Basement Sump Pumps
Written by Todd Fratzel.
Sump Pumps Keep Basements Dry
If you live here in New England you know that sump pumps are a necessity in quite a few homes especially when spring rains come. Currently we’re experiencing some historical flooding in the area and I thought I’d share some thoughts on sump pumps (also a friend’s recent article on sump pumps also reminded me of the issue).
For basements in poorly graded soils, basements below the water table and basements in flood zones, sump pumps can be the difference between a damp basement and a flooded basement when heavy rains come. In order for sump pumps to be effective there are a few things you should consider.
Sump Pump Considerations
Sump pumps need to be selected based on several factors including; how high it must pump the water (elevation from the bottom of sump pit to the highest point of the exit pipe), volume of expected water, and occasionally on the available power source. Most residential sump pumps come in 1/3 and 1/2 horse power (HP) motors with an occasional 1/4 HP motor in rare situations. As with any type of pump there is a wide range of pricing and options from all plastic housings to sturdier metal ones.
What Size Pump Do You Need?
While there is no steadfast rule on sizing a sump pump there are a few rules of thumb that can help you make a good choice.
- 1/4 HP Pump – Frankly I really don’t see why you’d make this selection but if you have a very small amount of water on a rare occasion then this pump might work out just fine (for the little savings I doubt it’s worth it).
- 1/3 HP Pump – These pumps are probably in more homes than any other size and they perform well under normal operations. Normal operation would be pumping heights less than 8 feet and an average amount of water. These pumps work best if your basement isn’t far below the water table and you get minimal water.
- 1/2 HP Pump – These pumps are a workhorse and can handle most any residential application. If you get significant basement water then this is the one for you. In extreme cases you may need multiple sumps and pumps to handle large volumes of water.
It’s important to choose a pump that’s sized appropriately. If you pick a large sized pump when you only have small volumes of water then the pump will cycle on and off constantly reducing the life of the pump and creating quite the racket!
Sump Pump Power
Most sump pumps run off a standard 20 amp GFCI protected circuit. It’s important that you follow the manufacturers recommendations for proper power. It’s also important that you check all local and State regulations pertaining to the electrical code.
Sump Pump Drain Pipe
Most sump pumps are connected to a 1-1/2 inch diameter PVC discharge pipe. Running the pipe isn’t very difficult so we won’t go into how to install PVC pipe in this article. One of the most important parts of a properly connected sump pump is a check valve which prevents water from draining back down the discharge line into the sump when the pump stops. Without the check valve the pump would constantly be turning back on to drain water it already pumped up the pipe!
Have An Extra Pump Handy
Probably one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is to buy an extra sump pump the next time you buy one. Having an extra back-up pump available can be the difference between a flooded basement and a dry one during a severe flooding event. Sump pumps have been known to quit working when you need them most. If you’ve got a replacement handy the change can be made quickly and keep your home from flooding.
If you’re interested in a more detailed example of a house that was retrofitted with a nice sump pump and drain system then check out How To Water Proof A Basement over Homeowner’s Blog. Paul has some great photos and a nice basement drainage system in place now.
Photo Credit: Homeowner’s Blog
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