What does a sump pump do?
The basic function of a sump pump is to remove
accumulated water and direct it away from the location.
There are several types of sump pump mechanisms, each with its own set of pros and cons. The one that is best for you often depends on the construction of your home as well as the nature of your water problem.
A pedestal pump is still a fairly common type of pump that used to be popular among homeowners. It is so called because it consists of a motor that is mounted on a pedestal, with the whole assemblage standing about 30 inches high. Pedestal pumps operate on a float switch. This device is a metal rod attached to the pump, which has a float on it. When water comes into the sump pit, it pushes the float upwards and activates the motor. The motor sucks the water through a hose that is attached to the bottom of it and pushes it through another pipe to eject it. Because the motor cannot be under water, the float switch will always be set to come on before water reaches the top of the pedestal.
There are also pumps that are designed for under water use, called submersible pumps. These are about 12 inches high. Because a submersible is placed at the very bottom of the pit, it does not have a hose to suck in the water. Instead, the water is pulled through the bottom of the pump, which is usually covered with a screen to stop debris from entering the pump’s mechanism.
An ejector pump can be useful if you consistently expect a certain amount of debris along with the water. This can happen when your crawlspace is not paved. This pump is usually made of sturdy material such as cast iron and has a larger ejector port than other pumps. While an ejector is more expensive, it will weather the impact from debris that will usually destroy the impeller in a different type of pump.
Basement Sump Pumps
In a typical basement installation, the pump will be located in a sump pit built into the lowest point of your basement and crawlspace. For efficient drainage, the flooring as well as any drainage trenches should be angled to allow the water to flow into the sump pit. Choose the sump pump that is will work best for you. Some factors to consider include cost, the volume of water you expect your pump to handle and the construction of your home.
Once you have determined which type of sump pump is best for you, make sure you buy a pump that is of high quality. Cheaply made pumps can fail to drain your basement properly and cause you to spend more on frequent repairs or replacements. Many sump pump reviews recommend cast iron housing over plastic housing, for both quality and safety reasons. You do not want to be in a situation where the housing breaks and your pump’s electrical components are exposed to water. Be sure to also check the warranty terms before purchasing a pump.
Another issue to consider is where you want your sump pump to eject the water.
Check your state and local laws for permissible locations. In many places, you are not allowed to channel your water into a sewer line. Another option could be discharging the water into a storm drain or into a location in your yard that is sufficiently far from your walls. If using the latter option, be sure that the ground slopes away from your house.
There are many reasons why a sump pump may fail just when you need it the most. Loss of power, an overheating motor and excessive water flow are just some of the circumstances that can put your pump out of commission. Battery backup pumps are good to have on hand if you want to avoid adding basement flooding to the list of problems caused by power outages or extreme weather.
Some types of backup pumps are capable of running either on battery power or through AC power. If the primary pump fails but the power is still on, this kind of backup can continue running off the main power without using up the battery power. Other types of backups only run on battery power, no matter what the cause was for the failure of the primary pump. Think about the risks that are most likely to cause your pump to malfunction when considering what might be the best backup sump pumps for you.
Backup batteries also come in two types. Regular marine batteries that have acid will need you to periodically add water; otherwise, they can become unusable. There are also maintenance-free batteries that are sealed completely and do not need any maintenance from you. Using these can cut down on hassle and ensure that your sump pump battery backup will work when it is most needed.
Replacing a Sump Pump
An integral part of keeping your basement moisture-free is knowing when to replace your sump pump. Watching out for signs of sump pump problems is important if you want to take care of any issues before a real risk of basement flooding arises.
If you had your pump for 10 years or more, chances are that it is close to wearing out. You are probably better off simply replacing it, as it can go at any moment. Another reason to look for immediate replacement is if you have a low-quality or out-of-date pump. These pumps tend to experience frequent issues and to fail unexpectedly, so in most cases it is worthwhile to invest in a new, better pump before any problems arise.
Even with a relatively new, quality pump, watching for trouble signs is a good way to get repairs or replacements done before you are faced with pump failure. Red flags can include excessive noise when operating, failure to turn on, running for more than several minutes at a time and frequent cycling. Some of the issues signaled by these signs have simple fixes, while others may indicate that a replacement is in order.