The Ultimate Sump Pump Guide

In many homes, sump pumps are the last line of defense against leaks, damaged foundations, and even minor floods. Most US residential homes use a sump pump system to remove excess moisture below grade, making basements, cellars, and crawl spaces viable in many parts of the country.

In this guide to sump pumps, we’ll cover everything you need to know about this handy device.

First, What Is a Sump Pump?

The purpose of a sump pump system is to prevent flooding by collecting water from outside your home’s foundation and giving it a place to pool. A sump pump is a relatively small electric pump installed at the lowest point of your home, typically in the basement or crawl space. The other key component of the system is the sump basin, which is a dedicated well or pit.

How Does a Sump Pump Work?

Water collects in the sump basin, which serves as an open-topped tank. The various parts of a sump pump all work together to move water from the sump basin away from the home.

So, what does a sump pump do with the water?

Excess water is pumped out of the basin and redirected in one of three ways:

  1. Drainage – Homes with enough property and a little elevation can position the sump pump’s discharge point so that water runs downhill and away from the home.
  2. Dry well – Dry wells are deep holes usually dug far enough away from the home that sump pump water redirected from the home won’t seep back toward the foundation.
  3. Storm drains – In some cases, homes redirect sump pump water to a nearby municipal storm drain.

If you’re unsure how your sump pump works or are having issues, contact your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for expert sump pump installation, maintenance, and repair.

A Guide to Sump Pump Parts

In addition to the sump pump basics, the pump itself is composed of several universal parts. Most sump pump parts are replaceable, which means an experienced plumber can repair the pump and save homeowners money.

Meet the heroes of your sump pump system:

The Sump Pump

The star of the show! As the name suggests, this is a pump that sits inside the basin and removes water from the basin and out of the home. There are two types of sump pumps:

  • Submersible sump pumps sit under the water level, which makes them the quieter option. They tend to be smaller and have a lower pumping capacity, making them an excellent option for homes in climates with less rainfall or lower water tables.
  • Pedestal sump pumps sit above the water level, which allows them to have larger motors and greater pumping capacity. Pedestal sump pumps do tend to be louder than submersible pumps, but for homeowners with flood-prone basements, a little extra noise is a solid trade-off for additional capacity.

The Sump Pump Float Switch

Sometimes referred to as simply “the float,” the float switch sits in the basin and activates the sump pump when water levels rise above a pre-determined height. When the pump works long enough to lower water levels, the float switch turns off the pump.

The Sump Pump Discharge Pipe

Drainage-based sump pump systems rely on a dedicated drainage pipe to direct excess water away from the home. While downhill drainage is ideal, homes on level terrain can still use a drainage pipe. This requires using a pipe long enough to mitigate the risk of water simply seeping back toward the foundation.

The singular “pipe” is actually misleading. Depending on the size of the home, terrain, soil composition, and other factors, there may be several pipes of different lengths installed, with the sump pump’s dedicated pipe connected to nearby pipes.

The Sump Pump Check Valve

Not all sump pumps have a check valve, but they’re a handy addition to any system. Check valves are installed inside the discharge pipe and prevent water from flowing back into the sump basin. Check valves are designed to prevent backflow that can occur during power outages, drainage pipe blockages, or outdoor flooding.

The Sump Pump Alarm

Just like a septic tank alarm, sump pump alarms notify homeowners of a sump pump malfunction or high water levels overrunning the system. If your alarm goes off, call your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for professional assistance; we’ll get your sump pump back in action in no time!

Sump Pump FAQs

Homeowners ask a lot of questions about sump pumps, and with good reason. Like so many home plumbing elements, most people don’t think about sump pumps until there’s a problem. Here are the answers to common questions we get about sump pumps.

How much does a sump pump cost?

Most sump pumps cost between $150 and $400, with higher-priced models usually offering increased pumping capacity. Sump pump installation costs depend on the condition of the existing sump pump system. Contact your local Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for a personalized quote.

How long do sump pumps last?

Most sump pumps last 5-10 years, and many models come with a one- or two-year warranty. The operating lifespan of your device will vary based on the initial build quality, regularity of maintenance, and frequency of use.

What capacity sump pump do I need?

Trust an experienced plumber to recommend the right size sump pump. There are a few factors that dictate your capacity needs, including:

  • Basement and home size (larger homes will need a larger pump)
  • Rainfall rates
  • Local water table

Pumps range from 1,000 to 3,500 gallons per hour (GPH) for homes in rainy climates or on a high water table. Choosing an oversized pump won’t impact performance, but an undersized pump could lead to backups and floods during high-water events.

Get Sump Pump Support from the Pros

Homeowners rely on sump pumps to keep their homes dry and comfortable. When pump failure means a flooded basement, there’s no margin for error. That’s why they trust Benjamin Franklin Plumbing for punctual, professional sump pump repairs and maintenance. Our trained, friendly technicians make time to explain our work, so you know your home inside and out. Find a location near you or call 1-877-BEN-1776 today!