Basement Sump Pumps

What to Consider when Buying a Basement Sump Pump

By Mark J. Donovan

Unfortunately moisture problems are frequently synonymous with basement and crawl spaces. Sometimes these moisture problems are quite severe to the point of water literally filling up the basement or crawl space. If you have a basement or crawl space with this situation, then the installation of a basement sump pump maybe your only or cheapest solution.

Water entering a basement or crawl space occurs because the surrounding ground around the home becomes water saturated.

The water, in an attempt to find a lower pressure, frequently finds its way into foundation cracks or seams, thus filling up the basement or crawl space.

You can either attempt to prevent the ground water from nearing your home’s foundation by the installation of a perimeter drain, or you can install a sump pump. Installing a perimeter drain around the home requires extensive excavation work and thus is expensive and very disruptive alternative. Consequently the installation of a basement sump pump is frequently the best solution.

Basement sump pumps are typically installed in the basement or crawl space, near where the water comes in or where the water initially collects. The installation of a basement sump pump involves the cutting of the basement floor and the creation of a small well or basin area, about the size of a 5 gallon bucket.

The basement sump pump sits in this basin and turns on, when water begins to collect in it. The basement sump pump has a float, or switch mechanism, that is used to automatically sense the water level in the basin and activate or deactivate the sump pump accordingly. Water discharged from the basement sump pump is typically directed out a basement window, via a hose to a low point on the property.

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A check valve sits in series with the discharge pipe/hose to prevent the back flow of water into the basin when the sump pump turns off.

Submersible Sump Pumps vs Pedestal Sump Pumps

There are two main types of basement sump pumps, both of which require electricity to operate.

Submersible Sump Pump

The submersible sump pump sits totally submerged in the basin area. With a submersible pump, both the pump and motor are fully integrated into a sealed unit that sits in the basin. It is ideal for finished basements due to the fact that they are quieter; however they have the tendency to have shorter life spans due to the fact that they constantly sit in the basin which frequently has water in it. Submersible sump pumps are also typically more expensive then the pedestal types.

Pedestal Sump Pump

Pedestal sump pumps sit outside the well area, or at least their motors do. A pedestal sump pump has its pump at the bottom of a pedestal and the motor elevated two to three feet up on top of the pedestal.

With a pedestal pump, only the pump, along with a float switch, is submersed into the basin. The motor stands above the water collection basin, and is not meant to get wet. Pedestal pumps are noisier due to the fact that their motors are not submerged in water, however they are less expensive and easier to maintain.

Key Basement Sump Pump Features / Attributes

When looking into buying a basement sump pump take care to consider the flow rate and head pressure. The gallons per minute (GPM), or gallons per hour (GPH) flow rate is key in determining how much water can flow through the pump. The head pressure determines how vertically high the sump pump can lift the water. For example, if a sump pump advertises a high flow rate but a low head pressure, the water may not be able to be lifted high enough to dump it out the basement window.

Higher powered motors, e.g. ½ HP, typically will offer adequate flow rates and head pressures for most residential applications.

Basement sump pumps are manufactured in a variety of materials, including plastic, cast iron, alloy metals, and stainless steel. It is best to select models that are less likely to corrode, and that can support a high flow rate and head pressure.

Basement sump pump prices range from $40 to $800.

For more help on Basement Additions, see’s Basement Remodeling Bid sheet. The Basement Remodeling Bid Sheet will help ensure that your hire the right contractor so that your basement remodeling project is done correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.

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