How Does A Sump Pump Work?

Dec 31, 2022 | Plumbing

How does a sump pump work? A sump pump is an essential equipment that helps protect your basement or crawl space from flooding due to water seepage or excessive rain and snowmelt.

Here at MD Sewer, we want to ensure that our clients are informed about the basics of sump pumps, so let’s take a look at what they are and how they work.

How Does A Sump Pump Work?

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What Is A Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a mechanical device that removes water from a lower area and is very useful in crawl space or basement waterproofing. It works by collecting water that has seeped in or been collected from rainfall, snowmelt, or other sources and pumping it out of the area to prevent flooding.

Sump pumps are located in a sump pit, which is an excavation in the ground beneath a building’s foundation where the water accumulates.

The pump’s motor is activated when the water level rises too high and begins to enter the home, and when this happens, it runs until all excess water has been removed.

Most sump pumps also have additional features, such as an alarm system that will alert you if your pump is not working properly or if there is an unusually high amount of incoming water.

In some cases, you can connect these alarms to your home automation systems which will notify you via your smartphone if anything isn’t functioning correctly. Additionally, some sump pumps have integrated battery backups that will take over in case of a power failure and keep your basement safe from flooding.

Investing in a quality sump pump and keeping it on top of its maintenance can save you time, money, and stress by ensuring your basement stays dry during wet weather conditions.

The Types Of Sump Pumps

When it comes to sump pumps, there are several different types available on the market today. The two most common types are the submersible and the pedestal sump pump. However, there are other types of sump pumps, such as the primary sump pump and the battery backup sump pump.

Submersible Sump Pump

The submersible sump pump is the most common type of pump, and it is designed to sit inside a sump pit and be submerged in water. This type of pump is usually activated by a float switch, which will turn on the motor when the water level rises to a certain point.

Submersible pumps are also typically equipped with an extra feature called an oil-filled thermal sensor that helps protect them from overheating and burning out. Additionally, some models include a check valve that prevents the backflow of pumped water if there is ever a power failure.

Submersible Sump Pump

Pedestal Sump Pump

Pedestal pumps are another option for homeowners with smaller pits or limited space in their basements or crawlspace. These pumps sit above the sump pit on a platform or column, allowing their use in shallow pits where submersible pumps cannot reach.

These pumps are typically manually operated and do not require additional features such as float switches or thermal sensors because they don’t operate underwater.

Primary Sump Pump

Primary sump pumps are typically used in large basements where the water table is high and are designed to be installed beneath the floor of your basement. They are more powerful than submersible or pedestal pumps and can pump out larger volumes of water at higher rates.

A float switch usually activates primary sump pumps and has manual or automatic operation settings.

Battery Backup Sump Pump

Battery-operated backup sump pumps are another type of pump that can protect against flooding, even during power outages. Battery backup sump pumps are important as they use rechargeable batteries as their power source and can be hooked up directly to your home’s primary sump pump system so that your backup pump will kick in when the electricity goes out.

The backup sump pump automatically removes excess water from your basement or crawl space until power returns. Battery-powered backup systems are especially helpful for those who live in areas prone to thunderstorms or other natural disasters that can cause rolling blackouts.

In addition to these three traditional types of sump pumps, some newer sump pump systems offer advanced features such as self-cleaning filters, automatic shutoff switches, and wireless remotes for remote operation.

Some also have programmable timers for scheduled operation, integrated alarms for alerting you if something isn’t right with your pump system, and even solar panels for powering the motor without relying on electricity from the grid.

With all these options available today, it’s easy to find a sump pump that best suits your needs and budget!

A detailed diagram of a sump pump

How Does A Sump Pump Work

Sump pumps are essential for any home with a basement or crawlspace, as they protect against flooding due to seepage or excessive precipitation.

While they may seem like complex machinery, understanding how they work can help you keep yours in good working order and avoid costly water damage repairs. Here are 5 steps to understand how sump pumps work.

Water Collects In The Sump Basin Or Pit

A sump pump is typically installed in a sump pit, which is an excavation in the ground beneath a building’s foundation where water accumulates. As this water level rises to a certain point, it triggers the pump’s float switch, activating the motor.

The Float Switch Starts The Motor

The float switch activates the motor and causes it to begin running. This energy-efficient device senses when the water level has reached a certain height and begins pumping out all excess moisture before it can enter your home and cause flooding or other damage.

The Impeller Spins

Once activated, the motor causes an impeller to spin. This impeller is a fan blade that draws the water from the sump basin and pushes it out of your home.

The Impeller Expels The Water

As the impeller spins, it forces the water out of your property through a discharge pipe or hose connected to its outlet side. This pipe then leads away from your home and deposits the excess moisture somewhere else where it can’t cause any damage.

