What is sump pump and how it works
Do you have a basement in your home? Are you facing issues of wet basement? Are you facing the problem of basement flooding? If yes then you are not the only one facing these issues. There are many home owners who are troubled with these problems. One of the solutions of troubleshooting these issues is to have a sump pump installed in your home. In old homes which were built without adequate basement waterproofing, sump pump is the best way to get rid of the basement issues. It would be hidden in one of the deepest corners of your basement and it will be invisible to you but by far it is one of the most essential appliances in your home. The basic function of pump is to remove ground water from underneath the house. Without sump pump, water will keep coming in the house during heavy rain and it can flood your basement or even your entire house. It is usually placed on the pit which is built in your crawlspace or basement floor. Generally the concrete floor is slightly poured downhill when home is built so that the water will flow right into the pit. This water will be ejected out of the house through the pump. The pump is fitted in the bottom of the pump hole and it has a switch which is activated according to the water level in your basement. When there is water in your basement and it flows into the pit, the pump gets activated and it starts pulling the water out of the pit with the help of a discharge pipe. This discharge pipe takes the water and throws it into the designated area or drain, outside of the house. Most of the pump will discharge the water out in your backyard. Make sure to keep the exit place of the water far from your house as keeping it near to the home structure, can damage your walls. Here are some of the types of sump pumps which can be installed in your home.
Types of sump pump
Pedestal pumps are considered to be one of the most common types of sump pump. Here, a motor is placed on a small pedestal. The entire unit of the pump is about 30 inches tall. There is a hose or a pipe which extends down from the motor to the bottom of the pit. There is also a float placed on a separate metal rod. Depending upon the high and low of the water level, these float also moves up and down. This is considered as a float switch. When the float is pushed to a certain height due to the water level, it activates the motor and water is sucked through the hose and is ejected through another pipe. The motor placed on this pump is designed in a way where it will always be activated before the water level reaches to a point where the pump gets submerged.
For locations where the sump pump will need to be under water, another type of pump can be installed in your home. It’s called the submersible pump. This unit is quite smaller, only 12 inches tall. It sits on the bottom of the sump pit. The pumps of this style contain a float switch on a rod which is similar to the pedestal pump but here the rod is only 4 inches long. This electrical switch is encased in to a hard plastic bubble. Depending upon the rise in water level, bubble also starts floating. When it is floating extremely high, it reaches to a vertical position above the sump pump and then the switch gets activated and the pump kicks on. Unlike pedestal pump, submersible pumps don’t have intake pipe which sucks up the water which has to be sent out. Instead of that, the pump is situated just at the bottom of the unit. The water is sucked up right through the bottom of the pump. There are many advantages of this type of pump. First of all, if there is any debris or any loose gravel in the sump pit then the screen or the grate in the submersible pump will prevent the gravel from getting from getting sucked up in the impeller of the pump. The impeller is a rotor machine which creates the suction in the pump. Any damage in the impeller will result in the sump pump being rendered useless. This is the benefit a submersible pump has over a pedestal style pump where the filtration process of the debris or the gravel ensures a long lasting life for the submersible pump unlike the pedestal pump.
If your home is full of debris and you need a pump which will be able to eject some small amount of debris without damaging the Ejector then you should avail of an Ejector sump pump. If you are having a basement which is not of concrete but just of pea gravel, then, Ejector pump is the best type of pump to opt for. Basically ejector pumps are those which can handle small debris without damage. However these types of pump are bit pricier but they are generally constructed of cast iron and they also have a 2 inch ejector port instead of the usual 1 ¼th inch port which you generally see in most of the sump pumps. This different style of impeller with increased size allows the Ejector pump to process small amount of debris and gravel without affecting the mechanism.
In certain situations, there’s need of the sewage pumps. In general, you will not see a sewage pump in the new houses as it is not legally allowed to install the sewage pumps without any checks and balances, in this manner. A Sewage pump is generally installed when all the waste water of the house is funneled up into the sump pit. Application of sewage pump is very rare and it needs a sewage crock with a sealed lead. All your shower water, dishwater, washing machine drainage and also your toilet drainage will be directed to the flow into the bottom of the sump pit. If this is your case then you definitely need sewage pump which will be dealing with whatever solids that flow in.
Make your proper research and then opt for the type of pump which fits with your need the most. After you decide the type of pump, it’s the time for sump pump installation. This isn’t hard and can be done in an hour with common household tools. So, if you are a handy person, you can try a Do-It-Yourself sump pump installation with the easy guide suggested below. In case, you aren’t comfortable doing the installation yourself, you can call a professional and get your work done.
Steps for sump pump installation
Decide pump location
Usually your sump pump basin should be in the lowest lying position in your basement so that water naturally flows over there. Make sure that the area is properly sloped downwards. If it’s possible, try and place this slope nearby an outside wall so that the placement of discharge pipe is easy and even close to the GFCI (Ground floor circuit interrupter) electrical outlet so that you can easily plug in the pump. Also check out that this place can accommodate installation of discharge pipes so that they can remove water to a spot which is away from the foundation of the home or usually into a nearby drain. Also check whether your local codes allow you to do so or not. Before starting up with the sump pump installation, check the locations of the sewer pipes and other utility pipes. If they are located under your foundation, you don’t want to break any pipes while digging the ground of the basement and cause a bigger and dangerous problem.
