With all of the flooding and water problems many local Minnesota homeowners have had over the past few weeks I thought a great subject to write about would be sump pumps. What are they, and how do they work? Well, unlike many of the appliances or electronic devices in your home, a sump pump is probably something you have bought out of neccessity or prevention. The goal of a sump pump is is to help keep the area under the building dry and to prevent it from taking on water or flooding, for Minnesota homeowners this usually means your basement.
Sump pumps have been a common device in many homes for years, primarily in homes of low-lying areas or places where rapid melting of heavy snow can occur. Excessive moisture in places such as a basement can cause thousands of dollars of damage including mold and mildew growth, bringing with it health related hazards. Simply put sump pumps in most homes throughout the state are an important device.
Now that we know what a sump pump is and its purpose, I'll touch a little on how they work. A sump pump usually stands in a sump pit (as shown in the illustration above) a hole about 2 feet wide and and anywhere from 2-4 feet deep with a gravel or concrete base. This hole or pit is generally placed in the lowest part of your basement or crawlspace or an area of your basement/crawlspace that is being affected by moisture. As the pit fills with water through a drain tile system or natural rise the float on the sump pump will rise and activate the pump allowing water to be discharged out of the pit and through piping away from the home. This process will continue as water fills into the pit and will stop when moisture ceases; typically from rainfall or snowmelt stopping. So there it is, a general overview of sump pumps. In my next installment of sump pumps I will explain sump pump types, and maintenance involved.