What is a Sump Pump?

What is a Sump Pump?

Hearing the sump pump kick on can fill you with a sense of dread and relief at the same time. It’s on because there is water building up in your basement or beneath you house, but hurray! It’s working, getting rid of the water before it can cause damage.

If you don’t have a sump pump you should. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors 60% of all American homes have below ground wetness issues. A sump pump is one of those items you hope you’ll never need. However, when you need one, YOU NEED IT! A flooded basement or crawl space can be an expensive mess to clean up due to property damage and cause mold to accumulate in your home.

A backup sump pump is a simple machine designed to prevent extensive water damage to due flooding of any kind. It is installed in your basement or crawl space beneath you foundation to keep water from backing up by pumping it out of the house and into a location outside, a storage tank for use as gray water (to water the lawn for instance) or into the sewer.

It doesn’t matter where you live; near a river, on a mountain, in the urban jungle or the ‘burbs, you could experience flooding. Excessive rain, a broken water pipe buried underground, or a malfunctioning washing machine can flood anyone’s home. Having a backup sump pump is a good idea for all homeowners.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are two kinds of sump pumps you can install.

  1. Pedestal — this type of pump is not submersible and uses a pipe to suck up water and pump it out of your house.
  2. Submersible — this type of pump, like the name says, can be submerged in water down in the sump pit.

The best type for your home depends on the type of basement or crawl space you have, the predicted amount of water you would need to pump in a worst-case scenario and your budget.

Your Back up Sump Pump

If you install a sump pump that runs on electricity, you can either have it wired into you home’s electrical system or plug it in. If you use a cord, be sure it is plugged into a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFI) outlet to avoid accidental electrocution since water and electricity don’t mix.

With an electrical powered sump pump you need a back-up system when/if there is a power outage like during a storm. Many sump pumps come with a battery back up. The best kind of battery is a called a deep cycle boat/marine battery. These are designed to deliver a steady current of power for an extended time, but can handle power surges. They can also be deeply discharged over and over again, whereas this would quickly deplete a car-type battery.

You can also have a gasoline or diesel back up generator to keep the sump pump humming along during a bad rainstorm that knocks out the power. Just be sure you have one that is adequately large to run the pump.

Some sump pumps can be integrated into the pressurized water system of the home with no electricity or back up battery needed.


Installing a sump pump is no easy task. Having it done by a professional plumber is a smart way to go. There are a lot of things that go into installing the correct pump in the right place and determining where the water will be pumped to if you have a flood.

You can’t just pump water out anywhere such as into the street or into your yard where it could flood your neighbors basement. You will need to find a safe place outside the home that the water will drain away from other homes or buildings or find out if you are allowed to pump the water into your city’s sewer system.

Another option is a gray water storage tank to collect it for use in keeping the lawn or trees watered.

You will have to determine where the utility and sewer lines come into your property, and be sure to have your sump pit as far away from those as possible. The sump pit also needs to be a certain distance from the outside wall and if it powered by electricity, near a GFI outlet. You should not use an extension cord with the pump.

A professional plumber can help you determine what size of backup sump pump you need, which type is right for you, where it should be place and how the water should be dispersed. There is never really room for error when it comes to potential flooding and water damage. With a professional plumbing company, you can be assured everything is installed correctly. We can walk you through how to maintain your pump with regards to cleaning it and testing it periodically to ensure it is working correctly.

Don’t take chances with Mother Nature, or your anything else for that matter. Have a professionally installed backup sump pump ready when or if an unexpected deluge occurs.