Sump Pumps: Answers To 2 Common Questions

Posted on: 5 November 2015

Nothing strikes quite as much dread in the heart of a homeowner as the thought of a flooded basement. Luckily, sump pumps are a common and effective way of reducing the risk when things get wet outside. If you are considering having a plumber install a sump pump to protect your basement against flooding, read on. This article will answers two common questions asked about sump systems.

Are all sump pumps basically the same?

There are two basic types of sump pump: pedestal pumps and submersible pumps. Both types involve the installation of a sump pit--basically just an empty hole--in your basement floor. When flooding occurs, excess water enters the sump pit. Regardless of which style you have, the pump then turns on, safely displacing the water away from your house.

The most noticeable difference between the two types is that submersible pumps sit below the level of your basement floor, inside of the sump pit. Pedestal pumps, on the other hand, sit above ground. While this makes them more of a space hog--not to mention a tripping hazard--it also means they don't have to be built to the same exacting standards as waterproof submersible pumps. As a result, pedestal pumps are generally the more affordable variety.

Submersible pumps, however, offer distinct benefits where their raw pumping power is concerned. That's because they're located right down in the sump water, allowing them to generate a greater degree of force and speed when pumping. Thus submersible pumps are often a wise investment for those whose basements are at risk of heavy or rapid flooding.

How does a sump pump system need to be maintained?

For the most part, a sump pump can be counted on to do its job with a minimum of fuss. Yet to keep your pump in good health, year after year, certain maintenance efforts are advisable. This is especially true in the spring, when the risk of flooding is greatest. Fortunately, you don't have to hire a professional plumber to undertake such maintenance.

Begin by unplugging your pump and lifting away the lid covering the sump pit. Visually inspect the pit to determine whether there is any debris or silt that needs to be removed. Once you've ensured that the pit is free of unwanted items, check for any clogs in the intake hole.

Next you're going to wait to see how your pump performs when it comes to actually pumping water. Plug your pump back in, and then fill the sump pit partway with water. Better yet, have a helper add the water while you keep a close eye on the float mechanism; you want to be sure that it rises smoothly along with the water level.

The pump should automatically switch on once the float has risen to the top. Keep your ears peeled for any odd sounds, such as squeaking or squealing. These are a good indication that your pump is going to need to be inspected by a professional plumber.