What is Sump Pump? | How to Install a Sump Pump?

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is operated to remove water that collects in the water-collecting sump basin.  A sump pump is also known as a drain pump.

A sump pump is usually located in the basement of a house. If the basement is underneath the water table, water can enter the water-collecting basin through channeling inside the basin, drains around the basement waterproofing system, or due to natural groundwater or rain.

sump pump

A sump pump is also known as sewage or drain pump. A sump is a natural pit. This pit is called a basin. It is a hole carved under the basement floor’s main surface.

This type of pump is most commonly utilized in places where overflowing basement problems occur continuously and to resolve the moisture problem when the water level is higher than the house foundation.

These types of pumps pump water from homes to dry wells, urban rainwater pipes, and other areas where problems are no longer an issue.

How does a Sump Pump work?

A sump pump uses a centrifugal force to pull the excess water out of the house from the basement. A sump pump works in the following way:

Sump Pump Working

  • Firstly, the water enters from your home to the basement through a pipe.
  • The pump has a valve that detects the rise in water pressure or level in the basement.
  • As the water level reaches according to the fixed level to start a sump pump, the pump starts automatically.
  • The pump sucks redundant water from the house basement and passes it through the impeller, which increases the water speed. After discharging through the impeller, the water enters into the diffuser, which increases its pressure.
  • After increasing the water pressure, the pump uses a discharge pipe to discharge redundant pressurized water away from your house.
  • The discharge pipe, also called sewage, connects the sump pump to a chosen drainage area.

For a better understanding, watch the below given video:

Read also: Working of Septic Tank

Types of Sump Pumps

The sump pump has the following major types:

  1. Battery-operated backup pump
  2. Pedestal pump
  3. Submersible pump
  4. Water-operated backup pump

1) Submersible Pump

A submersible sump pump has a motor and a pump. It submerges into the water. It is placed in the basement basin. The submersible pumps generate low noise compared to the pedestal pump. These pumps also have low clogging problems than pedestal pumps. 

submersible sump pump

Do you know: How does a Submersible Pump work?

2) Pedestal Pumps

This pump has a separate pump and motor. The pedestal pumps have high clogging and high noise issues—the motor places on the pedestal over the basin. 

Pedestal sump pump

3) Water-powered backup

The water-powered backup removes the water from the basin by increasing the water pressure. The benefit of this system is that no emergency power regulation and no battery changes are required.

Water-powered backup sump pump

4) Battery-operated backup

Battery-backed sum pumps are an excellent step to increase your safety against flood damage.

Battery-operated backup

An emergency power supply with a float switch enables the drain pump to operate when needed most, even in the event of a power failure during a storm. The water in the basin increases, and the float switch is activated to activate the battery.

Why does a Sump Pump Fail?

A sump pump may damage due to inappropriate construction material, lifetime, mechanical, or installation errors. If you want to install the pump yourself, you must have adequate knowledge about its installation procedure.

If you want to save some money by installing the pump yourself and installing it inaccurately, you will lose your money in flooding, and you may face more worse issues in future. The pump failures can also cause due to continuous cycling, switches that become stuck OFF or On. The sump pump most commonly has a service life from 7 to 10 years.   

Signs you May Need Sump Pump Replacement or Repair

Following are some symptoms that a faulty sump produces. If you observe the below-given symptoms in your sump pump, it is a high chance that your pump has been damaged and needs to be replaced.  

1) High Noise

Your pump’s excessive noise represents to damaged or worn components—a sump pump most commonly produced unexpected noise due to impeller damage or motor bearings failure.

If your pump produces grinding or rattling noise, it may be due to a damaged or jammed impeller. As you observe excessive noise from your pump, you should immediately call a technician to fix it. Otherwise, the noise due to minor damage may cause your pump failure.

2) Excessive Vibration

The impeller of the sump pump can damage or bend due to the suction of solid debris. The impeller is balanced to lessen wear on the rotating shaft. As it is damaged or bent, it will be unstable and put stress on the shaft.

Due to the impeller’s unbalancing, the pump makes noise. If this unbalancing is not fixed quickly, it may damage various parts of the pump or lead to pump failure.  Therefore, you need to identify the reason for vibration and need to fix it as soon as possible for proper pump operation.

3) Infrequent Pump Usage

As with car batteries, restricting the use of sump pumps shortens their lifespan. By regular testing the pump in heavy rain, you can identify the problems of your pump early and support the internal mechanisms of the equipment.

4) Irregular Cycling

Frequent switching on and off of the drain pump, even in heavy rain, indicates a problem with the pump. This can be as simple as a misaligned float switch, and the pump may also start when the basin is filled with only a few inches of water.

Poor wiring can also cause the pump to turn on and off at irregular intervals. A short circuit in the electric system of a house or equipment will cause the pump to start or stop from time to time.

