Sump Pump Buyer’s Guide
A sump pump is an effective system that can help prevent flooding in your home by offering reliable water removal through a discharge pipe. Sump pumps are especially beneficial to homes with finished basements and houses in areas prone to heavy flooding. Adding a sump pump to your home can help protect your home’s foundation and basement appliances, keep your basement dry and prevent mold. There are many styles of sump pumps, each offering unique advantages, that are ideal for different applications.
What Is a Sump Pump?
A sump pump is a water removal system placed in a sump pit at the home’s lowest point, typically a crawlspace or the basement. A sump pump removes excess water and prevents basement flooding. In most cases, a sump pump is on standby mode, waiting to activate when it is needed.
If it begins to rain heavily, the soil around your home becomes heavily saturated. As excess water collects, it begins to funnel toward the sump pit and fill it with water. Once the water collects to the preset level, the float switch of the sump pump will activate, turning on the pump.
The sump pump aids in water removal, draining water from the pit into a nearby retention pond, storm drain or dry well. A sump pump can prevent excess groundwater from rising into your basement or home. Some of the most common applications of a sump pump include:
- Your home is located on flood-prone land.
- You have experienced home flooding before.
- You live in a climate where heavy snow and rain are common.
- You have a finished basement.
Benefits of a Sump Pump
A sump pump can protect your home from damage and eliminate the need for potentially expensive repairs in the future. Some of the main benefits of installing a sump pump include:
- Preventing basement flooding.
- Safeguarding your foundation.
- Ensuring your basement is dry and comfortable.
- Protecting your basement appliances.
- Reducing mildew, mold and fungus.
- Enjoying peace of mind.
A sump pump will prevent mold, mildew and fungus, which can be dangerous to your health and expensive to remove. Additionally, it can protect your home’s foundation and any valuable belongings you store in your basement, including furniture if your basement is finished.
Comparing Different Types of Sump Pumps
There are numerous types of sump pumps, each with unique benefits and special features. Understanding the differences between sump pump systems can help you determine which system is right for your needs.
Submersible vs. Pedestal Sump Pump Types
When comparing a pedestal or submersible sump pump system, you should consider these pros and cons:
- Submersible advantages: A submersible sump pump is installed inside the home. It is placed in the home’s lowest level, a basement or crawlspace, where flooding is most likely to occur. A submersible sump pump is always put below water, meaning it takes up little to no space. The water helps to cool the motor and absorb excess noise. Submersible sump pumps are incredibly powerful and efficient. They effectively remove water from your home, which makes them an ideal choice for high-flood areas.
- Submersible disadvantages: While submersible pumps are efficient and effective, they may be harder to access for routine maintenance. Submersion in water may also lead to faster wear and tear on the system. Because of the sound suppression, it may be difficult to gauge whether a submersible system is operating properly or not.
- Pedestal advantages: Pedestal sump pumps are one of the easiest systems to install and maintain. While a submersible pump sits underwater, a pedestal pump’s base rests at the bottom of the sump pit while the motor is above water. This allows easy access to the system. Pedestal pumps also tend to be a cost-effective option that experiences less wear and tear for increased longevity.
- Pedestal disadvantages: While pedestal sump pumps are extremely beneficial, there are certain aspects you should consider and be aware of before selecting this system. These systems are designed for lighter workloads, meaning a pedestal pump may need additional time to redirect water when compared to submersible systems. In cases of severe flooding or high levels of water, a pedestal sump pump may not be as efficient as a submersible system. Since the motor is above water, pedestal pumps are noisier than submersibles, and the motor is not cooled by water. An additional aspect to consider is space. As pedestal pumps are not hidden like submersible pumps, they require extra space.
Cast Iron vs. Aluminum Sump Pump
When comparing aluminum and cast-iron sump pumps, you may want to consider:
- Cast iron advantages: Cast iron sump pumps are a strong, durable option designed to be long-lasting. In addition to being strong, cast-iron sump pumps can effectively distribute heat to maximize cooling capabilities. Generally, cast-iron sump pumps are considered a better long-term investment due to their durability.
- Cast iron disadvantages: Because cast-iron sump pumps are durable and sturdy, they can be more expensive than other sump pump options. Cast iron sump pumps, like any other type of pump, may show signs of wear and tear, such as corrosion.
- Aluminum advantages: Aluminum sump pumps are strong, durable and typically more resistant to corroding than cast-iron sump pumps. Aluminum sump pumps are also generally low maintenance and can withstand high temperatures. In general, aluminum is an excellent material for submersible and surface sump pumps.
- Aluminum disadvantages: While aluminum sump pumps are durable, they may also be susceptible to wear and tear and might be slightly less durable than cast iron sump pumps. Aluminum does not dissipate heat as well as cast iron. This means the motor will retain more heat, and therefore its longevity will be reduced.
What to Consider When Choosing a Sump Pump
The sump pump best for your home will depend on how much water your house is exposed to, among other factors. Homes in locations prone to heavy flooding will typically need a stronger sump pump. When selecting a sump pump, you may want to consider these important aspects:
1. Switch Type
Float switches signal the pump to begin working when water levels reach a certain point. There are many different types of float switches, including:
- Tethered sump pump switches: A tethered switch can be piggybacked or internally wired and is an ideal choice because it is easy to use and efficient. Tethered switches use a holding ball attached to the basin lid or pump and a spherical float.
