Learn about how a sump pump operates to reduce flooding.
About sump pumps
A sump pump is a personal solution to flooding in a home. Sump pumps work to move water out of a basement and into a designated drainage area. This type of pump is placed in a constructed pit that is typically created beneath the basement floor. When the valves in the pump detect that the water levels are too high, the sump pump automatically starts pumping the excess water out of the home through a drainage line. Designated drainage areas to pump the excess water include dry wells, creeks or ponds, or the neighborhood drainage system. In order to determine where a sump pump should drain to, check your local government for building codes regarding sump pumps.
The image above shows a sump pump that has been built beneath a cement basement.
Sump pumps types
The kind of sump pump that is most useful for a home depends on the amount of flooding that is experienced in that area. Selecting too high of a horse power could lead to a lowered lifespan of the pump due to it turning on and off repeatedly or cycling. Selecting too low of a horsepower will not decrease the flood risk to a home because the sump pump will not be able to handle the amount of floodwater. There are four kinds of sump pumps: submersible, pedestal, battery-operated backup, and water-powered backup.
A submersible sump pump is completely submerged in the water basin beneath a home’s basement. It is quieter than other sump pumps and saves space, however it may not last as long as other types. A submersible sump pump contains the pump and motor in one unit and is the best option for homes that experience major flooding.
A pedestal sump pump has a separate motor and pump. The motor sits on a pedestal above the basin where the pump is located and water is pumped from the basin to a designated drainage area. The motor is not submerged which makes it loud, but this also means it often has a longer lifespan and is accessible for maintenance.
A battery-operated sump pump will operate even if power goes out during a flood. This kind of pump has a float switch that gets triggered when water in the pump’s basin rises, turning the pump on and allowing for extra security from flood damage.
A water-powered backup sump pump can also protect a home from flood damage when the power goes out because it uses water pressure to operate, not electricity. This sump pump uses municipal water to create enough pressure to create a vacuum that sucks water from the sump pit. A water-powered backup will increase a homeowner’s municipal water bill and some cities do not allow them to be installed, so be sure to check local government websites before installation.
Sump pump costs
Generally, sump pumps cost anywhere from $100 to $400 but there are other considerations that could add to the price of installing a sump pump. Sump pumps themselves vary in cost depending on size, horsepower, and other factors. The material a home’s basement is made out of can increase the cost of labor if it is difficult to remove, for example concrete. Acquiring a permit to install a sump pump costs money as well. Any required drainage area and distance to that drainage area add costs to the sump pump as drainage lines will need to be acquired to get the water to this site. Additional costs will be incurred if a homeowner requires a licensed professional to install the sump pump.