Sump – a pit or hollow in which liquid collects, in particular – a depression in the floor of a basement in which water collects.

Pump – a mechanical device using suction or pressure to raise or move liquids, compress gases, or force air into inflatable objects such as tires.

Water in your basement is a real problem. What we would like to do is keep it out, but that is very hard and expensive if not done when you are building your house.

Let’s talk about sumps first.

They can be a hand dug hole in the corner of your basement, a plastic pit, a five-gallon drum, made out of bricks, concrete block, and sometimes just gravel. They are about 2 feet by 2 feet; the depth depends on the energy the person had that was digging it. The sole purpose of the sump is to collect the water so you can drain it out or pump it out. It is best if the floor is pitched towards the sump, so water naturally runs into the sump. Sometimes there are grooves in the floor or around the edge to guide the water. There can also be pipes under the floor, concrete or other, that drain the water into the sump.

Once the water is in the sump, we have to get rid of it. If you can install a pipe that drains “to air,” that is best. What that means is a pipe can be installed from the sump to the outside of the building that lets the water drain by gravity. This is by far the best method and should be thoroughly investigated before installing a pump.

Q. What’s wrong with a pump?

It is mechanical, breaks down, and it requires electricity to run. So if you get a severe rain, snow, or ice storm and your basement is flooding, the power goes out, all likely, you will have a flooded basement if you depend on a pump. A generator can be installed, but that is expensive. Call Clint Plumbing & Septic Services always recommends anyone with a pump to keep a brand new one in a box, so you have one to install when it breaks down. You will be able to get a plumber but not always the pump you want. Replacing the broken pump with the same make and model will make life easier, replacement faster, and less expensive.

Pumps, pumps, pumps. Now it gets confusing. There are so many kinds, how do I know what to buy? The most important thing is to buy the right size. Bigger is not better. You will need to know the amount of water that you want to pump, the height the pump will have to lift it, the length of pipe used for the discharge, any elbows or fittings, and the size of the discharge pipe. You want the pump to have long cycles. That is when it turns on you want it to stay on a long time, or as long as it can. The pump loves to run; it wants to run all day. What it does not like is to start and stop, start and stop, start and stop. So a properly sized pump will hopefully run for 30 seconds while pumping and before shutting off.

Now, the types of pumps. Some are in the water, a pedestal pumps motor is above the water, I don’t see any reason for one over the other. The selection entirely depends on the application. A pedestal pump can be used in a smaller diameter pit because the float goes straight up and down. Some floats swing wider and require a more massive pit. What you don’t want to happen is the float gets stuck on, and the pump gets stuck on. These pumps are water lubricated, so if it runs without pumping water, it will get damaged. Also, remember some floats are on a rubber wire, the action of the float will be different in the colder water. So your float and pump may act differently in the summer than the winter depending on the water temperature.

Q. Big disaster, no power, pump broken, what do I do?

If you have a generator and I comes on automatically your all set. If you have a small generator, pull it out and plug in the sump pump and the refrigerator. If you don’t have either, there are two options. One is a battery backup pump. I do not like this option. The battery will not last long, and in less than a day, depending on the amount of water in your sump, you will have a flooded basement. If you have municipal water, there is another option. It is a pump that uses your water to pump more water. Uses a venturi, blah blah, you don’t need to know how it works. Generally when the power goes out we all still have water, this backup will run. It may cost you a little on your water bill but its better than a flooded basement. There are also very inexpensive alarms you can purchase that will warn you when there is water in your basement. or

If you have questions, Call Clint Plumbing and Septic Services at 845-738-4636 and ask for a Sump Pump expert to visit your home and give you some advice.

Some complete packages –