Understanding the Sump Pumps and How They Work

Understanding Sump Pumps and How They Work

One of the worst things that homeowners go through is a flooded basement. It frustrates them to the point that they need permanent solutions that double up as preventive measures. A sump pump is the next best solution that keeps the basement from flooding. As a homeowner with a basement, you should understand how sump pumps work to allow for easy purchase, installation, and maintenance. Below is an in-depth guide to understanding sump pumps and how they work
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What is a Sump Pump?

It is a small pump that is installed in the lowest portion of the house basements. It works to prevent flooding in the basement after heavy rainfall. Flooding can weaken the structure, leading to further damage and possibly injuries to home dwellers.

Understanding Sump Pumps and How They Work - In Depth Guide

A sump pump is vertically placed in a sump pit dug in a lower basement area or crawlspace. The pump is meant to turn on once the water fills the pit. The water is pumped out of the pits via pipes that drain the water away from the basement. These pipes are strategically placed to prevent water from flowing back into the basement.

The draining pipes typically have a one-way valve- the check valve located at the pump end. The valve is responsible for moving the water in one way to prevent backflow. Sump pumps are meant to turn on automatically. They do so via a pressure sensor or a float activator arm.

Water exerts more pressure, causing the pump to activate. The float activator, on the other hand, resembles the one present in toilet tanks. The buoyant item floats on the water, moving the arm manually as the water level goes up. Alternatively, you can purchase a manually-operated pump, which, as the name suggests, works when you need it to. However, due to this inconvenience, it is rarely found. The main benefit of automatic pumps can activate the pump should the sensor or float arm fail to work.

The most common home sump pump features a centrifugal pump system to drain water. In the centrifugal pump, once the motor is switched on, the impeller is turned on. Centrifugal force makes the fast-spinning impeller to force water to the pipes’ side, thus creating a low-area pressure at the middle. Water filling the pit flows to fill the void as the spinning forces the water through the pipe.

The majority of home sump pumps are electric-powered. They use standard household current; therefore, they do not require specialized wiring past a grounded outlet. It is good to have a GFCI on the outlet to avoid accidental electrocution.

Types of Sump Pumps

To better understand how sump pumps work, you should know the different types. There are primarily two categories of sump pumps, which are;

Pedestal Pump

A pedestal pump consists of a separate pump and motor. The motor is placed on a pedestal above the basin. There is a hose going to the basin where the pump is located. The pump forces water via the hose out to the drain. The pump lasts longer than submersible sump pumps and is easily accessible for sustenance matters since it is not submerged. Unfortunately, this means it can get louder and noisier than the submersible pump.

Submersible Pump

As the name suggests, submersible pumps are enclosed in a basin and rested in the water. Unlike pedestal pumps, these contain the motor and pump in one unit. Submersible pumps are encased in waterproof cases, the pump being at the bottom, and the outlet pipe close to the top. There is a grate put below the pump to keep off debris.

Once the pump turns on, water is sucked up via a protective grate, channeled through pipes, and out of the basement. Submersible sump pumps save space and are quieter than pedestal pumps since they are rested in the water basin. They clog lesser than pedestal ones. Unfortunately, their lifespan is shorter than that of a pedestal due to water submission effects.

While classifying sump pumps, there are also;

  • Water-powered backup
  • Battery-powered backup

A water-powered backup removes the accumulated water via increased water pressure. Its system does not need to monitor the backup or a change in batteries. Unfortunately, using additional water increases the utility bills and is inconvenient.

On the other hand, a battery-powered backup is an excellent way to provide extra safety from flood damage. A float switch enables the sump pump to function even when there is no power, especially when you need it the most. When there is no power, the pump automatically detects. Once the water level rises in the basin, the float switch is triggered, prompting the battery into action.

Types of Sump Pump Switches

Different sump pumps function using various switches. The switch enables the pump to be activated manually. Switches, however, function differently, as much as they achieve similar results. They include:

  • Float switch. It is a float linked to the pump, and it sits on the water surface. The float rises with the water levels, and the pump turns on upon detection.
  • Pressure switch. The switch feels the rising level of pressure in the water. It thus activates the pump’s action at a specific degree.
  • Electronic switch. It does not work by a float; instead, it senses the water pressure within the basin. The pressure rises with the water, thereby setting off the probes and switching on the pump.
  • Diaphragm switch. The switch flips concave as the pressure goes up and the back whenever it drops, in and out. It is the most preferred because it rarely gets stuck. 

Bottom Line

Read the manual availed to you to understand the sump pump in detail and how to install one. A sump pump is most suitable for those with a history of floods and has unusually wet basements. A proper sump pump should get rid of clogged water in your basement at a reasonable speed. Therefore, check its progress regularly to ensure it is working as efficiently and as expected.

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