Do I need a sump pump in my home? What does a sump pump do?

Sump Pump
Sump pump

What Is A Sump Pump?

A sump pump is most widely used as a system to collect rain water or water runoff from around a homes foundation. These systems are used to reduce water retention near foundations and prevent water leaks and damages. Many new homes are built with sump pumps and sub-slab footer drains from initial construction, but many homes were built before this practice was initiated and sump pumps are added later. In older homes or in homes that have inadequate footer drains and that are burdened by foundation water leaks or hydrostatic pressure, interior water collection systems must be installed to control water entry and are often installed by basement contractors.

Many customers ask us, “Why do I have a sump pump in my home?” or adversely, “Why does this home not have a sump pump when I had one in my previous home?”. Having or not having a sump pump is less about the house or the foundation type, and is more about the water table and relation of the home to the storm sewer system or water run off areas. If a particular home is built lower than the storm drains or water runoff site, then a sump pump must be used to force the collected water from around the foundation vertically into these drainage areas.

How Does A Sump Pump Work?

There are a few simple parts of a sump pump system besides the electric motor that need to be in place and working for proper operation.

Check Valve

There is a check valve or a “one-way-valve” installed in the drain discharge line above the pump that prevents the collected water from flowing back into the sump well after the pump turns off after a discharge cycle. When this is missing or has failed, excess water will flow back down the vertical drain line and will cause the sump pump to fail more quickly due to excessive use.


There is a sealed air filled float that is attached to the motor and raises with the water level and engages the electric pump when the water reaches the highest point of the float arm which has been set at the pump’s initial installation.

Emergency Backup

Emergency backup systems are used to maintain use of these sump pump systems in the event of a power outage. Backup systems may be either water powered or battery powered. There are pros and cons to both of these backup systems but we recommend that one be used if the sump pump discharges at least once within a 24 hour time period.

Did You Know?

Sanitary drainage into sump pump well
  1.  A sump pump should be cleaned regularly to prevent blockages and premature failure.
  2. A sump pump should be powered through a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) outlet or through a dedicated circuit that is used only by the pump.
  3. Even when sump pumps are used, drainage conditions must be maintained outside to prevent water entry into a structure. These systems are a secondary line of defense against water damage.
  4. Some sump pumps are actually used for sanitary plumbing drainage and are called grinder or ejector pumps. These are sealed at the slab and have a vent stack that attached to the main plumbing venting system.
  5. If used for groundwater, sanitary drains including utility sink drains cannot drain into a sump pump by building requirements.
  6. Some sump pumps are installed outside to control water before entering into a structure or to control yard drainage issues.

The Basement Watchdog has been one of the leading manufactures of sump pumps and backup systems. Above is the company website and a link to a detailed video of how these combo systems work and a simple installation tutorial.

Please call 440-490-3949 or visit our site link above if there are any other questions you have about this topic or if there is anything else we can help you with.

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