5 Star Plumbing | Expert Tips for Proper Basement Sump Pump Installation
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Expert Tips for Proper Basement Sump Pump Installation

5 Star Plumbing > Blog > Expert Tips for Proper Basement Sump Pump Installation

A sump pump is a pump used to remove water that has accumulated in a water-collecting sump basin located in the basement of homes. Sump pumps are utilized to prevent basement flooding, water damage, and mold growth by discharging water away from the home’s foundation. Installing a properly functioning sump pump system is crucial to keep basements dry all year round.

Why Install a Basement Sump Pump?

There are several key reasons to have a basement sump pump installation:

  • Prevent Costly Water Damage: Basement flooding can lead to irreparable damage such as warped floors and walls, electrical issues, and mold growth. A sump pump provides reliable water removal before levels get dangerously high.
  • Protect Belongings: Anything stored in a basement is vulnerable to water damage during flooding events. A sump pump safeguards items in basement storage areas.
  • Resist Hydrostatic Pressure: Groundwater pressing inward against basement walls and floors results in cracks and moisture seepage over time. A sump system relieves this pressure.
  • Guard During Power Outages: Battery backup sump pumps provide protection even when the power goes out during heavy storms.

Why Install a Basement Sump Pump

Choosing an Ideal Location

The sump pump location is a crucial consideration during basement sump pump installation:

  • Existing Sump Pit: If there is already a sump pit or basin built into the basement floor, install the sump pump there as it likely already has a drainage system in place.
  • Lowest Point: Identify the lowest spot in the basement where water accumulates during heavy rains or water table rise. This area likely has access to the perimeter drain tile that should feed into the sump basin.
  • Near Plumbing: Costs are lower if the discharge line can outlet water fairly close to an external wall or existing floor drain connection.
  • Accessible: The sump pump should be accessible for maintenance and inspection without requiring major dismantling of the system.

Types of Sump Pumps

There are several varieties of sump pumps available:

  • Pedestal Pumps: The most affordable option but also the least reliable with a shorter lifespan.
  • Submersible Pumps: Extremely reliable, long-lasting, quiet, and energy efficient but typically cost more upfront. The go-to choice for most homeowners.
  • Battery Backup Pumps: Secondary sump pumps that kick in when the main pump fails or cannot match incoming water. Help guard against basement flooding during power outages. More expensive but provide crucial redundancy.
  • Water-Powered Backup Pumps: Function off flowing basement water rather than batteries so they have very long lifespans. However, only operate when water levels get 15 inches or higher.

Types of Sump Pumps

Sump Pump System Components

A complete basement sump pump system consists of the following elements:

  • Sump Basin: Collects incoming water from basement drains or perimeter foundation tiles. Usually made of concrete, plastic, fiberglass resin, or steel.
  • Sump Pump: The core pump unit responsible for discharging water out of the home. Pedestal or submersible pumps are most common.
  • Discharge Line: Typically 1-1.2 inch PVC pipe that transports water to the final outlet destination.
  • Check Valve: Prevents backflow of discharged water into the basin. Often installed at the discharge line outlet.
  • Battery Backup Pump: Provides backup pumping power during primary pump failure or power outages.

Pre-Installation Preparations

Once an installation location is chosen, prep the area by:

  • Disinfecting & Cleaning: Scrub and disinfect interior basin surfaces to remove mold and debris. Shop vac stale water and sediment from basin.
  • Grading Surface: Use a laser level on basin floor to identify any uneven spots and fill low areas with gravel or concrete patch leveler to create a flat surface.
  • Marking Discharge Route: Trace the anticipated discharge pipe routing through the basement to the exterior outlet. Move any obstructions to optimize pathway.
  • Gather Tools & Materials: Assemble all necessary pumps, basins, discharge pipes, check valves, fittings, solvent cements, seals, and tools. Rent utility pump to temporarily drain basin if needed during job.

Sump Pump System Components

Installing a Submersible Sump Pump

Follow these key steps to install a submersible basement sump pump system:

  1. Place sump basin liner or gravel layer

Line bottom of pit with 2-4 inches of gravel or a cylindrical liner to promote drainage and prevent clogging pump intakes.

