A sump pump is a precautionary mechanism, responsible for directing water out of the sump basin which is usually located on or underneath the lowest level of your home. These pumps are especially beneficial to those who live in rainy areas with frequent flooding. But other than removing groundwater intrusion, they can also remove flooding caused by burst pipes.
How sump pumps work
When water begins to accumulate outside your foundation or under your basement floor, it then flows through a drain pipe into your sump basin. Once the water reaches a certain level, your sump pump activates and starts pumping it out.
There are two methods to activate a sump pump:
- Your sump pump may have a sensor which measures the water pressure inside the sump basin. Once the water pressure exceeds a certain level, this sensor activates your sump pump.
- Method two measures the height of the water in your basin. The pump has a float activator arm with an attached buoyant ball floating on the surface of the water. Once the water level reaches a certain height, your sump pump is activated.
Once your pump is activated an impeller inside your pump draws water out of the sump pit through a drain pipe which empties out somewhere beyond your home’s foundations.
Most sump pumps are connected to your home’s electricity supply, while others operate using the water supply. Sump pumps hardwired to your water supply will continue working during power outages, making them a great choice if you live somewhere with a regular storm season. However, some sump pumps which connect to your electrical system have convenient battery backups.
To avoid your sump pump from shutting down due to a severe storm and a power outage, you should invest in a good battery backup system. This will keep your sump pump running through the storm and preventing any potential flooding. Battery backups for your sump pump may be a bit costly, climbing up to a few hundred dollars, however if your pump is hardwired to your electrical system, they are definitely worth the investment.
Types of Sump Pumps
There are two main types of sump pumps: pedestal and submersible.
Submersible sump pumps are typically used when they need to be installed near living areas because they are usually much quieter than their counterpart. They sit at the bottom of the sump and can be submerged in water and are usually installed in the basement of your home.
While submersible pumps are sleeker, they are more expensive and don’t have as long of a lifespan. They’re more prone to failure but can last for up to 15 years
Pedestal sump pumps on the other hand are cheaper to buy but are much noisier. Generally speaking, pedestal pumps last longer than submersible pumps. They’re better suited for sump pits of a smaller diameter. They do not get submerged in water making them more obtrusive, but they’re easier to service, and if properly cared for, can stay functional for up to 30 years.
Just like any other device, you need to care for your sump pumps properly to make it last longer and more efficiently. Regularly maintaining your sump pump includes cleaning it, checking the valve, cleaning the filter and testing it at least once a year. If you suspect your sump pump needs some attention, you should have it looked at and, if need be, repaired as soon as possible, to ensure your sump pump works appropriately in the case of an emergency situation. If your sump pump breaks down, hundreds of gallons of water will very quickly flood your basement, potentially causing serious structural damage. This can result in hundreds if not thousands dollars in repairs, so this is a device you definitely want to give your attention to.
You can keep your sump pump working properly by regularly testing it to check that all parts are still working. To do so, fill a five-gallon bucket with water and slowly pour the water into the sump pump. Check if your sump pump activates once the water reaches the activation line and that it shuts off promptly after enough water is drained out to fall below this line.
Sump pump lines carry water, meaning they can freeze if temperatures drop too low. This usually only happens if your sump pump lines are not buried at the right depth, so if you suspect this may be the case for you, it may be a good idea to have a professional come take a look, before the freezing winter months set in.