Originally posted 11/16/2018, updated 3/1/2021
If you’ve never lived in a house with a basement, you probably haven’t ever seen a sump pump. You might not know what it looks like, even if you do have one in your basement. They’re not an exciting tool to have, they only serve one purpose, and as long as they work you don’t give them any thought. But a sump pump that stops working can cause you tremendous stress- no one wants a flooded basement.
Acculevel is a foundation company that specializes in basement and crawl space waterproofing. Since our start in 1996, we’ve waterproofed and repaired foundations for more than 30,000 satisfied customers throughout the Midwest. We exclusively install sump pumps made by Wayne Pumps, a manufacturer based out of Northern Indiana.
We understand that a sump pump is an essential component to any water drainage system, and want homeowners to be well-informed when shopping for this equipment. In this article, we’ll explain what a sump pump is, what it does, which features you should consider, and provide resources to help you select the right one for you.
What is a Sump Pump?
A sump pump is a piece of equipment designed specifically to remove water from a basement or crawl space. There are two main types, pedestal and submersible. As you might expect from the names, a pedestal pump sits on the basement floor and a submersible pump is set into the floor.
Most waterproofing contractors, Acculevel included, recommend that you use a submersible sump pump. While pedestal versions are less expensive, even the best pedestal model can’t compete with a submersible in performance. Submersible sump pumps evacuate more water at a faster rate, when compared to a pedestal.
Back Up Pump or Battery Backup?
Sometimes, contractors will recommend that you have a backup pump, in case the first one fails. This isn’t a bad idea, but it’s not the best solution, either. In most cases, that backup pump is just a smaller version of the primary one.
Acculevel recommends that you install a battery backup to your primary pump; in fact, we include a battery backup with every sump pump we install. Since this backup has an alternate power source, it will kick on even if your home loses power.
Here in the Midwest, the most common reason for a power outage is weather. If a heavy rainstorm is sending water into your basement or crawl space and you lose power, having a second electric pump is not going to help you. But if you have a battery backup, that will keep your drainage system running until your utilities can be restored (assuming the outage doesn’t exceed the battery’s limits).
In the past, you had to go into your basement and visibly look (or listen) to determine if your sump pump was working. But technology develops constantly, and there are truly apps on your phone or tablet for just about everything. This can include your sump pump, if you’d like it to!
Some pumps now include sensors that alert your mobile device when there’s an issue with the pump, if the power is out, or if the battery backup has been engaged. The sump pump system Accuevel installs includes text alerts as an option.
If the pump itself doesn’t include this feature, there are types of alarms you can buy and install separately that will alert you when a certain water level has been reached. Acculevel also offers an alarm system that alerts you when the pump is not working, or running on the backup.
Two Are Better Than One
Yes, I recommended a battery backup instead of a back up pump in an earlier section. But we’re not talking about a back up pump as a failsafe. There are a number of circumstances that warrant two fully functional sump pumps working simultaneously.
If you live in an area with a high water table, near floodplains or bodies of water, you may get a higher volume of water in your basement or crawl space. That higher volume might require either a heavy duty or multiple standard size pumps. We’ve also worked on homes that have both a basement and a crawl space. It’s usually most efficient to have a sump pump installed in each area, because they need different types of water drainage. And we estimate 2500 square feet for a typical home, so if you have a larger house you might need a second pump.
- Is your sump pump making an odd sound? We explain the most common noises and their causes in this blog.
- Not sure if your sump pump is working? This checklist walks you through the testing process.
- We review the most common mistakes that homeowners make with a sump pump in this article.
- If you need to replace your sump pump, but aren’t sure which one to buy, you can find our recommendations for the best sump pumps of 2021 here.
Do You Need More Information about Waterproofing & Sump Pumps?
Please use our waterproofing guide for homeowners. We developed (and regularly update) a detailed document that addresses questions we often receive from our own customers. The guide is meant to be a regular resource, so bookmark it for your future reference. Divided into sections, each chapter reviews a specific topic: why your basement leaks, repair options, drainage types, costs, and more.