Homeowners in America experience wet basement issues for several reasons, and a lot of them suffer due to just one reason that their sump pumps went out of order and they just didn’t have the slightest clue how or when.
You can be proud of a pump that serves you a decade or longer. But eventually, it needs to be replaced, and when it does, you shouldn’t delay just because you’re afraid of the labor and cost involved.
To simplify the project, we’ve brought you a complete guide. If you’ve done the first-time installation on your own, this guide won’t be difficult to understand. It’s also suitable for those who are doing it as a beginner.
How to Replace a Sump Pump: Things To Consider At First
Since sump pump replacement is a project that presents technicalities as critical as some of those involved in a new installation, you can’t jump right onto the actual steps for replacement without figuring out certain details.
Before you throw your old pump away and replace it with a brand-new sump pump unit, try to understand every single factor associated with the project; so the whole thing doesn’t become a failure.
How Often to Replace Your Sump Pump?
Like every home appliance and electrical/mechanical unit for home, sump pumps have also gone considerable improvements over the years.
While old pumps wouldn’t work well longer than 4-5 years due to their high susceptibility to corrosion and quick freezing, newer pumps come with iron and steel housing and shafts, sealed motors, and other corrosion-resistant parts. These materials significantly add to the pump’s life, possibly twice as long or a few more years, but they can’t really prevent it from dying out in the long run.
You may expect a decade of peace (without the concerns for another replacement), but it actually depends on some factors besides the build quality.
- How frequently and for how long does the pump run?
- How far does your pump need to take the pumped water to the discharge point?
- What power source(s) does it use?
- How frequently and carefully do you maintain it?
Most manufacturers suggest that sumps should be replaced every five to six years. Homeowners who have enthusiasm can keep a unit up and running by means of thorough maintenance. Floats and switches usually break down a lot quicker (often a couple of years) than other parts. Annual inspection and tweaks may help you keep them functional for a little longer.
When NOT to Wait for the Average Lifespan to Pass?
With the least amount of effort to inspect, clean, and maintain a sump pump, you shouldn’t wait until you have a completely dead system.
But how can you tell it’s time for a change? Well, check your pump with each moving part to see if any of these points becomes too obvious to ignore.
- Strange noises (Read our extensive guide on Noise Problems)
- Excessive vibration (during operation)
- Continuously running (check this article to know more)
- Cycling on/off (more frequently than once or twice in a while)
- Frequently motor failures
- Heavy rust on the moving parts and/or housing
- Age (longer than 7-10 years)
Can You Do It Alone?
You may have the energy to undertake a replacement job. What if the new system is being installed with a drain tile system? You can do better with extra helping hands. With a perfectly working drain tile system in place, you won’t be struggling just because you’re doing it alone.
Sump Pump Replacement Cost
The cost of the project can be between $400 and $600. This includes the cost of a new pump which should be $60-$180 for a pedestal type and $100-$400 for a submersible style.
The size of your budget depends on the model and year of the pump you choose. Again, the motor and overall capacity of a sump system are important to the cost factor.
Hiring a basement waterproofing expert would cost you anywhere between $100 and $200. A plumber can also be consulted, but that might cost you some more bucks.
Getting the Right Replacement and Other Tools
If it’s a pump that is being replaced has given you a history of great performance, you should stick to that very model or brand. Remember that the specs of your pump and the setup are associated with its efficiency. So, you can’t fail to choose the correct size.
A different model with higher specs can also be a good choice where your basement has critical flooding issues. Some homeowners simply want a new pump that handles more gallons of water. It’s not an imprudent move either.
Unless you’re looking at the exact same model, you should check the following factors out even though your brand choice is the same.
- Choose submersible for all-around product values. Pedestal pumps are good for higher cost-efficiency.
- A pump that can handle around 1,800 gallons per hour (GPH) should be okay. Higher capacity like 2,000 GPH or more can also be suitable for a home located in one of the wettest locations.
- Most households don’t need anything more powerful than 1/2-HP pumps. If you’ve already tried that and now a beefier unit seems to be the key, there’re 3/4-HP motors to choose from.
- A sump pump works well having both vertical and tethered switches. Choose the former for better adjustability and a small basin. The latter requires a wide basin but is still good for its simplicity.
- Plastic pumps are lightweight, economical, and corrosion-resistant while cast iron pumps are known for their efficiency in heat distribution. However, a mix of cast iron and stainless steel makes the most reliable pump housing and moving parts.
Wait, does your sump system include a backup pump? Are you thinking of a backup along with the primary pump? Check another article to learn a thing or two about a backup system, just in case you don’t know already.
Answers to these questions make another side to this particular discussion. Well, add the following points to your list of considerations.
- Pumps that use AGM batteries are preferable to those using deep cycle batteries.
