How Does A Sump Pump Work in a Basement?

Last updated on December 23rd, 2022 | By: Grady Galvez

how does a sump pump work in a basement

What does a sump pump do? And knowing its proper functioning becomes absolutely crucial towards a better care of a home or a building!

As per the reports of the American Society of Home Inspectors- 60 percent or even more homes in America suffer from below-ground wetness. Flooded basements could be the result of not much water and thereby leading to thousands of dollars of destruction.

Not only the flooding, but this could also lead to the growth of mold and mildew and which may result in breathing and health hazards too.

Sump pumps are probably the most common fixtures in many of the homes, primarily which are in low-lying areas. These have proved extremely beneficial where rapid snow melting may cause basements to flood.

Of course, it is the job of a sump pump to pump the water out and direct it away so that the crawl space or basement remains dry. Even the amendments in the U.S. Federal Clean Water Act in 1987, has made the sump-pumps an essential requirement in the homes which are at higher risk of flooding.

How It Works And What If It Stops Performing?

Let us find out more about one of the most essential equipment. Read more and educate more in order to stay afloat when the water’s high……

Pro tip: Choose the right type of sump pump and maintain it well for those emergency situations.

Sump Pump Types:

1. Submersible Sump Pumps

what does a sump pump do

These types of sump pumps contain pumps and motors in a single unit. Since completely submersible in the water basin, these pumps are quieter and save a lot of space in your basement. These clog less than the pedestal pumps and prove an ideal option where flooding is a major concern.

2. Pedestal Sump Pumps

sump pump uses

This is different from a submersible pump as it consists of a separate pump and motor. In pedestal sump pumps the motor tends to sit above the basin on a pedestal, along with a hose running to a basin where the sump pump is positioned. The water is sent to a designated drain area through the hose.

This offers a higher lifespan as the remains above water and the assessment of any maintenance issues also becomes easier. But remember these could be louder and may occupy more space than others.

3. Battery-Operated Backup

what is a sump pump used for

This works well to offer some additional security in case of a flood damage issue. As the name suggests this works even in case of a power outage and when you need it the most. When the power goes, the main source of the pump which provides power also behaves same.

As the water rises in the basin, the float switch gets triggered and at the same time the battery operation gets into action.

4. Water-Powered Backup

how does a water powered sump pump work

The working principle of water powered sump pump is very simple. In this the water is cleared through increased water pressure. While using this kind of pump you need not monitor back-up or replace any batteries. Though some cities have some strict rules as far as the installation of these types of pumps is concerned as they use a lot of water thereby raising the water bills significantly.

Sump Pump Basics

Normally in the lowest portion (basement or crawlspace) of a home or building the sump pumps are located that are designed to prevent flooding which could happen after a heavy rainfall or a storm.

The sump pumps are made to stand in a sump-pit that possesses a hole with a gravel base about 2ft. deep and 18inch wide.

When the pit gets filled with water then the pipes drain away the liquid to a spot/place away from your foundation. There is usually a one-way valve known as the check valve that stops the water from flowing-back into the pit.

Sump pumps tend to turn-on automatically through a pressure-sensor or a float activator. Much pressure is exerted on the sensor by water and this makes the pump to activate while the float activator works similar to the one that’s in your toilet-tank.

Sump Pump Work Diagram

how does a sump pump work diagram

You can either use a manually operated pump (though not that convenient) or an automatic pump if the float-arm or sensor fails at work.

Centrifugal pump is used by a typical home sump-pump. When the motor turns on a fan-like structure known as impeller starts. The water is forced towards the pipe sides as a low-pressure is created at its center. Water rushes filling the void and the spinning action of impeller is pushed out through the pipe.

Domestic sump pumps are powered by electricity and they use a standard household current. You know that the pump is always supposed to be near water, so this is wise to have a GFCI- ground fault circuit interrupter on the outlet for preventing any accidental electrocution.

Sump Pump Maintenance Tips:

It is advised that annual check-up of your sump pump is recommended. The appropriate time is probably winter when you are preparing your home for spring storms. Check it prior to snow and ground thaw to remain confident for tackling what Mother Nature brings.

what does a sump pump do

  • Open it up: Take a thorough look inside the sump pump basin/pit and clear any debris, rocks, or mud to prevent any clogs. If greasy or oily then there might be issues with your pumps motor.

  • Take a closer look: Before checking the inlet screen and impeller unplug your pump and if there is any debris clear it and even check the hose blockage or if its frozen etc.

  • Keep it afloat: Ensure that the float is resting and able to move freely and if it’s no longer floating then may be this isn’t functioning properly.

  • Time to test: Before the final test plug it back and fill the pit with a bucket full of water, and when the switch is flipped then your sump-pump should start to function. Ensure it’s working inside and the water is directed away from home, if not then probably the discharge pipe needs attention.

  • Flush the discharge pipe: It may happen sometimes that the discharge pipe may get rocks or twigs caught in the pipe leading to clogs. In this case you need to run high pressure water or can use a plumbing snake to clear the debris.

If you have a sump pump or planning to buy one then it is recommended that you should check with your American Family Insurance agent for sump pump over flow or sewer back-up coverage.

This will help you to deal with any uncertainties or any unexpected

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. How does a sump pump work in a house?

Ans: Groundwater collects outside your foundation or beneath your underground floor and runs into your sump basin through a drainage pipe. Your sump pump activates when the water level reaches a specified level. When the water volume in your sump pit surpasses a certain level, a pressure sensor sends a signal to your pump.

Q2. Where do sump pumps get water from?

Ans: While the pit and pump are usually straightforward to find, your sump pump also has other components that function to maintain humidity out of your property. The sump pump discharge pipe transports water from the pit to the surface.

Q3. Can you finish a basement with a sump pump?

Ans: Configure a primary sump pump to maintain groundwater away from your basement and safeguard your investment. Basement completion should be done with wall and surface components optimized for below-grade applications.

Q4. Do sump pumps need maintenance?

Ans: Sump pumps, at the very minimum, need yearly maintenance.  However, based on how it’s used, it may require more attention. Be cautious: you’ll need to turn off the sump pump’s electricity before doing anything with it. Some sump pumps require cleaning on a monthly basis.

Q5. How often should a sump pump run during heavy rain?

Ans: In most circumstances, a sump pump will run continuously after heavy rain, often for two or three days in succession. Obviously, during periods of heavy rain, a large number of waterfalls swiftly on the ground’s surface, and that water must go somewhere.