Whether you think your house is at risk of flooding or not, you should know that more than 60 percent of homes in America suffer from water issues beneath the ground. A sump pump serves as an important piece of insurance against the chance of a flood occurring, whether it’s a plumbing flood or water infiltration due to foundation damage or other leaks. You want your basement or crawl space to be functional spaces in your home and a sump pump, in addition to other waterproofing measures, safeguards that functionality.
What is a sump pump and how does it work?
A sump pump is a small pump that we install in the lowest part of your basement or crawl space. Usually these are put into specially designed “sump pits.” This ensures the water is directed into the pit instead of the rest of your basement and makes it easy for the sump pump to remove it. The pump is activated by water filling the pit and triggering a float activator or pressure sensor and it pumps the water through pipes so it can drain away from your foundation.
Types of sump pumps
There are two main types of sump pumps you can choose from. Both are powered by electricity using a standard household current, though we recommend a ground fault circuit interrupter considering the sump pump is always in or around water.
Submersible sump pumps
A submersible sump pump is about three feet tall and rests in the water. Encased in a waterproof housing, the pump is at the bottom of the unit and the outlet pipe is near the top. A grate covers the bottom of the pump so debris isn’t sucked up into it. Submersible sump pumps are quiet.
Pedestal sump pumps
Pedestal sump pumps sit upon a pipe stand that keeps the pump itself from being submerged in water even if the sump pump pit is full. The pipe reaches into the bottom of the pit to draw the water up and out. Because the motor is not submerged, pedestal sump pumps are louder than submersible sump pumps. They are, however, a less expensive option. It should also be noted that while it is normal to hear some noise while your sump pump is functioning, listen for thuds, grinding, rattling, or other jarring noises that signal a problem.
Other sump pump options
Beyond the basics of whether you want a submersible or pedestal sump pump, there are various other options you can keep in mind when considering a new sump pump.
- Backup and alarm systems
- Cord length
- Manual or automatic
Do you need a sump pump?
Chances are you need a sump pump whether you realize there is water infiltrating your home or not. Does your basement or crawl space have a slight musty smell to it? That’s from moisture. One way to find out if you are having issues with your basement getting wet is to tape a piece of plastic onto a surface for a couple of days. If the underside of the plastic is wet when you check it, you have moisture problems. We can help you determine what extent of repair your problems will require and whether you need any other types of remediation before a new sump pump is installed.
We especially recommend sump pump installation in the following instances:
- Your home rests at the bottom of a hill
- Your basement is prone to flooding or has flooded before
- Your basement is finished
- Your basement stores items that could be ruined by mold or water
- You live in an area with significant rain or snowfall
Why sump pumps are essential to every waterproofing system:
- Prevent flooding from multiple causes, including weather and plumbing leaks
- Act as a reliable backup when other components of a waterproofing system fail
- Prevents mold and mildew growth and controls humidity, thus improving indoor air quality
- Protects against fire hazards, property damage, and other risks that flooding presents
Sump Pump Repair and Replacement
A sump pump that’s in dire need of repair is as good as no sump pump at all. Rather than waiting until it’s too late, it’s important to call a sump specialist as soon as you’re concerned about your sump pump’s ability to function optimally. Whether it’s your sump pit, battery, or the sump pump itself, USS TN is here to provide sump pump repair, maintenance, and replacement.
Signs that you may need sump pump repair:
- Mold growth or musty odors: Mold growth and musty odors, which typically come hand-in-hand, are a sign that your basement or crawl space is suffering from excess moisture. Your sump pump should be inspected to ensure it is working properly—if it’s not, it may be the culprit of your humid lower-levels.
- Thumping or other strange noises: Most modern sump pump systems are quiet. If you start hearing strange noises coming from your sump pump, it’s time to call a sump pump specialist to inspect your machine for damage or hazards.
- Improperly functioning float switch: When your sump pit fills with water, it’s the float switch that kicks on the sump pump system. If the float switch isn’t working properly, your system won’t pump the water out from the sump pit. To test your float switch, pour some water into the pit—if the sump pump doesn’t get started even when the water is high enough, call a specialist.
How often do sump pumps need to be replaced?
A sump pump is not an item that is expected to last the entire life of the home it is installed in. If you’ve moved into a home that already has a sump pump installed – which is likely – it’s important to have the sump pump inspected for any problems that could lead to a lack of functionality and put you at risk of flooding. We can assess the condition of your existing sump pump and determine if sump pump repair or a total sump pump replacement is the right move for you. The life of a sump pump depends upon how often it is being used, how far the water has to be pumped, the quality of the pump itself, and the source of the electricity powering the pump. Generally, your sump pump will be equipped with a battery-operated alarm. This sump pump alarm alerts you if something in the pump isn’t working properly. If you want to test the function of your sump pump before expecting heavy rains, you can pour a bucket of water into the pit to make sure the pump is removing water as it should. If it isn’t, call USS!
Sump Pump FAQ
I’m buying a house—is a sump pump a bad sign?
In most cases, a preexisting sump pump is actually a good sign, indicating that the previous homeowner took the necessary steps to protect their basement or crawl space from water damage. That being said, your home inspection should reveal any previous issues with water. You should also check the age of the sump pump to determine if it will need to be replaced soon.
What if I already have a leaking basement?
If you’re already struggling with water leaking in your basement or crawl space, USS TN is here to help. We can perform any repair and waterproofing services you need, as well as install a new sump pump system to ensure that you won’t have to worry about a basement that leaks for years to come.