shutterstock_168380606Sump pumps are a special type of pump designed to prevent basements from flooding. Not all homes require a sump pump, but if your residence requires one, there are a few different options available.

What’s a sump pump?

Sump pumps are installed in basements of homes that are susceptible to flooding. The pump itself is usually installed in special pits known as sump pits. Sump pits are not necessarily large; they are usually lined with gravel and measure around half a metre deep and wide. Water drains into the pit through drainage systems or through the soil, and the pump directs it away from the building.

Homes that need sump pumps

Sump pumps are common in residences that are situated in low-lying areas, built in an area under the water table level or in regions that receive heavy snow that melts quickly.

It is more common than not for homes to require a sump pump. Even homes that are not at a high risk of flooding can benefit from having a sump pump, as a small flood can cause a significant amount of damage. Apart from avoiding flooding, a sump pump can help reduce dampness in basements and in turn the growth of mould and mildew.

Your home may need a sump pump if you live in an area prone to flooding or if your basement is constantly moist and subject to mould.

Types of sump pumps

Sump pumps are usually activated by a pressure sensor or float activator when the sump pit is filled with water. They are connected to pipes that run to a drainage spot outside the home. However, some pumps are manually operated and do not have an inbuilt sensor.

Sump pumps typically come in two designs. The submersible design sits in the pit and comes in a waterproof casing. The outlet is on the top of the pump and the actual pump situated at the very bottom of the device.

The second type of design is the pedestal pump. The pump is outside the pit and the device uses an inlet pipe to draw the water out of the pit and into the pump. Pedestal pumps tend to be less expensive than submersible pumps.

Installation and maintenance

Sump pumps should usually be installed by a licensed plumber. The installation process involves routing an outlet pipe, lining piping and digging a sump pit. Maintenance may involve checking the ground fault circuit interrupter that the pump is plugged into, checking the pump, and testing the pump to check that it starts. Pumps may need to be cleaned once in a while, as rubble or debris can collect in the grate at the bottom. The vent hole may need to be checked and cleaned as well.