Plumbing 101: What is a Sump Pump?

For this edition of plumbing 101 we’re going to address the common homeowner question of what is a sump pump. In addition to explaining what it is, we will also address the size of sump pump that is needed for each type of installation.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a critical element of plumbing 101. A sump pump is a type of automatic pump that will drain your sump basin. It is used in emergency plumbing situations when there is a drainage overflow. The most common place for them is in the basement of residential houses, to prevent flooding during water leaks and in case the basement becomes flooded for any other reason.

There are two types of residential sump pumps:

1. Submersible

Submersible sump pumps are created with a sealed construction, as they will spend their lives submerged in oil. They offer top-notch cooling, lubrication and don’t get moisture or dirt inside them, which means that they have an extremely long life. As they are extremely durable they generally come with extended warranties. They’re also quieter and are tidier as they sit inside your sump pit instead of on top. The one downside is that they cost more than pedestal sump pumps.

2. Pedestal 

Pedestal-style sump pumps are the more common type of sump pumps installed as they are more affordable. With this type of sump pump the motors are mounted on the exterior, on a column. As the motor is exterior-mounted it is susceptible to moisture- and dirt/dust-induced damage.

Are Submersible Sump Pumps Worth It?

In our opinion—absolutely. In the long run they are a smarter purchase. They are quieter and last significantly longer. In fact—they last, on average, 5x longer than pedestal sump pumps. If it is in the budget to buy a submersible pump, we highly recommend it.

What Size Sump Pump Should I Buy?

Buying the proper size sump pump is critical. Without the proper HP your basement could flood. Undersized sump pump installations also cause them to work harder than they should, which can damage the pump. Most homeowners buying sump pumps are simply replacing an old, burnt-out pump, in which case you simply buy one with the same HP as the existing one (unless the reason it failed was that it wasn’t powerful enough).

When purchasing a sump pump, 1/3 HP is generally the recommended minimum. If you are pumping a large quantity of water at a time, or will be pumping consistently, then 1/2 HP is recommended to avoid flooding. Note that the higher you have to pump your water from the basin the more HP will be needed. Should your sump pit be more than 10-inches in diameter then you will need a ‘vertical-switch’ type of pump.

Plumbing 101: Can I Install it Myself?

If you have a decent amount of technical know-how, then a sump pump can be installed, relatively easily, with the right tools (screwdriver, channel locks and possibly a hacksaw). Simply follow the instructions included in the package.

Should your technical knowledge be less than ‘savvy’, and you’re in the Oshawa and Durham Region, then call Hayes Plumbing to install it for you.

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