5) Visible Rust

The brown stuff on the pump body may form due to the corroded terminal of the battery, but in some cases, the discoloration is caused by bacteria. It is known as an iron bacterium due to its color, and it will eat iron in the water and cause discoloration. In many situations, gel-like substances may clog pipes such as sump pumps.

Iron oxidizing bacteria are not harmful to human health, but they can generate issues for the flow of water from sewage systems.

6) Seven Years Old or Older

Regardless of the sump pumps cleaning or maintenance, these pumps won’t last forever. If it’s over 7 years old, then replace it. Through regular cleaning of the pump, you can increase the service life of your pump.

Sump Pump Maintenance

When the spring air begins to cool your house, the winter floor starts to melt due to the warm temperatures and becomes saturated with the new rainy season. The rainwater from the spring rain is not easily absorbed by the earth. The next place for this type of water is the basement. At this stage, the sump pump is very useful!

The average life cycle of the pump is approximately 10 years. The proper maintenance of the sump pump is compulsory for its proper working. You should perform a proper inspection once a year.

Follow the following steps for the maintenance of your pump:

1) Remove Sump Basin Debris

You must check your sump pump pit to ensure it doesn’t contain debris. If there is any debris, you must remove it immediately so that your pump can’t face any severe problem in the future due to the presence of debris.

Sometimes, some debris unintentionally goes into the pit, like children’s small toys and debris from objects kept in the basin. Be sure to fill the pits with water to improve the stop and start functionality of the pump as the pump is original to perform work. Therefore, it is better to clean the pump every 3-4 months.

2) Check Valve Inspection

In some cases, the check valve of the drain pump may not be installed properly. Due to this, the backflow of water to the sump or drain pump will be started when it is closed. The check valve plays an important role in the water flow. It stops the backflow of water.

Therefore, during the sump pump installation, the arrow on the check valve must not point toward the pump so that water backflow issues can’t appear.

3) Clean the Weep Hole

Some types of sump pumps have a drain or weep hole installed between the check valve and the sewage pump. Clean this hole with something like a toothpick. Beware not to break or fall something into an actual weep hole. It is best to clean the weep hole every 3-4 months.

4) Smell for a Sump Pump Odor

If you do not properly maintain your house’s basin, it will start producing an unpleasant smell. This unpleasant smell most commonly appears from the sump pump trap. The pump traps always have some water, but if the water doesn’t move into the basin during the dry period, you may start to face an unpleasant smell or odor.   

Don’t worry; you can easily remove this smell by following below given steps:

  • Clean the basin with a mixture of bleach and water. An excellent concoction is ​​a mixture of 5 parts water to 1 part bleach.
  • You can also get rid of the unpleasant odor by filling the basin with water until the pump starts to circulate the water.
5) Inspection of Power and Install a Backup Power Source

You must inspect the power cords and cords connection with the pump after every 3-4 months. In the event of a strong storm, the sump pump catches up with the drainage of large amounts of water. A power failure leads to the drain pump failing and flooding the basement. Therefore, you must have a backup power generator with your pump.

The backup generator can supply the drain pump with the energy it needs to circulate all of the excess water. This backup power system may connect to your house’s water delivery system to deliver the power required to drive the pump. Therefore, you must invest in an emergency power system to prevent the basement from flooding.

6) Impeller Cleaning

An impeller is the most important component of the pump that helps to drain water from the basement to out of your house. It is a small filter that is easy to clog and needs to be screwed onto the pump.

If the sump pump unexpectedly stops working or continues to make unexpected noise, this could cause the impeller to clog. Just clean it in such a way that the pump starts working like new.

How to install a Sump Pump

The installation of a sump pump can be done by the below-given method:

sump pump installation

  1. First of all, find the basement’s lowest point (usually the zone where you first observe moisture build-up).
  2. After finding the lowest point, now dig a deep and wide hole in such a way that the sump pump (its top edge should eventually line up with the ground) can easily accommodate in it.
  3. The most efficient sump pump has a weep hole that permits water to move into the pump from the bottom and sides.
  4. If your pump doesn’t contain weep holes, make them yourself with the help of a drill machine.
  5. After making weep holes, cover a layer of fabric filters around the outside of the basin to stop sediment and mud from blockage the basin.
  6. Add a few inches of gravel to the hole’s base that you made and put paving stones or rough stones on top of these pebbles to create a firm platform. After this, install the pump in the hole and fill it with the excavated soil.
  7. For the sump pump to work properly, its float valve should work perfectly by moving freely upward and downward.
  8. As the water level reaches according to the targeted level, the float valve must move up and send a signal to the pump for the start-up. In this way, the pump automatically starts to discharge the excess water after receiving a signal from the float switch. Therefore, it is important to test the float valve before proceeding with the operation. Move it up and down by hand to ensure there are no obstacles. After passing the pipe by the hole, insert the pipe to fill the space of any size.
  9. At last, insert the pump cord into the power circuit and test its working. Almost fill the top of the basin with water. The float valve must go up, the pump must turn on after receiving the signal by the float valve, and the water must be pumped out. Check connections for leaks. If everything is okay, cover the basin with its lid.

