Sump Pump Types and Maintenance
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Sump Pump Types and Maintenance

Sump pumps are an important part of a basement drainage system unless your property has a steep grade that allows the water to drain off naturally or you do not have a ground water problem. There are three types of sump pumps available for you to use in your basement. Proper placement and maintenance of your sump pump is important in keeping your basement dry and reducing the chance for mold and water damage. This article will describe the damage a wet basement can do to your home, the different sump pumps available, how various sump pump types operate, and proper maintenance and testing to ensure that they function properly when water enters the sump pit. Emergency back-up and sump pump replacement is also discussed.

Sump pumps are an important part of a basement drainage system unless your property has a steep grade that allows the water to drain off naturally or you do not have a ground water problem. Most people who live in single family homes utilize a sump pit and pump to collect water from around the foundation and discharge it to the exterior of the home. In most cases the sump pump is an afterthought until there is power outage or heavy rains. There are three types of sump pumps available for you to use within your home basement. Two are electric models, one is water powered.

Sump Pump Benefits

Keeps the water out of your basement, lowers the humidity level in your home, and gives you a dryer basement.

Keeps fungus, mold and mildew at bay.

Gives you a cleaner, healthier home.

Keeps your foundation safe and intact.

Prevents warping of floors, floorboards, wallboards, and paint and wall coverings.

Sump Pump Types

Pedestal – A pedestal sump pump is an electric pump that stands upright with the motor at the top. The motor itself is not meant to get wet. The pump has a float-activated switch that turns on when the water rises and reaches a certain level. This type of sump pump is common in home basements where flooding and water drainage is an issue. They are usually less expensive than other models, and are noisier than submersibles.

 

Pedestal Sump Pump

Submersible – Submersible sump pumps are electric pumps that are installed directly into the sump pit liner and are designed to work underwater. They use the same float-activated switch technology as the pedestal pumps, though because they are underwater, they tend to be quieter. They also tend to have a longer life because theirs motors are sealed and protected from moisture and dust.

Water-Powered – A water-powered pump runs off the water pressure from your home plumbing system using the same float-activated switch design. These pumps handle water drainage at a comparable rate to the electric styles, yet require no electricity for operation. This makes them ideal backup systems to their electric counterparts.

Basement and Sump Pump Facts

  • Basement flooding is typically caused by water building up in the soil, and seeping into the basement. A sump pump is placed at the lowest level of the basement, and pumps the water out and away from the home before the water level reaches the basement floor level.
  • Sump pumps are usually installed for two reasons; the basement is located in an area where frequent flooding may be a problem; the water table is equal or above the foundation of the home.
  • Sump pumps can be hardwired into a home’s electrical system or plugged into a GFCI receptacle; either electrical connection may have a battery backup system installed in the event of a power outage. Some installations may have a standard sump pump and a water-powered sump pump as the backup.
  • It’s important to maintain your sump pump by inspecting the operation periodically, especially before heading into a wet season. Remove the sump pump cover and slowly pour water into the tank. The float should begin to rise, triggering the pump to start. Once the pump starts, the water level should quickly disperse. The pump should turn off once the water has been cleared.
  • Most problems associated with sump pumps stem from the float. If the pump does not start, the float may be stuck within the tank. Start by repositioning the float. If this fails, the float may need to be replaced. If the pump fails to shut off after the water has drained, that also signifies the need for a new float. Some units have a float that is integral to the pump while others may have an add-on or “tether” float that is plugged into the receptacle and then the pump is plugged into the float. This way the float operates like a switch and only provides power to the pump when the float is raised.

Vertical Float Switch

Tether Float Switch

Testing your Sump Pump

Using a bucket of water, pour water through the sump hole. The pump is equipped with an automatic switch that senses when water reaches a certain level. Once the float reaches this point, the sump pump will turn on and begin clearing out most of the water from the pit, shutting off once the water drops below the shut off point. Some vertical float switches can be adjusted to come on and shut off at varying levels; tether floats typically activate when the top of the float is an upright position and shut off when the top is pointing down.

If the sump pump doesn’t automatically turn on as the water rises, start by checking your power source. If the power is on and functioning, the float switch may have failed and in need of replacement. If the pump works properly, allow it to run its cycle.

Once the water has cleared, unplug the sump pump and feel the bottom of the pump to make sure there is no foreign material or sludge blocking the intake screen of the sump pump.

If you need to replace your existing sump pump you can replace it yourself, or contact a local plumber to select a replacement or upgrade to better suit your basement drainage requirements.

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Comments (2)

I've lived in homes where the basements flooded.  Not fun.

Excellent work Daniel.

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