A guide to sump pump types – features, key differences, installation, and more.
Pedestal – An electric pump that stands upright, with a motor a few feet above it that is not meant to get wet. It has a float-activated switch that turns the pump on when the water reaches a certain level. This type of sump pump is ideal for basements needing frequent water drainage. They usually are the least expensive but are noisier than the submersibles.
Submersible – These types of electrical pumps are installed in ground and are designed to work underwater. They have the same float-activated switch. They are more expensive than the pedestal pumps but are quieter and tend to have a longer life because their sealed, oil-cooled motors are protected from moisture and dust.
Plastic vs. Cast Iron
Plastic sump pumps suit some applications for the cost-conscience. Use cast iron models for contractor-grade, longer-lasting applications.
Water-powered – This type of pump runs off the water pressure from your home plumbing system and has the same float-activated switch. These pumps handle water at a comparable rate to the electric types, but require no electricity to operate. It can be installed along side an electric sump and is generally used as a back up system during a power failure.
Floor Sucker Pumps – New type of pump that is used mostly in basements, cellars or crawl spaces which do not have an actual sump pit. It is called a floor sucker pump because it removes water right down to within a 1/8″ of the floor (or from other surfaces like a roof or the ground). Available in various flow rates, manual or automatic operation, with some electronically controlled. These types of pumps were particularly useful during the east coast storms this fall.
No matter what type you have, each sump pump should have a check valve on the water outlet pipe so water does not flow back into the sump when the pump shuts off. Water flowing back and forth can cause the pump to turn on and off more than necessary and shorten the life of the pump.
Submersible Sump Pumps
The submersible sump pump features a watertight motor (sealed and submerged in oil) making it fully functional under water. It is placed at the bottom of a sump basin and installed below water level. Although a little more costly than the pedestal type, it has significant advantages.
- typically quieter
- requires less maintenance
- out of plain sight
- can handle larger quantities of water
- less hazardous to children
Sump pumps come in an array of sizes and styles. To find the right sump pump, begin by estimating your needs, and measure the size and depth of the sump pit to ensure a good fit. Two features that are important to consider when shopping around for a submersible sump pump are: GPM and horsepower.
Size and Power
- Capacity of water flow – GPM (gallons per minute)
- Horse power – motor capacity required to discharge the water
Manual and Automatic Switches
- Float-activated switch
- Sealed interior switch
An automatic switch is your best bet as it will activate the sump pump should flooding occur when you are not home. The manual switch requires that someone turn on the switch in order to start the sump pump.
When looking for parts or housings for your sump pump, make sure to avoid purchasing materials that corrode. Non-corroding materials such as cast bronze, alloy, stainless steel and epoxy-coated cast iron are durable and reliable.
Like any other mechanical device, a submersible sump pump can break down. If your philosophy is “better to be safe than sorry”, you need to have a back-up plan in place.
Extra protective devices such as alarms and battery powered back up sump pumps can be purchased to provide you with peace of mind and additional assurance against water damage in case of system failure.
Free installation or installation at a small fee may be offered from the place of purchase; look into it. It is recommended that a submersible sump pump be installed by a professional. Improper installation can result in system malfunction and thus cannot guarantee protection against flooding.
Floor Sump Pump “The Floor Sucker”
Every home owner has a fear of coming home to a basement full of water. A leak as a result of heavy rain storms or an accidental pipe burst has the potential to cause severe damage to your basement or cellar area. Even a few inches of water can destroy your precious belongings and/or instantly wipe out your treasured memorabilia. If your home does not have a sump pump to protect your basement from water, it is crucial that you find another way of keeping water out. A floor sucker is a versatile utility sump pump that can handle the task.
The Effectiveness of a Floor Sucker
The floor sucker was created for homeowners who do not already have a sump pump in their home. The unit is highly versatile and can be used to protect your basement, cellar, roof and even crawl space against water damage. The floor sucker runs with the assistance of an oil-filled motor and is housed in an epoxy cast aluminum shell. It can be used fully or partially submerged, indoors and outdoors, and can drain down to 1/8 of an inch. Depending on your needs, there are different models available including the 1200 GPH pump which features a 1 inch discharge with garden hose adapter, a 26.3 inch shut-off head capability, and a screened inlet. In addition, each model has varying flow rates and can be manually or automatically operated. Other than for home purposes, a floor sucker can be used for commercial and industrial needs including pet applications, statuary fountains, pool covers, equine and livestock therapy, air conditioners and machine tool coolants. In any situation requiring the transfer or recirculation of liquid, the floor sucker is well-suited. So whatever your specific need, there is a pump that can safely and effectively handle the task.
Detect a Leak with a Water Alarm
You can never take too many precautions when it comes to protecting your home from water. A water alarm is a tool used to detect leaks that can cause irreparable damage. It detects water on a surface with its two metal contacts. The device runs off a standard 9v battery and can be placed in any location where there is a risk of water seepage.