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Sump Pump Installation for Do It Yourselfers

How 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 project.

Buying the Right Sump Pump

An important factor when buying a sump pump is the horsepower rating.

 

Common horsepower 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.

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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 floor.

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 the well.

 

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