Sump Pump Installation for Do It Yourselfers
to Install a Sump Pump to Ensure a Dry Basement
By Mark J. Donovan
|Most homes with basements experience wet basement problems
at some point. Sometimes the problem is limited to only high moisture
levels, but for many basements the occasional puddle or small flood will
form after a particularly rainy period of weather. One of the best ways to
prevent a wet or flooded basement is to be proactive by installing a sump
pump in the basement floor. Other than having to cut a hole into the
basement slab, installing a sump pump is a fairly easy do it yourself
Buying the Right Sump Pump
An important factor when buying a sump pump is the horsepower rating.
ratings for sump pumps are ¼, 1/3, and ½ horsepower. The horsepower rating gives
you an indication of how strong the sump pump is, and more importantly how many
gallons per hour (GPH) it can pump. This said, the same horsepower rating is not
necessarily the only factor in how many GPH a sump pump can pump. The size and
the design of the sump pump also play an important factor in the GPH it can
pump. For example there are ½ horsepower sump pumps that pump 3,000 GPH while
there are other ½ horsepower sump pumps that can pump up to 7,500 GPH.
|In general, however, the higher the sump pump horsepower
rating, the more GPH it will pump and the less work it will have to do. In
addition, a higher horsepower rating sump pump will typically have a longer
lifespan, mainly due to the fact that it won’t have to ever work as hard as
it’s rated for.
Another important factor to consider when buying and installing a sump pump
is the switch mechanism for turning it on and off. Correct operation of the
switch is critical for ensuring your sump pump works when you need it.
You can buy sump pumps with “2 pole switches”, diaphragm switches, and mercury
switches. The 2 pole switch is considered the most reliable, so I would advise
staying away from the other two switch types.
Sump Pump Holding Wells
Sump pump holding wells can also be purchased. I highly recommend buying a
larger sump pump well, e.g. 20 to 30 gallons, over the smaller 5 gallon types.
The larger the sump pump holding well the less often the sump pump will have to
cycle on and off. The more frequently a sump pump cycles on and off the shorter
the lifespan of the sump pump. Admittedly a larger sump pump well requires a
deeper and larger hole in your basement floor, however it’s a small price to pay
upfront than having to replace your sump pump every few years.
Installing a Sump Pump
The first step in installing a sump pump is cutting or jack hammering out a
section of the basement floor. You should locate the sump pump in the lowest
area of the basement floor. Use a level to find the lowest point in the basement
I highly recommend using a concrete cutting saw to cut the hole in the basement
concrete slab. They are big, noisy and heavy, however. Consequently you may want
to hire a professional to cut the concrete slab.
This said, you can rent the concrete cutting saw at tool rental stores if you’re
so inclined to do it yourself. I don’t recommend jack hammering because it
doesn’t do as neat of a job cutting the concrete slab.
After cutting out the concrete block dig down a bit so that the sump pump
holding well can sit in it. The hole should be dug deep enough so that the lip
of the well will sit slightly lower than the basement floor surface. This way
water can easily drain into it. Once you’ve installed the sump pump well you’ll
then need to mix up some cement to re-cement the basement floor around the well.
Once the sump pump holding well is installed you can now place the sump pump
into the well.
Next, plumb up your sump pump with the necessary PVC piping to direct the water
from the pump to the outside of the home. You may need to use an adapter to
convert the threaded connection on the sump pump to the particular diameter PVC
pipe you’ve selected. Also make sure to install a check valve into your PVC
piping to prevent already pumped water from draining back into the sump pump
well when the sump pump shuts off. The check valve can attach in line with the
PVC piping using a couple of rubber boots and clamps. Make sure to use PVC glue
for gluing together sections of PVC piping. Also, you may need to use some
plumbers tape on the adapter between the sump pump and the PVC piping.
Finally, plug your sump pump into an electrical outlet that is on a ground fault
circuit breaker interrupter. Make sure you use an electrical circuit breaker and
the rated Romex wire appropriate for the sump pump you’ve purchased. Test the
sump pump by pouring water into the pump well. When the water in the well
reaches a certain level the sump pump should turn on and pump the water from
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