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What Is a Sump Pump?

What Is a Sump Pump?

What on Earth is a Sump Pump?

The sump pump is an essential feature of many homes and most people have no idea what the heck it is. It’s a small pump that removes excess water from the basement usually using a drain system. It’s what keeps your basement from flooding during heavy storms. This tiny piece of basement waterproofing prevents thousands of dollars of damage, dangerous mold infestations, and damage to your home’s foundation.

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Lots of people are baffled when they’re considering buying a home and the real estate agent shows them the sump pump. It’s not a feature of every home, but it’s especially common in humid, coastal or low-lying areas. If you buy a house that’s been using a sump pump, this is a good sign that you need it.

Two Types of Sump Pumps

There are two kinds of sump pumps. They can be either partway underground or above ground on a small pedestal. If underground, the sump pump sits in a ‘sump pit.’ This is a shallow hole with a gravel base. The hole’s walls and floor are usually concrete and not earth because debris can get into the pump and clog or break it.

The pedestal style is not considered as effective as the underground style. The reason is that water naturally drains into the sump pit, making it easier for the pump to remove it. These pit-style pumps are usually located in the deepest part of the basement and often in an out-of-the-way place.

How a Sump Pump Saves Your Basement

There are different types of sump pumps, but most work in a similar way. They use an impeller, which is a device with fan blades, to push water up using centrifugal force to a vertical pipe. This vertical pipe is connected to a drainage pipe which leads the water away from the home’s foundation.

Submerged sump pumps have a rubber floater just like your toilet. When it starts floating, it turns on the pump and the motor kicks in. The motors of older pipes can be a bit noisy but newer ones are designed to be quiet. Submerged pumps tend to be quieter than the pedestal style.

Sump Pump Troubles

Sump pumps work well most of the time, but not always. The biggest problem is that the pump can lose power. You need a sump pump most when there’s a serious storm raging outside, but this is also when you get power outages. If the sump pump’s power goes, you could have a flood on your hands.

Because of this risk, most sump pumps today come with a back-up power supply. If the house’s power goes, the pump will keep doing its job. Some models are powered by your home’s pressurized water to prevent the power going out.

It’s good to learn as much as you can about your home’s sump pump. Most things that can go wrong with a sump pump are easily fixed. For example, if the floater is improperly set it won’t tell the motor to kick in, but you can adjust this by hand just like you can with your toilet.

There’s one important thing to understand about your sump pump – Although considered a waterproofing solution, it actually isn’t waterproofing at all. It doesn’t prevent water from entering your home. What it does is to remove water in the basement whenever it’s there.