Does Your Home Need A Sump Pump?

Marwa Hasan
Written by Marwa Hasan
Updated June 18, 2021
home basement sump pump
IcemanJ / iStock / Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

If your basement has a flooding problem or you live in an area that is susceptive to rainfall or snow, a sump pump is a sound investment

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Nobody wants to deal with a flooded basement. While waterproofing is essential, it’s not enough to protect your basement and all of its precious memories from any flooding emergencies. Luckily, a sump pump is key to eliminating water and moisture and leaving your basement good and dry.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a device that drains flooding water in the basement before it does any damage to your property. This trusty device has many benefits for your home, as it eliminates moisture and prevents flooding. 

Installing a sump pump can come in handy as it protects the basement floors from cracking and shifting from any standing water. It will also keep the basement dry and less humid, preventing mold, mildew, or any potential health problems.  

How Does a Sump Pump Prevent Basement Flooding?

A sump pump pit is dug at the lowest point of the basement floor to pump out excess water and take it away from your home and its foundation. Here’s how it works to prevent flooding in the basement. 

  • Weeping tiles collect groundwater flowing under the basement floor and drain it into your sump basin, a small pit in the basement floor with a few holes connecting pipes and lines, which collects and expels excess water.

  • When groundwater accumulates in the basin and reaches a certain level, the sump pump activates the switch by a pressure sensor or a float valve.

  • Powered by electricity, an impeller inside the pump draws water out of the basin to a discharge pipe.

  • The discharge pipe drains water outside of the house and into the storm drain to prevent flooding damage.

Do You Need a Submersible or Pedestal Sump Pump?

Sump pumps come in different types: submersible and pedestal sump pumps. Each has its own pros and cons, and which one you should install in your home depends on your unique needs.

Submersible Sump Pump

  • Requires a larger sump pit that is covered with an airtight lid.

  • Motor operates by being entirely submerged in water at the bottom of the pit.

  • More powerful but more expensive than pedestal pumps.

  • It operates more quietly because it’s underwater, so it won't disturb any movie nights in your finished basement.

  • Lasts for 10 years (a shorter life span when compared to the pedestal sump pump).

Pedestal Sump Pump

  • Fits narrow and shallow pits—great for smaller basements.

  • The motor shouldn’t get wet, so it sits above water level outside of the pit.

  • Maintenance and repairs are more convenient on pedestal pumps as they’re easier to access.

  • Pedestal sump pumps are more affordable, but they’re less powerful than submersible units. 

  • Has a longer lifespan (25-30 years) than the submersible pump.

  • This kind of a sump pump can be noisy so it’s a better fit for basements that rarely see guests.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Having a Sump Pump?

Although a sump pump can be incredibly useful, it’s also important to learn all the facts before installing one.

Pros of Sump Pumps

  • It’s the most effective way to expel water from the foundation by keeping the basement or crawlspace dry in wet conditions.

  • Basement waterproofing is necessary but with wear and tear, it might not be enough to protect your belongings. In the case of flooding or severe storms, water can still leak through cracks or the joints between the floor and the wall. A sump pump gets rid of all the water and leaves your basement dry.

Cons of Sump Pumps

  • The sump pump runs on electricity. It’s important to have a battery or water backup system so water doesn’t damage the engine or flood the basement during power outages.

  • It’s not exactly pretty. The sump pump has an exposed pit with pumps coming from the ground. Fortunately, there are ways to hide it—especially if you have a finished basement. A cabinet around the sump pump, a raised stage, or flooring will keep it out of sight.

  • The hole in the concrete floor can cause radon gas to leak from the soil to your home. Radon exposure is dangerous for you and your family when it reaches hazardous levels. Be sure to test your home for radon regularly.

When Should You Consider Installing a Sump Pump in Your Basement?

 If you can relate to the following situations, hiring a pro familiar with flooding to install a sump pump will help prevent future water damage and save you money.

You Struggle With Past Flooding Issues

High basement moisture levels will happen if your house is:

  • In a flood-prone area, near a water body that rises regularly

  • On a flat plot of land with a poor yard drainage

  • On a low-lying plot below the local water table

  • Surrounded by hills

You Live in a Region With Heavy Rainfall or Melting Snow 

Groundwater will likely rise to the level of your basement floor, especially during spring, making a sump pump a great investment to keep everything safe and dry.

You Have a Finished Basement

Even if your home isn’t in a high-risk location, some plumbing emergencies in the basement, like a broken pipe or backup water from the drain can cause damage. Protecting your property with an affordable sump pump can give you peace of mind. A local sump pump installer can also advise you on the best sump pump for your situation. 

Are Sump Pumps Difficult to Maintain?

Sump pumps are quite easy to maintain. There are a few steps you can do yourself to ensure the sump pump is in working condition, especially before spring with snowmelt, during storm seasons, or when heavy rainfall is in the forecast.

  • Clear any debris and make sure there is no clogging that could lead to a water backup. Be sure to clean it every three-four months.

  • Test your sump pump several times a year by pouring water into the pit to ensure that it works.

  • Make sure the pipes are properly fastened.

  • Check the vent hole for any blockages that could prevent water from flowing through the outlet pipe.

  • Follow the owner’s manual for any further instructions.

If maintenance fails, then it’s time to replace your sump pump.

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