What is a sump pump?
The good news is if you don't know what a sump pump is, you probably don't need one. Those who deal with wet basements regularly tend to be well-versed in their use. A sump pump is a device that sits in the basement either under the floor or in a basin on top of it. When water collects in the basin, the pump moves it outside.
Sump pumps come in two formats: automatic or manual. An automatic pump has a water-level sensor that turns the unit on when necessary. A manual pump is one you turn when the time is right. It still does the pumping for you, but there is no sensor to tell it when to start - that is your job.
Does every flooding basement need a sump pump?
Sump pumps can be a nasty business, so it is better to fix whatever problem is causing your flooding if possible. For example, if there are cracks in the foundation of the house that let water into the basement, try sealing them before installing a sump pump.
If the unthinkable happens, like an unfixable flooding problem in the basement, it is better to have a sump pump than not have one. Some areas are prone to flooding, so you need one. For example, homes in the metro section of Detroit often have sump pumps to handle floodwater from one of the many area lakes. Some local ordinances require them in new construction homes, whether the area is prone to flooding or not.
When buying a house, a sump pump is a warning sign. Ideally, you want to buy a home that doesn't have a wet basement. Moisture problems in a structure can lead to mold and other health hazards. If you don't see a sump pump, look at the walls of the basement. If you see watermarks several inches above the ground, the home probably has a sump pump under the foundation.
What to Look for in a Sump Pump
When sump pump shopping, you should look for a unit that is submersible, instead of one that sit above ground. A submersible pump can be covered to cut back on the noise and to keep debris out of the pit. Other things to look for include:
- Purchase a sump pump that has a cast iron core. Cheaper models come with a plastic core that has a shorter shelf life.
- Look for a pump that features a no-screen intake design and an impellor that can handle solids up to ½-inch in diameter to cut back on clogging.
- Buy a pump with an alarm and water level sensor. The alarm tells you when the pump starts, so you can monitor its progress and deal with problems before the basement floods such as clearing clogs.
Your local Mr. Rooter® is a good source of information when it comes time to install or replace a sump pump. A sump pump is messy, so the less you have to do with it, the better. Call Mr. Rooter to handle that mess for you.