the important features of the pump and what you should look for. Then, we provide you with five mini-reviews of sump pumps we feel are pretty great.

At the end of the day, protecting your basement against flooding is important and it isn’t something you’ll want to put off for long.

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