How to Use a Sump Pump

Rajib Singha Apr 29, 2019
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Here are a few DIY tips on how to use a sump pump to keep your basement or crawlspace bone dry, and you and your house out of trouble.
Having a basement is a great addition to any house, considering the space it provides to store various stuffs, which may come in handy later. But everything comes with a price. And in this case, it is basement flooding. A space such as basement, always remains vulnerable to become a pit of water.
This may be caused due to water seepage from heavy rains, or underground water, especially when the basement's level is lower than that of the water table. And having a basement flooded with water is not a nice feeling to have. About 60 percent of American homes suffer this problem of basement flooding.
A basement does not have to be completely flooded to burn holes in the pocket of the house owner. And more important than this is the increased risk of mold or mildew growth in the moist basement. This could get uglier once mosquitoes start finding their way in and find that a heaven of stand still water lies ready for them to reproduce.
Nasty, isn't it? But there is no reason to despair. The sump pump is a tool with the help of which you can keep your basement dry and prevent it from flooding.

What is a Sump Pump?

As the name suggests, this device is a small pump which has to be installed in the lowest level of a basement. The main job of this machine is to draw water that has accumulated in the basement, and direct it through a hose away from the house, to places such as municipal storm drain or a dry well.
To make this process work efficiently, it is recommended to construct a pit in the basement (known as sump pit), and it is there that this device should be installed. So once the water starts collecting in the pit, the sump pump pumps water out of the pit and direct it away to a place where it would not cause any problems.

Which One to Choose?

A sump pump comes in two types; submersible and pedestal. The former type has a motor that is designed specifically to be kept submerged underwater, and function as it is required to. This type of a pump is usually installed in the sump pit itself. It has a waterproof housing, with the pump touching the bottom, and the outlet pipe located near the top.
The latter type, that is the pedestal sump pump, is located outside the pit. It is not meant to be submerged underwater as in the case of the above one. So it works with the help of an inlet pipe that extends to the bottom of the sump sink and draws water out.

Using A Sump Pump

There are some factors to be considered before making an investment on a sump pump, and using the same. These factors include:
  • The volume of water to be moved; for a basement that gets flooded with a large volume of water, needless to say, the machine must be of a higher horsepower. Pumps that are commonly used have a hp that ranges from 0.33 to 0.50 hp.
  • Automatic or manual; if you think you can turn on and off the machine when required, then a manual sump pump is what you can go for. Otherwise, an automatic one could be a good buy, if you suppose that you may not always make it on time to switch on the pump once you sense danger of flooding.
  • If you are getting one that runs on electricity, and it would always stay near a water source, it is better to take adequate steps to prevent any electric-mishaps. Having a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) on the outlet, would be good enough for the purpose.
  • The pump's head pressure; head pressure, in this sense, is defined as the height till which the pump can raise water out of the sump pit and direct it to the outlet pipe.
Having determined the given factors, all you have to do is install the device yourself, or seek for the help of a professional. After installation, supply power to the device. Ensure that you have the GFIC in place before connecting the device to the power outlet. If your device runs on battery, then ensure that the battery is charged at all times.
Thereafter, for an automatic sump pump, pour some water into the pit, and check if the machine works automatically. And if it is a manual, then you would have to turn it on. When installed properly, the sump pump should start working and keep your basement flooding woes at bay. However, this is not where the job ends.
Maintenance is an important aspect that must never be ignored with any kind of machine. Although, a sump pump is a reliable device as a whole, spending a few minutes with it, every two months is advisable.
Few things that you need to keep in the maintenance checklist include the power circuit that is driving the machine, position of the pump, cleaning of the grate at the bottom of the sump pit in case you are using a submersible pump, the distance you need to move the water, and the vent in the discharge pipe.