- While choosing construction materials, you don’t have to take a different route other than the one you should take for the main pump.
- Remember the pumping output of the main pump before deciding on the same of a backup. Make sure the capacities of both pumps are close.
- AC/DC pumps are more reliable than the ones that rely on DC only. You’ll certainly want the backup to be able to run off the wall current when its battery dies.
Beware of These Matters Too!
- Some pumps may bump frequently against the sump’s sides. This usually happens when there’s a problem with the sump size.
- Many sump systems require special discharge systems that may necessitate the replacement of PVC connectors or pipes.
- Either the impeller or the float of a primary pump may interfere with those of a secondary unit. A reverse thing may occur. Make sure no such things happen.
Some homeowners just hate to go over all these separately. If you happen to be one of them, just pick a high-quality combination sump system because the market is having tons of these modern units.
Sump pump replacement, if it has to be done correctly, requires a few more tools or parts. Go through the following points to choose them wisely.
Most PVC pipes are 1-1/2″ NPT (National Pipe Thread). With the other parts of your plumbing system compatible with the replacement unit, you may not want more than 2-3 ft. of PVC pipes.
As a pump stops and water pressure in your PVC pipes is no more, water may flow back into your sump. Here, a check valve plays its part by preventing that backflow. Keeping the old check valve, if it’s still functional, is good, but getting a new valve is better. When you do that, remember these.
- Check the speed at which your pump causes the water to move and pick up a check valve that can cope up with that speed.
- Silent check valves are preferable to the regular ones because you don’t need to hear noises as it closes.
- Metal valves are stronger and more durable than plastic builds.
- Locate the pipe connected to your sump pump and find out its diameter. Choose the diameter of the new check valve in accordance with the pipe’s diameter.
You need this particular component for connecting one piece of PVC with another. It’s attached at the very point of the old pipe where it meets the new one.
A replacement job may involve as many steps as required by a first-time installation. But you should use eye protection, rubber gloves, boots, and anything that seems necessary for personal safety.
Assuming that you’ve chosen a submersible or pedestal pump, we’re going to explain the procedures separately because of the specific requirements of each type. However, the essential supplies and tools that you’ll need are pretty much the same. Look at this complete list of items you need for the task.
- A New Pump
- PVC Pipe (Threaded)
- 2 Pipe wrenches
- Flathead Screwdriver
- Hack Saw
- Rake or Shovel
- Check Valve (Slip Fit)
- Union Connector
- White Cement
- Glue and PVC Primer
- Measuring Tape
- Jackhammer (Optional)
9 Steps to Replace a Pedestal Sump Pump
- Unplug your old pump from its electrical outlet and disconnect the discharge line from it. Do it carefully to avoid any damage to the wire.
- There might be either threaded or unthreaded fitting that consists of a valve or a union. Use the wrench to hold the pipe. Then, rotate the whole fitting counterclockwise. Keep doing it for as long as it takes the pipe to separate from its threaded union. Finally, twist that pipe counterclockwise until it gets off the pump.
- For unthreaded fitting, use a hacksaw to cut straight through the PVC pipe and twist it out of your pump using a pipe wrench. You can keep whatever’s left of the pipe for further use.
- Hold the motor to lift your pump. The pedestal’s neck can also be used, but don’t try it by the power cord. This is how you can take out the existing pump.
- Use a rake/shovel to level the basin’s bottom. Lower your new pump into that pit (basin) and rest its base on the pit’s bottom.
- You need to measure how far the bottom (from inside) of your threaded fitting is from the existing discharge pipe. The fitting sits on the pedestal base. Use this distance to cut a portion of the PVC pipe. Thread that portion into the pump’s discharge fitting.
- Now, you have to prime the current discharge pipe and the non-threaded one. Locate the holes on your check valve and prime both. Glue either of the holes and discharge pipe’s end. Then, slide the check valve onto that pipe and hold it for a few seconds to allow the glue to set and have the valve secured.
- It’s time to prime the remaining hole along with the threaded pipe and slide that pipe into the check valve. Hold it for 5-6 seconds.
- Connect your pump to the power source and see if it starts.
13 Steps to Replace a Submersible Sump Pump
- Remove the lid (if any) on your old pump and put it aside.
- Unplug all electric cables and disconnect everything that uses electricity.
- Locate the existing PVC pipe that should run through your pump. Use a hacksaw to cut out that pipe at the point where your new submersible pump will sit. The typical length to cut is 3 feet and the diameter is at least 1.50 inches.
- Hold the pump’s handle to lift it out of your sump basin. Lay the pump level.
- Use the measuring tape to find out how long the pipe runs.
- Use some cement and primer to seal connectors on the PVC pipe. Allow it to dry in the open air.
