How Does a Sump Pump Work: Sump Pump Basics 101

The job of a sump pump is to move the water under an establishment out and help keep it away from associated damages. These particular pumps do their job requiring no rigorous efforts from the owners who have them installed in the bottom of their houses.

About 98% of the basements in America are likely to experience water damages throughout their lifespans, and yet, no better arrangements other than sump pumps are available to prevent these losses from occurring when it comes to cost and other factors.

Needless to say, these small appliances play a crucial role. So, a little bit of knowledge about how does a sump pump work can’t be a waste of time if you are still unaware of it.

How Does a Typical Sump Pump Work?

First, we’ll discuss the location of the pump. Then, we’ll talk about the basic function and the different components it relies on for its operation.

It’s kept in the furthest end of the basement/ crawlspace of a house. We’ll describe a submersible pump since it’s the most popular of all pumps. It sits in a sump pit (otherwise known as a sump basin) that has a gravel base and is dug into the bottom of a crawlspace/basement. The pit can be custom-built or just a bucket.

A typical hole is 24-inch deep and 18-24-inch wide. Slightly deeper like 30 inches with the same width can also be good. Even, a standard 5-gallon bucket (13-inch deep and 10.24-11.80-inch wide) is pretty common in some areas.

Water gets into the pit by a natural migration process through the ground or the drains. Since the capacity of the pit is limited, it gets filled. That’s when the pump starts its function by moving the water out of the sump pit through a pipe that stretches out from the home’s foundation to a place where the liquid can go.

The pipe required in the process uses a check valve, a one-way valve, at the end where it connects to the pump. It’s the valve that prevents the liquid from getting its way back into the sump pit. Thus, the basement is kept dry all year round.

Now, the question is if the pump starts on its own or requires any manual intervention. Well, it works both ways, and that’s why, manual and automatic pumps are available.

Automatic vs. Manual

Both automatic and manual systems are usable with an exception in the feeling of convenience which is significantly affecting their popularity.

Automatic pumps use a pressure sensor or a float activator to sense if it’s duty time. These two components work differently. The best thing about an automatic sump system is that you can activate it manually in case the sensor or float arm fails.

As the load or pressure of water on the sensor becomes higher than that of air, the pump automatically activates. A float activator consists of a buoyant ball and an arm. The ball stays afloat. With the water level rising, it causes the arm to move to activate the pump.

A manual pump works only if someone turns it on while the other factors won’t change that much. Some manual pumps may come with a control panel and a battery backup. Even some are designed to use an automatic switch for uninterrupted operations.

Pump Mechanism

Most sump systems designed for homes comes with a centrifugal pump and an impeller, a device that resembles a fan or a rotor blade and helps increase the liquid flow.

As the motor starts, it generates centrifugal force and causes the impeller to spin and force the accumulated liquid toward the pipe’s sides, forming a low-pressure zone at the center.

This action causes the water from the sump pit to rush and fill the empty space. Then, the spinning impeller pushes the water out through the discharge pipe.

Pump Design

Two choices are out there, such as submersible and pedestal with the former being quieter and the latter being more affordable. You can learn more about them in our ‘Pedestal vs. Submersible’ discussion.

Imagine a long stick that has a notably fat head. That’s what the pedestal in a pump looks like. It keeps the sump pump out of the sump pit, which is why the pump doesn’t touch the water; no matter if the pit gets full. An inlet pipe stretches down into the pit’s bottom and draws the liquid out.

The motor of a submersible pump comes encased in a waterproof cover so that it can stay and work underwater without a problem. This manner of action also allows it to operate almost quietly.

Using a special sensor, a submersible pump detects any situation involving escalating water levels within the pit. As the water reaches a certain point, the sensor goes on to activate the motor. Then, the task of an impeller becomes relevant, which has been explained above.

Power Source

Home sump pumps run on the standard household current, which means that you needn’t bother about specialized wiring other than a grounded outlet.

Due to the pump’s location being in or near a wet area, you should choose a GFCI or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter on the outlet to protect the pump from accidental electrocution.

You may want more than just one pump. There, you can invest in a backup alongside your main sump system. Unlike the primary pump, the secondary pump relies on its own batteries which allow for several hours of operation on a single charge.

Once its battery dies; you need to recharge it. This additional system is designed to operate in the event of the main’s failure or power outage. Based upon the need, many households want something like that while others don’t.

Final Words

So, that’s our detailed overview of how does a sump pump work. Hopefully, it helps you figure out things about buying, using, maintaining, and replacing a pump. Feel free to shoot us a message if you need to know more about these pumps or cost-effective ways to deal with a flooded basement.

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