What is a Sump Pump?

by | Feb 26, 2020 | Blog | 0 comments

Basement flooding is one of a homeowner’s worst nightmares. Sump pumps protect homes from rising waters and heavy rains that create structural damage and high repair bills. It’s crucial to know which type of pump meets your needs. In this guide, we’ll show how sump pumps work, how they work, and how to select the right one for any home.

How Do Sump Pumps Work?

In simple terms, sump pumps move water from the basement out of the home. A sump is a pit carved below the basement floor’s main surface, and it holds the pump. The sump pump’s valves sense increases in water levels or pressure, and when the water rises too high, it automatically removes the excess through an effluent or discharge line. This line connects the pump to an appropriate drainage area.

Where Should the Pump’s Drainage Area Be?

The water removed by a sump pump is typically routed to a dry well, pond, creek, or nearby sewer drain. It’s important not to set the drain point in a way that allows water to return to the home. Ideally, the pump should be kept at least 10 to 20 feet away from the home’s foundation. Some cities’ building codes determine where sump pumps can drain, so it’s best to consult with a local government agency. It may be necessary to attach extended drainage hoses and compensate for the additional length by increasing the sump pump’s horsepower.

What is a Submersible Sump?

A submersible pump contains the motor and pump in a single unit that sits submerged in the basin. Because these pumps are fully submerged, they’re quiet, they save space, and become clogged less often. However, because of the damaging effects of submersion, these pumps may not last as long as some others. Submersible sump pumps are a great option for homes in high-risk flooding areas.

How Do Pedestal Pumps Work?

Unlike submersible pumps, pedestal sump pumps consist of separate parts. The pump motor is on an elevated pedestal, with a line running to the pump within the basin. The pump routes water through that line and out to the drainage area. Because the pump’s motor isn’t submerged, it may last longer than other units and it’s easier to maintain. This convenience comes at a high cost, though; a pedestal pump may be louder and bigger than a submersible pump.

Battery-Operated Backups

A sump pump with a battery backup is an excellent way to provide extra protection from water damage. A backup and float switch allows the pump to work even during a storm-related power outage. As the water rises into the basin, the float switch is activated, and the battery backup does its job by turning the pump on.

Water-Powered Backups

Water-powered backups use elevated water pressure to remove water from the basin. A water-powered system has one distinct advantage: there is no need to replace batteries or observe the backup. However, the increase in water usage will bring higher utility bills, and these backups are prohibited in some cities.

Which Type of Pump is Best for the Home?

Choosing a pump is an important step in keeping a home secure. Choose a unit with enough power to handle expected water levels. If you choose a pump with less power than needed for your area, there may still be a significant flood risk. Conversely, buying a pump that’s more powerful than necessary causes rapid on-off cycling and diminishes the unit’s lifespan.

If you’re living in an area with average rainfall levels, a one-third horsepower pump may be enough. However, if the home is in a flood plain or requires a faraway drainage point, a one-half horsepower pump may be a better choice. Finally, if the pump is used in a commercial or outdoor setting, a 13000 GPH unit is recommended.

Pump Switch Types

Some pumps operate on switch systems that allow for independent usage. Even though they serve the same purpose, all switches work differently. Below is a list of the most common switch types and an explanation of how they work.

  • Pressure switches sense water pressure and turn the pump on at a certain level.
  • Float switches sit on the water’s surface. As water levels rise, the switch does as well, until the pump turns on.
  • Diaphragm switches become concave as pressure rises and convex as it drops. These switches are common because they rarely become stuck in an off or on position.
  • Electronic switches work by sensing water pressure in the basin. As water pressure rises, the switch is activated.

Pump Accessories

When installing sump pump products, there are quite a few add-ons to consider. Accessories such as water alarm attachments notify homeowners when pumps fail, preventing unnecessary water damage. Discharge hoses make it easier to create faraway drainage points, protecting the home and its foundation. An installer can recommend the right accessories for any pump.

Pump Costs

Generally, submersible pumps are priced based on flow rate and horsepower. Commercial-grade sump pumps typically come at a higher cost. Here are a few considerations to make when budgeting for a home pump.

  • Type: The kind of pump a homeowner chooses largely determines the cost of installation and usage. Factors such as construction materials, horsepower, size, features, and switch type all affect a pump’s cost.
  • Basement construction: A basement floor plays a crucial role in determining the cost of pump installation. If the floor is made of concrete, it must be removed at the lowest point. The thicker the slab is, the higher the labor cost will be.
  • Drainage: If city codes require a faraway drainage point, extension hoses and drain lines will increase the job’s cost. Furthermore, these features may freeze or pose other hazards.
  • Permitting: The cost to obtain the necessary permits will differ based on location, and it should be considered beforehand.
  • Hiring a professional installer: Though a DIY installation will decrease the cost of the job, it’s a risky proposition for those who don’t know what they’re doing. If you’re unsure, it’s best to hire someone who’s licensed to perform installations and sump pump inspections. Though it increases the job’s cost, it’s still cheaper than repairing flood damage.

Is It Necessary to Install a Basement Pump?

In areas prone to flooding, sump pumps are a necessity. Whether floods come after an above-average rainy season or the home’s basement is beneath the water table, water damage is disastrous for the home and the family’s health. Even if the rest of the home doesn’t flood, excess moisture may lead to the growth of several kinds of mold that cause allergic reactions, asthma, and respiratory problems. If there’s no way to get water out of the home, damage and illness are inevitable.

If the home’s basement is finished and is used as a living space, you’ll likely benefit from the usage of a pump. A well-maintained pump protects the carpet, walls, and furniture from mold and moisture damage. However, if the basement is used for storage but is unfinished, it’s still a good idea to install a pump.

Why Would a Pump Fail?

Sump pumps fail for several reasons, the most common of which are age, mechanical problems, and installation errors. If you’re installing a pump yourself, take some time to learn about the process before starting. The money saved with a DIY job is insignificant compared to the amount that may be lost when the basement floods due to improper installation. Furthermore, mechanical errors may arise when switches get stuck or the pump power-cycles rapidly. Like all other machines, sump pumps have a finite lifespan. Depending on usage and maintenance patterns, a home pump may last seven to 10 years.

Water damage leads to more homeowner’s insurance claims than theft and fire combined. The average cost to repair a flooded basement is approximately $43,000. Most home insurance providers ask if homes have sump pumps and backup power systems. Though sump pumps are sometimes costly, they’re an investment in the safety and security of the home.

If you’re not sure which type of pump to use, it’s best to seek professional advice. With help from Boulden Brothers, any homeowner can find the right pump for their needs, their home, and their budget. When sump pumps are properly installed and serviced, they provide years of flood protection and reassurance.

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