- Cut the pipe another time exactly at the point where it stays along the pump’s top.
- Locate the pump’s discharge line and its male connector. Attach the new cut of the PVC to this connector.
- Put your new sump pump in a bucket full of water. Start the pump to see if water runs through the discharge line properly. Upon seeing any blockage, you can clear that off using a wire strip.
- Insert the new pump into your sump liner located inside the basin. The pump must be kept level with the float switch well away from the basin’s walls and the float having no friction against other parts.
- You should attach a new check valve to the pipe’s ends ensuring the correct position of the arrow guides on the valve. Incorrectly positioned indicators may result in a broken valve.
- Now, you’ve got another length of your PVC pipe and another tip of your check valve. Connect these two parts properly.
- Your basement or crawlspace has another plumbing line. The ends of a PVC pipe need to be attached securely to that line.
Test Your Pedestal/Submersible Pump after Replacement
This step allows you to know whether you’ve been able to carry out the replacement successfully or not.
- Use a standard bucket with the capacity of at least 5 gallons.
- Pour the water fully into the newly installed pump.
- This will allow the pump to start cycling.
- Attach the power cable along with other essential cables to a power supply.
- Then the electric current needs to be switched on.
- Observe how your pump pumps the water and takes it out of the sump basin.
Can You Replace a Pedestal Pump with a Submersible Pump?
Both pedestal and submersible sumps are popular except only the latter being more. After using either of them for years, you might want to take a chance with the remaining type, and that’s alright.
A pedestal pump includes a long shaft that stretches through its column. The motor of the pump sits where this shaft ends. Thus, the motor rests above the water.
On the other hand, submersibles use a watertight housing to have the pump and the motor inside, so that the entire unit can be submerged in the pit.
So, the only differences between the two replacements lie only in the steps that allow the motor to be either in or above the water. For further knowledge, you can go through the differences in details.
Now that we’ve talked about the replacement procedures at length, we would like you to reflect on another scenario. What if your primary sump works fine, but the backup doesn’t? You may want to use the above information, but replacing a backup pump is slightly different.
Here, you’ll know about two specific types, such as battery-powered and water-powered backup sump pumps.
9 Steps to Replace a Backup Sump Pump
- Remove the existing backup pump from your sump pit.
- Use Teflon tape to your check valve’s threads and tighten it onto the side of the primary pump.
- Use Teflon tape to wrap around the pump’s threads and tighten the battery-powered (backup) pump onto a new check valve. Place both of your pumps into the pit.
- Cut through the PVC pipe which has 1½-inch in diameter to make a discharge pipe. Glue the PVC pipe and the fittings together.
- Then, use a rubber connector and steel hose clamps to connect them to the existing pipe.
- Place the battery (either deep-cycle 12-volt or AGM) into the protective plastic box. Set the whole thing onto a shelf nearby.
- Now, you need to connect the backup pump and the battery with low-voltage cables.
- Plug the battery charger into a nearby 110-volt electrical outlet. Plug the power cord of the primary pump too.
- Reach into the pit and lift your flow valve until the start of the pump to check if it’s working. Do the same to check if the newly installed backup is working.
Another popular type of backup is a water-powered pump. Procedures for both types are similar to some extent, but you still need to take a few steps differently.
6 Steps to Replace a Water-Powered Backup Pump
- Locate your home’s water supply system and restrict it. If it’s too complicated for you, just restrict the particular section that is responsible for feeding your basement. For the majority of locations, restricting the municipal’s water supply works fine.
- Locate the pump’s outlet and inlet connectors. Lift the pump out of your sump. Most water-powered pumps include special connectors to feature a useful interface between the water supply and the pump. Unless they’re damaged, you can reuse them.
- Place the pump inside your sump making sure that nothing but the switch mechanism stays deep inside your pump. Most designs require the other parts to remain outside the pit.
- Connect pipes (inlet and outlet). Reconnect your home’s water supply to your house or basement.
- Run a quick test just as discussed for a submersible/pedestal replacement project.
- Use a sump cover or replace a broken/damaged one.
Finally, we think it makes sense for homeowners to know if they should replace the whole unit when everything’s okay except the failure of one or two of its components.
Let’s say that the float switch or the impeller isn’t functioning well. You can inspect if they’re tangled or clogged. Replacement isn’t a must if the problems can be fixed. Read our in-depth article on float switch replacement.
To replace an impeller, you should remove all screws from the pump’s base and the impeller casing. Put the new impeller inside the casing and then secure it. Put all screws to secure the base. Place the pump in its place and reattach its outlet pipe. Start the pump to check if the impeller is good.
That’s the nitty-gritty of a sump pump replacement. Hopefully, you got the details right. Feel free to ask questions (if you have any) about the topic.