- Vertical sump pump switches: Vertical sticks employ a piggyback plug that is adjustable and suitable for many common installations. A vertical switch uses a rod, float and switch in a small housing that attaches the body of the pump to the discharge pipe. Once the water reaches a certain level in the sump basin, the float rises with it, activating the switch at a certain height. When the water drains, the switch will disengage to turn off the pump.
Three types of vertical sump pump switches include the solid core float, electromagnetic switch and blub float switch. The solid core float is the most reliable switch type found on premium pumps because it will not waterlog or crack. The blub float switch is found on pedestal pumps.
The strength of a sump pump is measured in horsepower. While ⅓ horsepower is generally effective for the majority of homes, a higher horsepower may be needed for some locations. For example, homeowners in an area more prone to heavy flooding may want to purchase a sump pump with a ½ horsepower motor.
The housing of a sump pump also plays an important role in its efficiency and effectiveness. In general, stronger materials tend to experience less wear and tear and are more durable, making them an ideal long-term investment. Some common housing materials for sump pumps include cast iron, aluminum and thermoplastic. Cast iron is typically stronger than aluminum and thermoplastic, but aluminum will not rust over time as cast-iron pumps will.
4. Special Features
There are many special features and beneficial aspects of sump pumps. These systems can be made out of corrosion-resistant thermoplastic or long-lasting cast iron for added longevity. One of the most popular sump pump special features are alarms, which are designed to alert users when water levels reach a problematic level or the pump malfunctions.
Some sump pumps systems come with silent check valves that eliminate the sounds a sump pump makes when the system shuts off and closes the check valve. These systems may also be referred to as klunkless valves.
5. Backups/Combination Sump Pumps
A battery backup pump can be extremely beneficial for some homeowners and activate if the primary pump stops working from a mechanical failure or complete power outage. Our battery backup systems use a maintenance-free, deep-cycle marine battery.
6. Power Sources
Another important aspect of selecting a sump pump system is choosing the appropriate power source. Some of the most common power sources for sump pumps include the following:
- Electrical: One of the most widely used power sources for sump pumps is electrical. While these systems are extremely beneficial, it is important to note they will not be able to work if the power goes out due to flooding or inclement weather.
- Water-powered: As water-powered pumps do not operate on batteries or electricity, they are relatively maintenance-free. Generally, water-powered sump pumps are only recommended in homes with a constant pound-force per square inch (psi) of 40 to 100 water supply. Water-powered pumps should not be used to substitute primary sump pump systems or in cases of electrically powered well water systems.
Sump Pump Maintenance
Sump pump system testing and maintenance are incredibly important to ensure your system is running properly and without complications. Routine sump pump system testing can minimize the risks of sump pump failure and detect complications in their earliest stages, allowing for timely updates. The first step to maintaining a sump pump system is to ensure your sump pump is operating and removing water. You can also:
- Ensure the sump pump is connected securely and receiving power.
- Remove any debris or dirt from the discharge lines.
- Pour water into the discharge line to dislodge debris.
- Lift the float switch to test and see if the pump is activated.
These steps can help you maintain your sump pump system, but you may also want to consider contacting a professional for sump pump maintenance.
Sump Pump Alternatives
While sump pumps are highly effective, there are certain alternatives you can also consider while waiting for sump pump installation. For example, you can fix rain gutters to redirect rain away from your crawlspace or basement.
You may also want to consider placing an outdoor curtain drain, which is a trench filled with gravel and a perforated pipe to help redirect water away from your home. Finally, concrete re-leveling can lift concrete that is uneven, reducing the risk of water pooling near the home.
You should consider all options when determining how to prevent water from entering your home. While a sump pump and sump pump alternative are both effective, it is often recommended to combine these efforts to greatly reduce the chance of flooding.
Star Water Systems Sump Pumps
Star Water Systems is a leading provider of sump pumps with decades of experience developing and manufacturing state-of-the-art water systems. We remain committed to offering our clients the highest quality products possible. Our comprehensive line of sump pumps include:
- Contractor-grade sump pumps: Our contractor-grade sump pumps feature a high-efficiency motor, Vortex impeller for clog prevention and a one- to three-year limited warranty. These sump pumps also feature stainless steel components, a corrosion-resistant epoxy finish and thermal overload protection.
- Cast iron sump pumps: Cast iron sump pumps have durable cast iron motor housing and stainless steel hardware. Another benefit of cast-iron sump pumps is an anti-clog vortex impeller and overload-protected motor. They also include a one- to a three-year limited warranty.
- Cast aluminum sump pumps: These systems feature a heat-resistant cast aluminum body and an energy-efficient motor for reliable operation. With a one-year limited warranty, a cast aluminum sump pump comes with built-in thermal overload protection and a double-sealed cord.
- Column sump pumps: A column sump pump has a secure, durable impeller shaft, heavy-duty motor, clog-resistant, multi-vane impeller and a one-year limited warranty. Thermal overload protection helps prevent overheating, and the system offers intermittent and continuous operation.
Protect Your Home With a Sump Pump
Protect your home from water damage with an effective sump pump. Keep your basement dry and comfortable, and prevent damaging mold, mildew and fungus. Protect your home’s foundation and basement appliances so you can have peace of mind. A sump pump will remove damaging water before it causes issues within your home, and it will prevent the need for future repairs and mold removal.
At Star Water Systems, we carry a wide assortment of water supply solutions. We are dedicated to offering efficient and dependable water systems that exceed our customers’ expectations. In addition to sump pumps, we offer utility pumps, sewage pumps, well pumps, pool pumps and more.