Your Complete Sump Pump Installation Guide

Any homeowner who has endured a flooded basement can attest: Hardly anything is worse. Unfortunately, for homeowners who haven’t experienced a flood, they’re not terribly hard to come by.


Fast and heavy rainfalls, a substantial amount of rain over several days, or an ice or snowstorm that melts quickly can make basements extremely susceptible to wetness and flooding.

There is good news, though: When a basement houses a functioning, effective sump pump – one that is the right type and size for the house and basement, and is prepared to handle emergency situations, like power outages – a homeowner doesn’t have to worry about a flooded basement.

Use this guide to learn about sump pumps, including how to select the right type of sump pump for your basement and how to choose an installer.

Why Sump Pumps are Installed

It’s extremely common for homeowners to not think about the water that seeps
into the ground surrounding the foundation of their home.

But where does ground or rainwater go? How does this water not leak into the basement or a crawlspace?

Sump pumps are installed to keep water away from your home’s foundation and prevent your basement from flooding by pushing water out from under the home.

How Do Sump Pumps Work?

A sump pump is a vital component to your home that works around the clock to
protect its foundation by keeping underground water at bay.

Most of the actual pump lives underground. When a sump pump is installed, a sump pit is dug to house the pump. Typically, sump pits are dug in the lowest part of a basement and are two feet deep by 18 inches wide (approximate) with a gravel base.

During a heavy rain or when the ground is saturated with water, the pit will fill with water. When this happens, the pump will turn on and move water away from the foundation through pipes that run out from the home to a safe place where water can drain.

  • The pipe that carries the water away from the foundation of the home usually has a check valve that only opens one way to keep the water from flowing back into the pit.
  • Most sump pumps turn on automatically by the activation of a pressure sensor or a float activator arm. As water levels rise in the pit, the buoyant ball that is attached to the float activator arm rises as well and triggers the pump to start pushing water away from the house.
  • To move the water, sump pumps use centrifugal force to move water.
  • Sump pumps use electricity and don’t require specialized wiring.

At this point, you may be wondering, ‘How do I know if I need a sump pump?’ Or, perhaps, ‘How do I know if I need to replace my sump pump?’

Signs You May Need A Sump Pump

If you answer yes to one or more of the following questions, you should consider installing a sump pump:
Has your basement flooded before?
Do you live in a flat or low area where water easily collects?
Do you live in an area where it rains or snows frequently?
Do you have a finished basement with possessions you wouldn’t want destroyed by water damage or mold?

If you currently have a sump pump in your basement, you may want to consider having a new one installed if:
It is 6 or more years old. (Sump pumps usually last up to 10 years)
It cycles on and off.
It runs longer than it should.

Types of Sump Pumps

While a sump pump (regardless of which ‘type’) has a very important, specific job, sump pumps do come in different types and models.Understanding the differences can help you choose the pump that’s best for your home. Learn about the four main types of sump pumps:

Primary Sump Pumps

Primary sump pumps are the standard pumps most commonly found in basements today. They are designed to pump seepage water out of a basement and away from the home’s foundation. They are effective and efficient at keeping a basement dry, as – depending on the size and model you choose – they can pump up to several thousand gallons an hour.

There are two types of primary sump pumps:

  • Submersible pumps are placed underwater in a sump pump basin. They are:
    • Quieter and not as noticeable
    • Easier to handle
    • More efficient and can last longer
  • Pedestal pumps are positioned with the pump motor out of the water, above a sump basin. They are:
    • Ideal for smaller pits/basins
    • Easier to access and repair since they have a motor mounted high on a shaft sticking up above the sump basin

Battery Backup Sump Pumps

Battery backup sump pumps deliver incredible peace-of-mind with the added assurance that the sump pump will not stop working if the power goes out. Since sump pumps are electric-powered, every pump would be useless in a power outage – and this is usually when they are needed the most.

Battery backup sump pumps are also invaluable if the main pump fails for any reason, or it can’t keep up with the demand during a large storm. During a blackout, the battery on the backup sump pump will turn on. This gives the pump power, so it continues working, even when the home is without regular electric power.

Combination Sump Pump Systems

Combination sump pump systems are an all-in-one combination of a primary pump and a battery backup system. With a combination sump pump system, a basement is protected during normal rainfalls and during power outages, too. When it comes to complete home flood protection, a combination sump pump is the system to get.

Sewage Pumps/Effluent Pumps

While they can easily be confused for a typical sump pump system, sewage pumps have a different job. They’re usually only used if a home has a sewage/effluent basin or tank.Sewage/effluent pumps differ from sump pumps because they remove wastewater that collects from laundry, bathroom sinks and showers.Once installed – either in the septic tank or a separate pump chamber – they will run automatically once installed.Certainly not every home needs this type of pump, but it’s good to know about this option when doing further research on sump pumps.

Why You Need a Sump Pump Battery Backup System

Unfortunately, sump pumps are not fail proof. While designed to protect your basement from thousands of dollars in water damage, they can fail and malfunction like any other piece of equipment.

Because sump pumps rely on your home’s electricity, the potential for a sump pump failure is especially high if your power goes out. Sump pumps can also fail due to mechanical issues or excessive use.

Remember: A dead pump can lead to a disaster. Avoid the trouble with a battery backup sump pump, or a battery backup for an existing sump pump.

Factors to Consider Before Selecting a Sump Pump

Why is it important to have the right sump pump for your home? We cannot overstate: A large rain can cause your basement to flood within minutes – causing extensive damage and huge costs and headaches. The right type and size of sump pump for your basement is essential.

Even if you have a sump pump, but it’s too small for your home, your basement can still flood.

Now that you’re versed in the different types of sump pumps, let’s talk about sump pump switches and horsepower:


Not all sump pumps are created equal. Whether you have a submersible, pedestal, or combination pump, it must be powerful enough to do its job.

The amount of horsepower your pump needs depends on:

  • The size of your house
  • The severity of flooding you’re likely to experience

A common pump power is 1/3 horsepower, which is powerful enough to remove water from an average home with low to moderate flood risk.

For larger homes, or homes with a higher risk of flooding, 1/2 horsepower to 3/4 horsepower would be beneficial.

Type of Switch

Even if you have decided on the type and size of pump that would best suit your home, you should still spend time understanding the different types of pump switches to ensure every part of your pump is meeting your needs.

Of course, a switch that turns the pump on automatically if the home starts to flood, and off once the home is out of danger, is usually best.

  • Mechanical switches use a float to measure the water level and turn the pump on and off as it rises and falls.
  • Electronic switches, also known as pressure switches or capacitive switches, electronically detect the water level and turn on when it gets too high.

Ready to Add a Sump Pump to Your Basement? We Can Help You Select & Install the Right Sump Pump

Don’t let an old, broken or nonexistent sump pump compromise the comfort, dryness and safety – not to mention all your furniture and personal belongings – of your basement.

Selecting the right sump pump for your home is one of the best things you can do to protect it before Mother Nature threatens it with heavy rain or a fast snow melt.

As a team of experienced and licensed plumbers and excavators with extensive sump pump knowledge, we’re here to help you select the right sump pump for your home and provide quick installation.

Serving all of Cuyahoga, Erie, Lake, Lorain, Summit, Medina & Mahoning
counties, we’re here to take the stress and worry off your hands and ensure your
basement is protected.

Give us a call today to discuss sump pump installation or fill out our online form.