How does a Sump Pump Work?

Water in the basement is always an unwelcome surprise. That is why the sump pump is there. It is an incredibly useful tool in case of flooding. However, like many other things, it can fail sometimes. So, what is it and how does it work? And why does it sometimes fail? Whether you are new to sump pumps or just curious, here are a few things that you should know.

What Does a Sump Pump Do?

Typically, a sump pump is in the basement or crawlspace, where flooding is likely to occur. As the word pump would imply, it pumps water away from your house. A sump basin or sump pit connects to a drainage system under your home’s foundation. A submersible sump pump is installed in the basin below the floor and covered with a lid. On the other hand, a pedestal alternative is installed above floor level. The purpose is to keep the low points in your home dry.

How Does it Work?

The first thing you will notice is the sump pit. It is a hole in the floor of your basement or crawlspace over 2 feet deep. When water drains into the basin the pump will turn on and direct the water away from the building. A float or pressure sensor indicates to the pump when it is time to turn on and redirect water. In many pumps, when the motor is on, water flows out through pipes (often using the centrifugal force of a spinning impeller).

Do You Need a Sump Pump?

If you live in an area with heavy rainfall, a sump pump is a necessity. Here in the Midwest, we get enough rain that they should be strongly considered. We also are in an area where snow can rapidly melt, causing a flooding problem. Your house may also be in an area prone to accumulating water. Determine what horsepower you need based on your situation. If you do not need higher horsepower, get a more efficient pump to meet your needs. If you live in an area with ground moisture or have suffered from basement flooding in the past, a sump pump will help protect you. Make sure you know what specs you need for your setup. Look into the horsepower, head pressure, cord length, voltage, and backups, or better yet, have a professional suggest one for you.

What is A Battery Backup?

Storms can knock out your power. Most pumps use your home’s electricity to function from day to day. A battery backup is the best way to ensure that your sump pump will keep working during heavy rains, even when the power goes out. It adds some peace of mind the next time a storm hits.

Maintenance is another good way to make sure your system is ready for melting snow and rain. Plug the sump pump into an adequate power source equipped with ground-fault circuit interrupters. To test whether it is working, pour some water into the pit to make sure it starts and drains. Remove the pump and clean the grate of any blockage (suggested annually). When you put the pump back, make sure it is standing up straight.

Sump pumps are great tools that serve to help homeowners that live in areas prone to ground moisture. Here in the Midwest, we need sump pumps for when the snow starts melting and the rain starts pouring. It is good to know what to expect if you are moving into a home with a sump pump for the first time or installing one for the first time because they can help you tremendously. Give Valley Fire Protection & Plumbing a call to help you install or repair your sump pump. We have plumbers with the know-how to get your sump pump project done!

Related Topics: Residential Plumbing
By: Tom Hartel
I acquired my expertise by directing day-to-day operations of the business for over 20 years. Continuous hard work helped me become a nationally recognized speaker and expert on fire protection, fire sprinklers, special hazards, and plumbing systems. In this blog, I share my knowledge that will hopefully help you make better decisions for your projects.


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