How to Repair a Sump Pump?

There are multiple reasons for the damage or failure of the sump pump. Similarly, the sump pump repair is different for different damages. Below given are some steps through that you repair different parts of a sump pump:

  1. Power connection inspection: First of all, you need to check the power connection with your sump pump. Sometimes, a pump doesn’t work due to an improper connection with the power source. Therefore, inspect the connection and make sure it is connected properly.
  2. Sump Pit inspection: Inspect the sump pit for debris because sometimes, debris generates clogging problems and jams the pump impeller due to that sump pump doesn’t work. This may cause pump failure. Therefore, if there is debris in the sump pit as soon as possible. Regular cleaning of the sump pit is very important if you want proper working of your pump.
  3. Discharge Pipe inspection for Leaks: Properly inspect your pump discharge pipe and if there is any leakage, try to fix this leakage as soon as possible. This is because, due to leakage, your pump will be unable to work properly, and also water can also start to flow back into your basement.
  4. Inspect to your Pump Impeller: Sometimes, a sump pump stops operation due to the impeller clogging. The clogging issues may bend or damage the impeller, which can lead to the complete failure of your sump pump. Therefore, as impeller damage due to clogging, you should immediately replace your pump impeller for your pump to work properly.
  5. Clear the Weep Hole: The sump pump may also stop working due to clogging of the weep hole. If your pump also has a weep hole and it has been clogged, you need to clean it immediately.
  6. Product Defect: Your sump pump also can’t work properly due to a bad pump. In such a situation, you need to replace your pump with a high-quality pump.
  7. Inspect to Float Valve: Sometimes, the pump stops working due to failure or worn-out of the float valve. A float valve is a part of the pump which moves up and down. As the water level reaches according to the fixed water level, this valve sends a signal to the sump pump for the start-up. Due to the failure of this valve, the pump couldn’t receive the proper signal by it and stops working.
  8. Test the Pump: After inspecting all parts, you need to test your sump pump by running it. Put the plug of the pump into a power source and check it’s working.

How to Select a Sump Pump

The proper selection of a sump pump is very important if you don’t want to face worse issues in the future regarding your pump. Following are some important tips that you must keep in mind before buying a sump pump:

  • You must choose a drain pump made of good material. Therefore, you buy a pump made of cast iron instead of plastic. This is because the cast iron assists in removing heat into the environmental water, which increases the pump service life.
  • If your basin has enough space, you must buy a submersible pump instead of a pedestal pump.  This is because a submersible pump has low working noise, provides a facility to cover the sump pit with a lid and stops debris from entering into the pit. 
  • Choose a pump that has an alarm and backup system. Such a pump will help to resolve future issues. 
  • Choose an automatically operated sump pump instead of a manual pump. The automatic pump will start working itself as it will receive a signal from the float switch. In contrast, if you choose a manually operated pump, you would have to do all the things manually (such as pump On and OFF) to remove the excess water from your basement.
  • For minimizing the possibility of clogging, the pump must have a no-screen suction pattern and an impeller that can control solids approximately 0.5 inches in diameter.

How Much Does a Sump Pump Cost?

The cost of a sump pump varies according to the area where you live, the brand you choose, and the pump type.

The sump pump average cost is around $260. This cost varies between $145 and $400, and in some cases, it may be higher.   

If you hire a technician for the installation of your pump, he/she will also charge $90 to 250$ for his/her service. In this way, the total cost for the installation of a sump pump becomes from $350 to $510$.

If you didn’t install a sump pump in the past, you would need to dig a hole for the sump pit. In this way, the total cost for installing a sump pump will become from $740 to $1100.

In simple words, the installation cost totally depends on your living area and the type of the pump. The minimum cost for the installation of a sump pump can be $140, and the highest cost can be $1600.  

Do you know: What is Septic Tank pumping cost?

FAQ Section

What is a Sump Pump is used for?

A sump pump uses to remove water from your house’s basement. It uses a discharge pipe to remove water away from your house. It keeps dry to your basement.

What is the alternative to a sump pump?

The most famous alternative to a sump pump is a French drain.  When the water level increases, the French drain passively drains water from the house basement instead of actively pumping water out of the basin. This assists in meeting the demand for sump pumps.

Do sump pumps need maintenance?

Yes, the sump pumps require regular maintenance for proper working. If you do not do its maintenance properly, your pump will fail, and you may face flooding issues into your house basement.

Why would someone install a sump pump?

The main purpose to install a sump pump is to keep dry the Crawlspace or basement. As the water is collected into the pit, the pump automatically starts and discharges it away from your house through a discharge pipe. 

Do you know:
  1. Different Types of Pumps
  2. How does a Septic Tank work?

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