  1. Lower pump into position

Gently lower submersible pump vertically into center of basin. Ensure pump base sits flat on gravel layer.

  1. Mark and drill outlet hole

Determine discharge pipe route to exterior, mark point on wall, and drill appropriately sized hole. Insert outlet piping sleeve if not terminating at distant floor drain.

  1. Connect discharge piping

Measure and cut PVC discharge line to needed length. Attach a check valve at the terminal outlet end. Use PVC primer & cement to permanently bond all discharge line joints from pump to outlet. Ensure downward pitch for gravity drainage.

  1. Fasten pump discharge

Connect discharge line coming directly off the pump using a tight threaded seal or solvent weld for PVC line. Use hose clamps for auxiliary locking.

  1. Anchor pump

Secure pump into locking position, straight and upright within basin center, using bricks, sand bags, or fixed pump anchor plate kit.

  1. Install battery backup pump (optional)

Lower secondary pump into place stacked above main pump. Connect to independent discharge line. Anchor securely into corner.

  1. Connect to power

Have a certified electrician connect pump to dedicated 15-20 amp GFCI outlet circuit. Install electrical above flood line to avoid shorts.

  1. Inspect for leaks

Power on pump to verify smooth operation without leaks, kinks, clogs or backflows through any discharge piping. Perform brief test cycles to check pump shutoff level.

A pedestal sump pump install follows a similar anchoring, discharge, and power connecting process but start by securely fastening the pump base to the basin floor before making water line connections.

Installing a Submersible Sump Pump

Testing & Operating Sump Pump System

After installing a basement sump pump:

  • Pour five gallons into basin and flip float trigger to verify automatic turn on/off cycle at appropriate heights.
  • Pour additional water to make pump run continuously for 5-10 minutes. Inspect all discharge lines and connections for leaks.
  • Use pump periodically by pouring spare gallons into basin even if no basement moisture issues exist just yet. Prolonged sitting water can increase sediment buildup and impeller corrosion.

Regular maintenance steps include:

  • Monthly inspections of float trigger sensitivity and debris clearance in basin.
  • Annual checkups to examine pump, lines, and pit for sediment buildup or cracks plus battery replacement in backup unit. Leverage plumbers for more complex testing and repairs.
  • Every 2-3 years have backup pumps fully activated during simulated power failures.

Installing a properly functioning sump pump system takes research, precision, and some construction finesse but pays major dividends by keeping basements dry and protecting properties from catastrophic flood damage. Ensure full drainage functionality before finishing basement spaces. Consider adding interior perimeter drains or French drains if very damp basement conditions persist after sump pump installation. Be proactive against basement flooding because just an inch of water can mean thousands in repairs and months of headaches. Stay dry!

Testing & Operating Sump Pump System

Getting Nervous About Flood Season? Sump Pump Savvy FAQs

Q: How can I take extra care to maintain my system before wet months hit?

A: Prior to annual flood seasons, thoroughly clean basins of all debris and silt buildup that could clog pump intakes. Examine float triggers, discharge pipes, and check valve functionality.swap in new backup batteries. Briefly test that primary and secondary units activate properly at high water levels.

Q: How do I know if replacement pumps or basin upgrades are needed?

A: If over 10 years old, it’s wise to replace pedestal pumps with modern submersible units for longevity and efficiency. Pit liner cracks or extreme corrosion also signal upgrades. Annoyingly frequent activiations imply drainage volumes exceed pump capacity or signify blockages.

Q: What pump types are ideal for houses with crawl spaces or concrete slab floors?

A: For crawl spaces, smaller effluent pumps that only discharge greywater from air conditioning units or dehumidifier flows may do the trick. In spaces with concrete floors, external perimeter drainage tiles can feed inward to sump pits even if no basement exists.

Q: How much might a fully reliable sump pump system cost on average?

A: With professional installation, homeowners pay $1,100-1,900 for complete systems with a basin, submersible pump, battery backup, check valve and discharge line. DIY costs for just replacement primary pumps run $200-500 sans labor fees.

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