What is a Sump Pump & How Does It Work?

sump pumpThis article is about one of your home’s unsung heroes: your sump pump. Here’s what you’re going to learn:

  • What is a sump pump, and how does it help?
  • How can you choose the right sump pump?
  • What are the signs you need to replace a sump pump?

Many homes have a sump pump, but it’s not something you think about often. In fact, many homeowners in Cincinnati, OH, don’t even really understand how it works, let alone how to check if it’s working properly. This helpful guide explains what you need to know about sump pumps.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is a type of water pump designed to remove excess water from the home. It prevents moisture from seeping into your basement. This includes rainwater and general moisture in the ground outside your home.

Submersible pumps sit inside the sump pit (we’ll explain all the parts of the sump pump system in a second), below the water level. Pedestal pumps stand upright, positioned in a way that they hang over the sump pit.

Sump pumps can pump thousands of gallons of water an hour, making the difference between a flooded basement and one that is completely dry. They have your back during the worst weather in Cincinnati, OH, from floods to intense rainstorms.

What Homes Need a Sump Pump?

If your home has a basement, you should seriously consider installing a sump pump, especially if you’ve had trouble with flooding in the past. The lower your home’s natural slope, the more important it is to have a sump pump protecting you. Sump pumps are like airbags: you don’t always need them, but you’ll be glad you have one in an emergency.

What are the Main Parts of the Sump Pump System?

The sump pump is just one part of your home’s water drainage system:

  • Sump basin: This is also called a sump pit. It’s a large, round hole dug down into the ground underneath your basement. Excess water collects here.
  • Sump pump: A sump pump gets rid of the water that leaks into the sump basin.
  • Float: The float helps the sump pump measure the water level in the basin. When it gets too high, the pump turns on. As the water drops again, the sump pump shuts off. This prevents the pump from getting damaged or running too long.
  • Drainpipe: This pipe lets the sump pump move the water out of your home and into the city’s storm drain.
  • Check valve: The check valve makes sure this water only flows in one direction. After all, you don’t want water coming back into the home.

When each part works correctly, it improves the water drainage of your home.

Why are Sump Pumps Important in Cincinnati, OH?

Cincinnati, OH, gets a higher than average amount of rainfall each year. The Ohio River has flooded many times over the years, both in 2016 and 2018. This amount of moisture makes it important to have a way to remove rainwater from your home.

Water problems and basement flooding can hurt your home’s underlying structure, cause mold problems, and damage carpeting, walls, furniture, and important possessions. One of the best ways to prevent water damage is to have a working sump pump system in your home. That way, your family is safe and sound, and every part of your home stays beautiful.

How Does a Sump Pump Work and What is It Used For?

If you’ve ever had a houseplant, you understand the concept of water drainage. Watering your plant gets the soil wet, but not all of the water stays there. Excess water leaks towards the bottom of the pot, filling up the tray underneath.

Something similar happens around your home. When it rains, water soaks into the ground. The excess moisture needs to go somewhere, and it flows towards the lowest point. Depending on the slope of your yard, this is often your basement.

That’s where the sump pump system comes in. By creating a large basin lower than the rest of the basement, water from the ground automatically seeps into this pit. Then, the sump pump moves the water to a drain system. The end result is that the basement stays nice and dry.

What Factors Can Help You Choose the Right Sump Pump for Your Home?

There are a surprising number of options when it comes to buying a sump pump. Our sump pump buyers guide can help you avoid feeling overwhelmed:

  • Durability and quality: Stainless steel models offer the best performance, dissipating heat better and lasting longer, but they’re also more expensive. Plastic pumps give you good quality for your money, but you may need to replace them from time to time.
  • Price: Submersible sump pumps often cost more than pedestal models, but they also have a longer lifespan and pumping output. This is because they sit inside the water, which keeps pumps cooler.
  • Horsepower: Most sump pumps range between 1/3 HP, 1/2 HP, and 3/4 HP. The amount of pumping power (and pumping speed) needed depends on the amount of moisture surrounding your home. New homes with good land sloping may only need a 1/3 HP pump. Deep basements and high water tables may require 3/4 HP pumps to move excess water fast enough in a storm.
  • Noise: Pedestal sump pumps can sound loud, even if they’re in the basement. Submersible pumps always run more quietly because they’re underneath the water level.

How Can You Keep Your Sump Pump Working Correctly?

One of the most important things you can do to protect your home is to make sure your sump pump always has power. In heavy storms, wind or lighting can leave your neighborhood and your home without power. That means your sump pump would stop working just when you need it the most!

The solution is a battery-backup sump pump system. This convenient system kicks in automatically. That way, you don’t have to worry about waking up in the middle of the night to worry about flooding.

It’s also a good idea to test the sump pump from time to time. Check it by slowly pouring several gallons of water into the sump pit. The sump pump should activate and drain the water, then turn off automatically.

What are the Signs Your Sump Pump Needs to Be Replaced?

There are several signs that your sump pump is starting to break down:

  • Strange noises coming from the pump
  • Pump running constantly
  • Strong vibrations
  • Rusted parts
  • Pump doesn’t turn on at all

As we said before, Cincinnati, OH, is no stranger to flooding and extreme storms. That means that you don’t have time to lose if your sump pump stops working. You need to get the system running correctly right away. That way, you can sleep better at night, knowing that your home is safe.

At Herrmann Services, we’ve been installing, repairing, and replacing sump pumps for over 50 years. We’re a family business with fully certified and insured plumbers and electricians. If you know your sump pump is having problems or you think it may need repairs, contact our experts right away for assistance!

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