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How Do Sump Pumps Work and Why Do We Need Them?

Jan 09, 2020


Sump pumps are a valuable tool for homeowners, but not everyone knows what they are or how they work. In fact, one of the most frequent questions we get asked is “Do I need a sump pump?” The thing about sump pumps is, often by the the time you realize you need one it's too late and the damage has already been done.

That’s we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to educate people on this topic and help you determine whether or not your home needs a sump pump.

What are Sump Pumps?

A sump pump is a small pump designed to remove water and moisture from homes. They’re usually located in basements or crawlspaces, where water is most likely to collect. Sump pumps have been installed in homes for years, especially in low-lying areas that are more prone to flooding.

Today, sump pumps are common in most homes and are usually a fixture in new builds. Even homes that aren’t at a high risk of flooding often employ them to reduce the risk of water damage and mould.

In fact, there are laws in some municipalities that require all homes to have a sump pump, so it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with local legislation and determine whether this is a requirement in your area.

How Do Sump Pumps Work?

Sump pumps are usually installed in a sump pit. This is a hole in the floor where water is directed to, either by drains or a sloped surface. Sump pits are generally two feet deep and 18 inches in diameter, but sizes can vary.

Once the pit fills up with water, the sump pump is activated using an automated flotation system or a pressure sensor. With a float activator, a buoyant ball is lifted by rising water levels, similar to the system used in toilets. Pressure sensors work by measuring pressure, as the name suggests. Water exerts more pressure than air, so as water levels in the pit rise the pump is activated.

Sump pumps can also be designed to be turned on manually. In this case, homeowners monitor water levels in the pit and turn the pump on manually when they see fit. Most automatic sump pumps have a manual option as well in case the flotation system or pressure sensor ever fail.

Sump pumps use a centrifugal pump to transport water. These pumps utilize an impeller to create centrifugal force which forces water towards the sides of the pipe, leading to a low-pressure area at the centre. Water is naturally drawn to low-pressure areas, so water from the pit will rush in to fill the void. Once it’s inside, the impeller forces the water down the pipe.

The water is then pumped through a hose and transported outside where it’s deposited in an area where it will flow away from the foundation.

Different Types of Sump Pumps

There are two different types of sump pumps: Submersible pumps and pedestal pumps.

Submersible pumps sit right in the water inside the sump pit. The actual pump is located at the bottom of the device with a grate or screen used to keep larger debris out and prevent any clogs. Water is sucked through the bottom and pumped out an outlet pipe at the top. Submersible pumps are encased in water-proofed material to keep the internal motor dry.

A pedestal pump sits above the water, with a hose that stretches down into the water. Water is drawn out of the pit through the hose and then pumped out the outlet pipe. Because pedestal pumps don’t sit in the water there’s no water-proofing required, making them cheaper. However, they are usually much louder than submersible pumps.

Do I Need a Sump Pump?

Generally, unless you live in an extremely dry area with little or no precipitation, it’s always a good idea to install a sump pump in your home. However, if you’re really not sure, here are five different signs that you need a sump pump:

Your Home Has Flooded Before

This is the most obvious sign that you need a sump pump. Any home that has flooded before will likely flood again at some point. Floods not only cause serious damage to both your home and your valuables, but they can also lead to mould and mildew which are serious health risks to you and your family.

If your home has ever experienced a flood before make sure to install a sump pump to help lessen the damage in the future.

Your Basement or Crawlspace is Prone to Moisture

A little bit of moisture may seem like an insignificant problem, but over time it can start to pool and lead to water damage and mould. If your home is prone to moisture it’s also likely that it could flood in the future.

Moisture often enters homes through the foundation, coming up from underneath and seeping through the floor. To check to see if you have a problem with moisture, tape down some plastic on the floor of your basement or crawlspace and then check it after a day or two. If you find any moisture under the plastic then water is getting into your home.

Installing a basement sump pump or a crawlspace sump pump will keep these areas dry and free from any negative effects caused by moisture. It will also make sure you’re prepared in case the worst happens and you experience a flood.

You Live in a Low-Lying Area

Low lying areas, especially those that have soil that traps moisture, are more prone to floods. Assess the area and the land your house is built on to determine whether or not you’re at risk of flooding before deciding if you need a sump pump.

You Get a Lot of Rain and Snow

The primary cause of flooding and water damage is rain and snow. So, if you live in an area that receives a large amount of precipitation it’s more likely you could face a flood in the future. If you live in one of these areas, a sump pump is always a smart choice.

You Keep Costly Items and Valuables in Your Basement

The truth is, virtually every home is at risk of some form of water damage. If you have a nicely furnished basement, or you keep a large number of valuables down there, a sump pump is a great investment. Don’t risk losing your possessions to water damage. Install a sump pump in order to give yourself peace of mind.

Romaniuk Has Been Installing Sump Pumps for 30 Years

As mentioned earlier, installing a sump pump in your home is always a good idea. It’s not just flash flooding and water damage you should be worried about. Even a little bit of moisture can lead to mould, and over time it can start eating away at your foundation. A sump pump is a simple solution to remove water and prevent this from happening.

Romaniuk has been installing sump pumps in homes all over Edmonton for the last 30 years. We can assess your home and determine the best possible solution to help you keep your basement or crawlspace dry and free of moisture.

Contact Us Today for Your Free Quote

Feel free to contact Romaniuk with any questions and concerns you have about sump pumps. We’re happy to provide you with all the information you need, and will even give you a free quote for installation.