To measure the hole size which you are going to make, place the sump pump basin liner on the floor and then trace around it by using a permanent marker. Take a jackhammer for breaking up the concrete floor inside the circle. Make holes around the marked circles with jackhammer every couple of inches and then use a large sledgehammer or even a small sledge with a masonry chisel to further break the concrete into small enough pieces which can be easily picked up and disposed of. Make sure while you are doing all these work you are wearing heavy boots and safety glasses, especially while operating a jackhammer. Also you must know how to properly use jackhammer or else you might hurt yourself.
Install discharge pipe
The good time for making an opening for discharge pipe is when the concrete around the pump is half way through being set. Check the instructions on the particular pump model for finding out what size of PVC pipe will be needed for discharging the water outside. Make the hole of the size described on the instructions. Install your discharge pipe into the hole and then connect the elbow joint to the discharge pipe with the help of PVC cement. Trim the discharge pipe to an inch or two by using a hacksaw. If possible trim it to the nearby drain. Seal the inside and outside of the pipe with silicone caulk so that it is both water tight and air tight. You can also add an additional pipe to discharge the flow of the water away from your foundation. How you connect the additional pipe depends upon the landscaping and topography features of your property. If water is automatically discharged away from your foundation then you don’t need to have additional pipe connected to discharge pipe.
Install sump pump pipes
For installing pipes, you need to install sump pump basin first. Installation of basin differs from manufacturer to manufacturer and also differs from type of pump model. If you are installing sump pump basin for pedestal pumps then you need to install the basin outside and if you are opting for installing submersible sump pump basin then you need to place it in the bottom. Make sure that the float is not touching the sides of the basin otherwise the float might get stuck and render the pump useless.
Test the pump
The last step of sump pump installation is to test the pump. For doing so, you need to plug your pump into a GFCI (Ground floor circuit interrupter) outlet and pour bucket of water into the sump pump basin. Activate the pump and see whether the pump is working properly and ensure that the inside pipes are not leaking water. Move outside and have a check whether the water is getting discharged correctly and that too, away from the foundation of your home.
As we have discussed, sump pump installation is a must and it helps a lot in keeping the basement dry and protected from flooding. The use and longevity of pump depends upon the area where you are residing. If you are residing in an area with heavy rainfall, chances are there that your pump might break down. For certain situations, it is also necessary to have a sump pump battery backup. It works with electricity and the main time when it needs to be running efficiently is during heavy rains which brings, along with it, lightning and high winds. Lightning, high winds and heavy rain together can knock out the power in your house. So now what do you think will happen? Your pump will stop working at the time when you need it the most. And so it’s advisable to keep a sump pump battery backup.
Sump pump battery backup system
Sump pump battery backup will be used when the primary source of power is lost. These usually run on 12 volt deep cycle marine battery. Buy a battery for such uncertain conditions. You also need to buy an electric charger which keeps this sump pump battery backup fully charged and ready to come into action whenever needed. These sump pump battery backup will cost you around $300 to $500 and the installation is also easy. Follow these tips to maintain your battery backup.
- Avoid installing battery on the floor.
- Keep a plastic case or build a wall mount or stand. It would be really embarrassing if the power trips and your sump overflows ending up frying your backup battery.
- Check and keep the outlet for your primary system mounted nearby your system above the floor level. Don’t run your extension cords from a sump pump motor to the outlet placed across the basement.
Sump pump is but obvious a necessity and must be installed in your home especially if you are having a basement. But are you aware what actually a sump pump costs? The costs must also be taken into consideration while you decide for the installation. On an average a sump pump costs around $1062. Most of the home owners spend $678 to $1585 as sump pump cost including its installation.
A sump pump cost can increase if it is not maintained properly after its installation. When there is lack of maintenance, the need of sump pump repair arises. Sump pump repair is also a very essential element to be taken into consideration. When there is a sudden issue in the pump and you are unable to get the help of a professional, you will need to do the sump pump repairing yourself. Here are some of the handy tips for sump pump repair in emergency situations.
Tips for sump pump repair
- The need of sump pump repair arises when dirt, dust and debris is collected in the pit where water accumulate. Thus one of the easy sump pump repair tips is to clean the pit and make it debris and dirt free since debris and dirt can clog the pump impeller and the discharge tube.
- Inspect the sump pump drainage line for any kind of signs of damage, holes or corrosion. If the sump pump drainage line is found to be damaged in any manner, then, it will cause the water to remain at the bottom of the basin pit only and it will lead to flooding the basement.
- One of the causes leading to sump pump repair can be Float. Have a check on the position of the Float. Float should be placed in such a position where it is not obstructed by walls or any such other object. Also make sure that the float is placed at a appropriate height.
A sump pump might be looking like an avoidable cost but the value that in brings on the table is immense and irreplaceable. You should look at the it as an investment towards your home. A good sump pump will go a long way in ensuring the livability of your home and will ensure that durability of the home remains intact and sound for years and decades to come.