Learn How does a Sump Pump Work in A Basement With maintenance tips

Imagine that you have returned home after a long vacation, or you wake from sleep and see a flooded basement. That situation is nothing but a nightmare. If we want To avoid basement floods due to the rising of excess water into the sump pit, We should install a sump pump.

For being an unfamiliar tool, some people are not clear about a sump pump’s working process. We have implied this article in some points as if you all have the basic idea about how does a sump pump work in a basement. So, let’s get started.

What is a sump pump?

A sump pump is a device that removes the excess water from your basement’s sump pit to a connected area and keeps your basement free from drenching. A sump pump is a must-have device for whoever’s house basement submerged due to the level of rainfall, storm, heavy snowfall, or sudden rising water. It is an automatic pump that turns on by itself when the sump pit’s water level rises to a certain level. 

There are two types of sump pumps: 

  1. Submersible sump pumps – Submersible pumps are submerged into the sump pit.
  2. Pedestal sump pumps –  Pedestal pumps are placed on the bottom of the sump pit. The pedestal pump is not water-resistant. So, this pump must be placed far away from water. 
flooded basement
Flooded Basement

How does A sump pump work in A Basement?

Here we have explained the working process of a sump pump in a few steps. If you read those steps, we assure you that you will not face any confusion about how does a sump pump works in a basement.

Usually, a sump pump is placed into the sump pit (Submersible pump). A sump pit is a hole or basin into the basement floor. When the water level touches a certain point, the basement sump pump turns on automatically. There are several pipes connected with the sump pit that discharges water from the sump basin to a spotted area. The pipe is spotted away from the house as the water can’t return to the home. Also, the discharge pipe has a check valve at the end of the pipe. It is a one-way valve that prevents the water from flow back to the sump pit.

Have you ever think how does a sump pump turns on automatically?

There is an amusing process of turning on the pump. The pump switches on the power through a float activator arm, or sometimes it’s called the pressure sensor. When the water pressure dispenses more than the air, the pump activates. There is a motor with a fan-like device inside the pump that pushes water to the discharge pipes. There are also manually operated pumps. Those pumps have to turn on by someone. But there is no security from flood while it will come. You may get out of the home or sleeping, and the pump is not turned on. It may cause dollars of damage although the presence of a sump pump. That’s why an automatic sump pump is more preferable.

The sump pump that we mostly use in our house uses a centrifugal pumpAs the pump turns on, a screw or fan-like device named impeller turns on. Using centrifugal pressure, the revolving impeller pushes water to the sides of the pipe and generates a mild-coercion area at its center. The basin’s remaining water fills the empty area, and the impeller’s spinning system pushes the water toward the discharge pipe.

Now, it comes to the discharge pipe. The sump pump’s discharge pipe can be connected with the water sewer, utility line, or drain. Some people set up the discharge pipe away from home with a long hose pipe. If you discharge the basement water into a lawn or open place, make sure that it is far away from your house. Otherwise, the water will get back to the house. And make sure your neighbors have not faced any trouble with the basement water.

A sump pump runs with the power source of electricity. So, it doesn’t need different wiring. But one thing that you must aware, you should have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) on the power outage to prevent the possibility of electrocution. As the sump pump is an electrical device, it won’t run while there is no power source. It sometimes happens during a heavy storm. So, what should you do? It may cause potential damage in some minutes if you are not able to run the sump pump. To prevent this situation, you can buy a backup sump pump that must provide backup battery power. When the electricity occurs, the sump pump will turn on with backup power. It will protect your house from the risk of flooding.

Why we need a sump pump?

Already you have known that the sump pump eliminates the excess water from the basement sump pit that accumulates by heavy rain or snowfall. More than 60% of American homeowners have some type of moisture in their basements or crawlspaces, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors Some people face major flooding issues after heavy rainfall or heavy snowfall. If they do not install a sump pump in their basement sump basin, the risk for flooding will be very high. Besides the damage of essential things in the basement, excess water may cause structural damage. So, installing a sump pump will be an excellent decision for those persons whose house area has significant flooding concerns.

Credit: Fresh Water Systems

Sump pump maintenance tips

Usually, sump pumps turn on when the water level reaches a certain point. But unfortunately, that doesn’t happen sometimes. That will be a smashing case if your installed sump pump stops working. To prevent this situation, regular checkup and maintenance is a must. A sump pump should be checked up every couple of months and in the early spring. Here we have given some essential tips to maintain sump pumps.

  •  Check the power line: Check the pump whether it is plugged into the ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet or plugged out. Make sure the power cord is in good shape. GFIC breakers may trip down. IF you see any problem with the GFIC, you can reset it.
  • Open the cover of the sump pump pit: Open up the cover of the sump pit and look inside the basin. If the remaining water looks greasy or oily, the pump motor may have some problems that must repair.
  • Check the discharge pipe: Check the sump pump discharge pipe’s connections whether they are joined properly or not. Make sure the pipes are not blocked with larger rocks or something else. Sometimes the pipes are frozen for cold weather. If so, then clean them.
  • Test your pump: Sump pumps must test if there is no rising water for a long time. Open the sump pit and pour some water at least as if the water can reach a certain level. If the sump pump turns on automatically by pouring water into the basin, then your sump pump is ready to pump the excess water. If the motor doesn’t turn on automatically, then there might be a float sensor issue that must repair.
  • Clean the sump pit: Don’t forget to clean the sump basin if there is any debris, mud, or rock after checking the float switches, float valve, and float arm.


Will a sump pump keep my basement dry?

A sump pump prevents water damage from rising water and flooding after storms. It removes the excess water from the basement pit and helps to keep the water level not rising above the basement floor.

Where does the water drain from a sump pump?

The water drain from a sump pump to a pointed area that you will connect with the discharge pipe. The water may drain into the water sewer line or local drainage system. It depends where you want to remove the water.

How often should a basement sump pump run?

A sump pump doesn’t run at limited times. Usually, a good quality sump pump runs when the water of the sump pit rises to a certain level. So, it can run two, three, or more times if need.

Do sump pumps need maintenance?

Of course, sump pumps need regular maintenances. Otherwise, jammed float switch, sump pump battery issues, and other issues may cause not to turn on the pump.

Should I unplug my sump pump in the winter?

A sump pump should not unplug anytime. Because water may be accumulated into the sump pit at any time due to snowmelts or rainstorms. Don’t worry there is no problem if you keep your sump pump plugged in always.

How often should you clean your sump pump?

To ensure your sump pump runs properly, try to keep the pump clean always. A sump pump should clean at least one time in three or four months. Or you can see your sump pump manual whether there is any instruction about cleaning the pump.

Though a sump pump is a must-have house tool for most American houses, a few people know the detailed information about the sump pump. We hope, after reading this article your all confusion will get off about the working process of a sump pump. One thing we want to recommend to you that, whatever you buy, that must worth the cost and effort.

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