Do You Have A Sump Pit Without A Pump? (Do This!)

Stacy Randall
by Stacy Randall

Keeping your basement dry is an essential part of the integrity of the foundation of your home. Flooding problems not only cause damage in the basement but also can be costly. If you have a sump pit but no sump pump, you need a system to control the water flow.

Perhaps your sump pit doesn’t hold any water, in which case, you may not need a pump. However, more than likely, you’ll need something, but if your sump pit has no pump, you can use an alternative. Sump pump alternatives include French drains, portable utility pumps, waterproofed walls, gutters, and ground grading.

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What Is a Sump Pit?

A sump pit, sometimes known as a sump crock, is a basin in the lowest part of the basement. You place the basin deep enough to allow the drainage pipe to remove any water collected in the pipes. If the pipes hold water, this can cause unnecessary moisture against the foundation, creating a damp space.

Drain pipes extend into the pit far enough to create a tight seal. If the drainage pipe doesn’t extend far enough into the pit, there is a chance of foundation erosion.

What Is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump goes in the sump pit to pump out any water collected in the pit. There are two types of sump pumps, submersible and pedestal.

A submersible sump pump is a fully contained electric pump at the bottom of the sump pit. A pedestal sump pump sits at the bottom of the pit, while the motor is above the pit.

Both pumps should operate automatically. If you have to operate them manually, there is an increased risk for the pumps to fail during an emergency. A sump pump operates by a switch that can be float activated or pressure activated.

A float-activated switch is typical where there is a floating device that has a tilt sensor. If it rises to a set level, it will activate the pump to remove any water from the pit. A pressure switch operates if the water level is above the sensor, activating the pump.

What Should I Do If the Sump Pit Doesn’t Have a Pump?

If you have a sump pit but no sump pump, you will need a drainage system or sump pump alternative. Potential sump pump alternatives are French drains, ground grading, or gutters to improve drainage away from the home.

French Drains

French drains are a common sump pump alternative. Instead of actively pumping water from the sump pit when the water level rises, French drains passively drain water away.

French drains are a good option to minimize water, but they will not keep water out of the basement. If there is high water flow, you may need a portable sump pump to make sure there is no water pooling.

Portable Utility Pumps

A portable sump pump in low areas that commonly flood after heavy rain are an effective alternative. Portable pumps are not as powerful and can’t handle exposure to the elements for long periods. To ensure they work properly, bring them in after they finish the job.

Waterproofing the Walls

Often, homebuilders can miss a spot when caulking so water can seep in from the ground. If you want to keep water out of the basement, waterproofing the walls is an easy option. If you can identify where the water is leaking in through the wall, you can place waterproof caulking into the cracks.

Installing or Repairing Gutters

Installing gutters or improving or repairing your current gutters is a great way to keep your basement from flooding. This doesn’t drain water from the basement or prevent water from entering it, but it moves water away from the home.

If you have gutters already, consider looking into the last time you cleaned them. Over time, leaves, debris, and other materials can clog gutters. Therefore, you should clean gutters yearly as part of your maintenance routine.

Grading the Ground

Grading the ground, also known as sloping, is an effective way to push water to drain away from the home. When building your home, ideally, builders would include a slight slope in the ground leading away from the foundation. The slope helps water drain out and away from the home instead of into the basement.

Check the ground around the foundation of your house and make sure the slope is at least 30 degrees away.

Three Sump Pump Mistakes You Should Avoid

Your home may or may not have or require a sump pump. Whether you need a sump pump depends on your home’s age, where you live, and your area’s water table level. For example, if you live in the midwest, a sump pump is usually standard.

A sump pump is an important part of the plumbing system that extracts excess water out of the discharge valve. Most sump pumps are in a sump pit with the discharge pipe hooked to the left side of the unit. If your sump pump is installed correctly, it will collect all excess water around your home.

If your house has a sump pump, here are three mistakes to avoid to keep it functioning correctly.

1. Installing and Maintaining Your Sump Pump

When installing a sump pump, make sure to do it correctly. If you’re not experienced in plumbing, call a professional. Proper maintenance and installation are important parts of keeping your sump pump functioning correctly.

When you purchase a submersible sump pump, you should place it inside of the sump basin. Secure an airtight lid of the sump basin to keep moisture inside of the basin and prevent dampness. Submersible sump pumps are quieter, so you can use them in finished basements that function as a living area.

2. Have a Sump Pump Backup Plan

Sump pumps run on electricity, so always have a backup plan. Heavy storms with wind gusts and lightning often knock out power, preventing your sump pump from running. If you have an electric sump pump, avoid power outages by having a backup source of power.

A 12-volt deep cycle marine battery pack or generator can power your sump pump if the electricity goes out. Sump pump battery backups can run between $300 to $500. An electric charger can keep the backup battery fully charged.

If you have a backup battery, use a plastic case or wall mount to install the battery. Don’t store or install the backup battery on the floor in case the sump pump overflows. You don’t want the overflow of water to damage your battery.

Make sure to mount an outlet above floor level and near the primary system. This is to avoid running extension cords across the basement from a sump pump motor to an outlet.

3. Testing Your Sump Pump

Sump pump mistakes are common, so it’s critical to be proactive. Test your sump pump often to give you time to repair if needed.

To test your sump pump, pour a five-gallon bucket of water in the drum to check that it’s functioning properly. The pump should turn on immediately. If there’s a problem, turn it off and discharge the water.

Inspect for slow leaks by taking a reading from your water meter. Don’t use any water overnight, then take a reading in the morning. If the reading has changed drastically, troubleshoot the leak and repair the sump pump.

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Related Questions

What is the average lifespan of a sump pump?

When water enters your basement, the sump pump pulls the water away from your foundation and into the wastewater system. According to the US Department of Housing and Development, the average life expectancy of a sump pump is ten years. If a sump pump is too small, it may not pump out water effectively, causing it to have a shorter lifespan. It’s important to choose the right size and capacity sump pump. How often you use your sump pump will also determine its longevity.

What is the average cost of a sump pump?

Replacing a sump pump can be a daunting task, but it’s relatively straightforward and you can likely do it yourself. Before installing your new sump pump, make sure it’s the appropriate size for the sump pit and has enough power. Sump pump installation costs $1,011 on average, but most homeowners will spend between $490 to $1,170. If the sump pump and pipework are already in place, expect to pay $490 for a professional replacement. If you do the replacement yourself, you may only spend about $280.

What are the different sump pump levels?

There are three levels of sump pumps, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. Level 1 sump pumps are poor draining sump pumps that run non-stop. This pump operates every two days, so it doesn’t require testing as often. If you have a Level 1 sump pump, keep a spare pump for a quick replacement in case of system failure.Level 2 sump pumps are the ideal system design that only runs during heavy rain. This sump pump requires periodic testing to ensure that it’s running properly. Level 3 sump pumps are the gold standard pump that rarely has to operate. Even during heavy weather, the system will not go off. Test this system each year.

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Stacy Randall
Stacy Randall

Stacy Randall is a wife, mother, and freelance writer from NOLA that has always had a love for DIY projects, home organization, and making spaces beautiful. Together with her husband, she has been spending the last several years lovingly renovating her grandparent's former home, making it their own and learning a lot about life along the way.

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