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Should You Install a Sump Pump?

When your basement flooded a few years ago, helpful neighbors went on bucket brigade to bail out the mess. It took a lot of effort and sweat to put things right again.

Since then, you’ve wondered what you might do to keep floods and ground water away from your basement and foundation. You don’t want to repeat the past! So should you install a sump pump or drain tile? After all, you live in a flood-prone area.

Learn Sump System Basics

Even if your neighbors tell you to install a sump pump, you may feel unsure. Sump systems seem complicated. You wonder if they’ll really protect your basement the next time storms rage and waters flow.

Don’t worry-you don’t need to get into product specifics yet. First, learn the basics of sump pump operation. Here’s how a typical system works:

  • Ground water collector – Many flooding problems come from soggy ground that requires a water collecting system. Drainage rocks or tiles buried near your home’s foundation carry groundwater directly to your sump pump.
  • Sump tank – Some waterproofing companies also refer to the sump tank as a pit or basin. Installers put this tank or pit in the lowest part of your basement. Tank construction may involve fiberglass, concrete, tile, steel, or even clay. Most tanks sit two or three feet deep.
  • Pump system – Once water collects in your sump tank, it has to go somewhere. Your pump system moves the liquid out of your tank through pipes or hoses. Pumps turn off when the water’s level drops low enough.
  • Drain outlet – After your pump system carries water away from your basement, it deposits the liquid far away from your home. Ask your waterproofing expert or city officials about building codes, which dictate where the water goes.

Now that you know a little more about how sump pumps operate, you’re ready to move on to sump pump types.

Choose a System Type that Works for Your Situation

Remember, the type of sump pump you need depends on your home’s size, your property’s grading (slope), your flooding risk, and other factors.

Speak to a licensed professional about which pump works best in your situation; however, you can still benefit by reading about basic pump types.


Small size is just one of the reasons people choose submersible pumps for their sump systems. Additionally, submersibles don’t require intake pipes along the basement wall. Instead, submersible has a built-in pump that sucks in water directly from the ground.

Another benefit of a submersible pump involves the protective grate over its face. This grate keeps out dirt, debris, or rocks that might otherwise clog an intake pipe.


Pedestal-style pumps are a common choice for homeowners. The entire pump unit stands around 30″tallfrommotor (top of pedestal) down to pit level. Most pedestal pumps include a float switch that monitors water levels. Once levels reach a certain height, the pump turns on, sending water up a pipe and out of the basement.

Some homeowners prefer this sump pump type to a submersible simply because pedestal pump motors always sit above water and are easier to service.

Variant Pump Types

Although most sump pumps are really some form of a submersible or pedestal pump, homeowners have additional choices:

  • Ejector pumps keep pumping systems clear of small gravel and debris. The ejector feature also prolongs the life of your pump.
  • Sewage pumps-as mentioned earlier-connect your sump pump directly to the city sewer system. These types of pumps are used in sewer backup prevention systems.

It never hurts to shop around for the right sump pump type, model, and price. Your waterproofing representative will know which manufacturers offer the best warranties.

Follow Waterproofing Tips

If you decide on a sump pump system, great. In fact, you may need more than one if your home is large.

However, you should also talk to your waterproofing representative about general waterproofing tips. After all, you may have leaky gutters that feed the flooding risk. If your property slopes toward your foundation, that creates another risk.

When you talk to a specialist, ask whether your home needs a sump pump, or if you might do okay with a French drain instead. If your patio slopes toward the foundation, you may be able to lift slabs so they carry water away to your yard. And if your foundation shows cracks, your waterproofing specialist can repair those flaws.

Not every homeowner knows the potential flooding problems they may face when they buy a home. It’s easy to fall in love with a property and not notice faint water marks on the basement walls. If you worry about your basement, don’t wait. Learn about your risks now so you can prevent a flooding disaster later.

With a sump pump, you may never need a bucket brigade again!