The Cycle Continues

Once the pump has finished its job, it will turn off until the float switch senses that there is more water present and begins pumping again. This cycle will continue throughout wet weather to ensure your basement stays dry and free from flooding or other damage caused by excessive precipitation.

In some cases, additional features such as alarm systems are built into sump pumps to alert homeowners if their pump isn’t working properly or if there is an unusually high amount of incoming water.

Similarly, some sump pumps have integrated battery backups that automatically take over in case of power failure, keeping water off your basement safe from flooding even if your regular power source fails.

Cost of A Sump Pump?

The cost of a sump pump can vary greatly depending on the type and features you choose. For example, the traditional submersible pump that uses an AC motor is typically the most affordable, with prices ranging from around $150 to upwards of $600 or more.

Battery-powered backup pumps are typically more expensive than standard models, with prices starting at around $200 and going up. Meanwhile, newer models with advanced features such as remote operation, alarms, and timers can easily cost several hundred dollars.

In addition to the initial purchase price of your sump pump, it’s important to factor in the potential maintenance costs as well. Depending on how much water your home collects and the frequency you need to use your pump, you may need to replace the impeller or other components more often than usual.

These parts can be inexpensive, but you should still figure them into your budget when shopping for a new sump pump. When considering a sump pump, it’s also important to consider energy efficiency, as this can also impact long-term operating costs.

Traditional AC motors tend to draw more electricity than their DC counterparts, so if you want to save money in the long run, look for a model that runs on battery power or one with an integrated solar panel system.

Lastly, some models come equipped with special features like self-cleaning filters, which can help reduce regular maintenance needs but will add slightly to your purchase price upfront. With so many options available today, it’s easy to find one that meets all your needs at an affordable price!

Do You Need A Sump Pump?

Whether you need a sump pump depends on your particular situation. If your property is in an area that is prone to flooding or you have a low-lying basement that collects water, then sump pump installation is usually recommended.

Also, if you live in an area with heavier-than-average rainfall, it’s a good idea to invest in one of these devices even if you haven’t experienced flooding before, as it’s always better to prepare.

In some cases, building codes or insurance companies may require sump pump installation as part of their requirements for coverage. It never hurts to check with your local government and insurance provider to see what their specific rules are.

Ultimately, whether or not you need one comes down to the risk factors present at your particular location and the amount of money and time you’re willing to invest in preventing potential damage from flooding.

If you decide that a sump pump is a right choice for your home, then it’s important to do some research and find the model that best suits your needs. The right sump pump can make all the difference in protecting your property from water damage!

Sump Pump Maintenance

It’s important to check for any issues and perform regular maintenance regularly to ensure your sump pump is working properly. Regular maintenance of your sump pump should include the following 7 steps:

1. Check the float switch: Make sure it is free from any debris or obstruction and moves up and down freely.

2. Clean out the sump pit: Periodically clean out the sump pit to remove any debris, sediment, or other obstructions that may be preventing your pump from working properly.

3. Check the power source: Ensure that your sump pump is connected to a reliable power source, and check for any frayed wires or signs of wear and tear on the cord.

4. Inspect hoses and pipes: Inspect all hoses, pipes, and connections for any cracks, leaks, or blockages that could prevent your pump from functioning as intended.

5. Check the impeller: Make sure that the impeller is clean from debris and spinning freely.

6. Test the pump: Fill up your sump pit with enough water to trigger the float switch and ensure your pump is working properly.

7. Monitor alarm systems: If you have an alarm system connected to your sump pump, test it periodically to ensure it’s functioning correctly.

Regularly checking and maintaining your sump pump ensures that it continues to work as intended and protects your basement or crawlspace from flooding due to excessive precipitation or seepage. These simple steps can save you thousands of dollars in repairs later down the line!


Sump pumps are essential for preventing water damage in areas prone to flooding. Even if you don’t live in a high-risk area, having a sump pump can still be beneficial as it will help keep your basement or crawlspace dry and free from costly repair bills due to water damage.

Perform regular maintenance, including inspecting the float switch, cleaning out the sump pit, and checking the power source, hoses/pipes, impellers, and alarms connected to your pump to ensure your pump is working properly.

By following these steps regularly, you can rest assured knowing that your home is protected against potential floods!

MD Sewer Can Install The Best Quality Sump Pump For Your Home

MD Sewer & Plumbing offers comprehensive plumbing services, including Sump Pump installation and repairs. We understand the importance of having a reliable sump pump in your home. That’s why we offer top-of-the-line pumps that are designed to stand up to tough conditions and provide years of efficient service.

Whether you need a new system installed or an existing one repaired, our experienced technicians can help. Get in touch today for more information about how we can help keep your basement dry and protect your property from flooding!

Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your home’s sump pumps or other plumbing solutions. Our experts will be happy to answer any of your questions and guide you through the process.

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