Introduction to Sump Pump

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHomeowners who live in low-lying areas, or with low spots prone to flooding, may find a sump pump is your best friend in time of need.

Prices can start at around $70 for a small portable unit and range to $500 or more for the deluxe models. There are different types available and different sizes. A submersible pump, as it sounds like, is out of sight as it pumps water from your basement. There are also pedestal models available.

Pedastal pumps are cheaper initially although they last longer. They are also easier to repair when needed. Submersible pumps, because they operate in water, last a considerably shorter time, up to 15 years with good maintenance. Obviously, the more a pump is used, the more wear and tear and the shorter lifespan.

How much pump you need determines how much money you will spend. They are available from 1/6 to 1/2 horsepower, but a bigger factor is how many gallons per minute (or hour) capacity it has. The efficiency is part of the equation but how high you’re pumping that water is also. For example, if a pump is advertised 2400 gallons per hour, that is great if you’re pumping the same amount of height – if it’s based on one foot and you’re pumping it eight feet higher (as out of a basement), you’ll get less performance. Pay attention to choose a pump that can pass leaves and other small debris often are found in flood waters.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAUnless you plan on sitting and watching the water level it’s recommended to get a pump with an automatic shut off switch. This turns the unit off when the pump runs “dry” – when the water is all pumped out. If you aren’t home to turn off the pump it can burn out.

Look for solid parts – cast bronze, stainless, epoxy coated cast iron for example. Make sure the power cord is the length you need – if you’ll need a pump in the center of a room that’s 10′ get a longer cord than needed for safety. DO NOT use extension cords – remember you’re standing in water. Water that seeps into the connection of an extension cord can result in fatal shocks. Have the power cord secured with tie straps so as to not become kinked or damaged in any way. There are also 12 volt battery driven pumps that have a sensor to detect water levels.

Thoroughly examine the pump annually or more often if it’s used heavily. Always disconnect electrical power before handling, especially if there’s water in the pump.

When installing clean debris away and set the pump on a solid area to help prevent it from getting clogged. Know your plumbing codes and whether you can discharage into a drainage system or dry well. Storm drains are another option for draining water. This is less a factor for those in the country but attention is still warranted to handle the water properly. The discharge pipe should be no more than is needed to get the water out away from the home.

A swing check vave will prevent backflow of water, and a relief hole should be drilled in the discharge pipe. This should be below the floorline between the pump discharge and floorline, and reduces the chances of an air lock, in which the pump is running but not pumping water.

A cover is recommended as well as a level alarm. Proper installation and maintenance of the sump pump will help it last longer and insure it runs when you need it!

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