Basement Sump Pumps 101

Published on June 17th, 2022

In this post, the basement waterproofing experts discuss everything you need to know about basement sump pumps. 

What is a Sump Pump?

Basement sump pumps are pumps used to remove ground water that has accumulated underneath a home’s foundation. It detects when the water starts to rise and pumps it out before it enters the basement. Sump pumps are most commonly used where basement flooding is a regular occurrence.

How a Sump Pump System Works

  1. A sump pit (aka sump basin) is dug in the lowest part of the basement – that is where the pump is placed.
  2. As the water in the sump pit rises, it activates a switch that turns on the sump pump.
  3. The sump pump pumps the water out of the pit through a discharge pipe.
  4. The discharge pipe carries the water away from the home to a place where it will no longer be problematic, such as a dry well or a storm drain.

To ensure that the entire basement remains dry during heavier rains, a basement drainage system may be installed along the exterior walls, either on the inside or outside of the basement. If you have basement water problems and are installing a sump pump, our team at Basement Technologies recommends adding this crucial component to the sump pump system.

The Components of a Sump Pump Liner

The liner is the housing of the sub-floor pumping unit. The liner should have perforations from top to bottom and have solid construction at the bottom. There should be a raised platform on the bottom of the liner to allow the pump to stand off the bottom of the liner itself.

There should be an option for redundancy in each sump pump. (i.e. – You should be able to put more than one sump pump into the liner when necessary.) The optimum situation is to have (2) primary sump pumps (one over the top of the other) with a battery back-up system.


Sump pumps come in many varieties and are diversified by horse-power. Most basement waterproofing sump pumps are available in 1/3HP, 1/2HP and 3/4HP models. These should be adaptable to 11?2” PVC pipe for ease of installation. The 11?2” PVC pipe is more than sufficient to handle large amounts of water in a de-watering situation. The best horse power pump for use in most basement applications is the 1/2HP.

We always recommend the 1/2HP over the 1/3HP. Most 1/2HP will pump approximately 3600 gallons per hour dependent on the “lift” to the discharge exit point.

Piggy-Back Switch

It is important to have a little more capacity when installing the primary pump. We always suggest having a piggy-back float switch where the primary motor of the pump can be plugged directly into the wall and the float switch can be by-passed. The most common way for a pump to fail involves the float switch. The piggy-back float switch cord is a great alternative to avoid a problem if the float does not work properly. By merely unplugging the back cord from the front cord and then plugging the primary cord directly into the wall (thus, bypassing the float switch) you will avoid having any disruption to the pump. Be sure that you have a piggy-back float switch whenever you buy a sump pump for a basement waterproofing system.

The pumping units installed are mechanical devices and need to be inspected and tested at least once a year. It is important that this process be scheduled as the pumps are mechanical devices and any mechanical device can have a problem or fail at some point.

Sump Pump Battery Backups

It is important to have a battery back-up in the event of an emergency situation. Power outages occur during storms, particularly when it is raining. If it is raining, your basement can get wet. If the power to the sump pump goes out, you will suffer a wet basement. Battery Back-Ups are designed to help get you safely through the storm for short periods of time. The best form of a back-up system is a direct generator for the sump pump or a whole house generator that automatically comes on if there is a power outage.

If a direct generator is not available, a battery back-up will be a good alternative to get you through the storm.

Sump Pump Discharges

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer to where to pump the water from your basement. The most common and the most reliable method is to come out from the side of the house with an 1 1?2” discharge pipe – go down directly to a Freeze Stop – switch to a 4” pipe that is placed 10” underneath the surface – going out 15’ to 20’ from the house into a Bubbler Pot.

Holes should be dug approximately 12” deep with a bed of stone underneath the Bubbler Pot. A hole is drilled in the bottom of the Bubbler Pot approximately 3?4” to 11?4” in diameter – so the water will not spray up onto the lawn as it flows into the Bubbler Pot. The water will saturate into the stone underneath. As this water builds up, it can then flow onto the lawn. Obviously, the amount of water that is pumped onto the lawn is contingent upon the amount of water pumped from the home. There is no way to measure or even guesstimate how much water will flow from the basement out onto the lawn. Therefore, it is always better to be safe than sorry. The Bubble Pot should always be placed in a location where water puddles will not affect the landscape or disrupt any other activity in the yard.

Another excellent option is the Lawn Magnum®– a patented system for water disbursement. The Lawn Magnum will not create sink holes in the yard as drywells will. It will accept the water at a 4 foot depth and push the water laterally into the aquifer. If the soil is hard and non-porous (clay) these systems should not be installed.

The Best Sump Pump

The perception of a sump pump is a visualization of an open pit with dead rodents and bugs floating around. The sump pumps of today are much different than the pumps of yesteryear. The best sump pump on the market is the Water Grabber® made by Basement Technologies. This sump pump has a radon-sealed lid with hidden pipes to avoid the old look of the sump pump described above. The Water Grabber has a drain in front (in case of plumbing pipe breakage or hot water heater failure) and the drain is radon-sealed.

Questions? Let us know how we can help. Our team at Basement Technologies is here for you!