April Showers! Sump Pumps and Back Up Pumps


Flooded Basement
Flooding basement

Spring is here and it appears that we are getting a lot of calls coming in for failed sump pumps and installation of back-up sump pumps.


A few reminders and tips on prevention, it’s always good policy to have a good water management program applied to your exterior.

  • Ensure gutters and downspouts are clean and clear of any debris.
  • Downspouts should terminate preferably 5 feet away from your foundation (3ft minimum)
  • If water barrels are used ensure the overflow is not terminating adjacent to the foundation and as per the downspouts terminate 5 feet away.
  • If your sump pump discharged to the exterior adjacent to the foundation wall it should be a minimum of 3 feet away, again we prefer it extended out to 5 feet.
  • Grade should fall away from the house foundation wall to assist water shedding from downspouts.
  • Consider using 10ft weeping tile extensions during early spring when most rain or heavy rain is forecasted.
  • Window wells should be cleaned out and can be covered with clear covers to help keep water away.
  • Side walks and driveways that are attached to the house foundation should be seal where they meet with a flexible sealant

Taking the time to address the above will go a long way in prevention and also reduce the amount of water your sump pump will need to handle.

Now to the interior and that hole in the floor, your sump pit and pump.

  • Ensure the pit is clean, debris in the pit will ultimately end up in your pump
  • Test that pump, most pumps are activated by a float that is either vertically attached to the pump or attached to a cord and floats on the surface. Lifting the float up to its maximum position should activate the pump
  • If you have a battery back up system, us the test button to check the pump operation and observe the battery light condition. If it needs to be replaced, lets get on it!

Is the sump pump correctly set?

Sump Pits
Sump pit Sump Pump

Probably half the pump systems we see are incorrectly set up, this maybe because of the DYI warriors trying to save a penny or two or inexperience plumbers.  The water that flows in through the weeping tile pipe into your sump pit is keeping your foundation dry. If the pump settings allows for water to sit in the weeping tile inlet pipe that means your foundation is being kept wet all the time. This can lead to structural issues, foundations sinking and often step cracking in exterior brick work. A properly set sump pump will start to pump just as the water meets the weeping tile or below, keeping your foundation on a solid footing.

What size pump do I need?

Not all pumps are the same, the pump should be capable of removing the water that flows into your pit easily and also fit within the pit diameter. Vertical column pumps have been used for many decades and provide good pumping for tight pits but are some of the noisiest pumps out there, submersible pumps with vertical floats offer quieter operation and work well in tight pits. Submersible pumps with horizontal floats should only be install in pits with the correct diameters.

1/3 HP or 1/2 HP are the most common residentially, bigger is better but often not required. 11/4 discharge or 11/2 discharge. Again, bigger is better but it should at the very least match the size of the outlet of the pump.

More to come on back-up sump pumps, stay dry and stay tuned!

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