Sump Pumps And Their Importance

Home Inspector with Prokore Inspections

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.

diagram of a centrifugal sump pump

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.


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Posted By: Randy King - Principal Inspector - Progressive Property Inspections

Proudly offering property inspection services to the following south central Minnesota Communities:

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Kevin Cavanaugh
Keller Williams Hudson Valley Realty - Tappan, NY
Lic. Associate Broker, ABR, GREEN

Randy, yes that's all well and good, but usually the power goes out when the storm comes in.  And if you don't have a generator then the sump pump is useless.  So many people don't consider that aspect.

Mar 22, 2010 06:22 AM #1
Randy King
Prokore Inspections - Mankato, MN

Kevin, power outages are always a real issue, however generators are not needed. Many back-up systems are avaliable for homeowner at relatively low-cost especially in comparison to a generator. Back-up systems utilize a seperate pump powered by a battery similar to that of a car battery and can be purchased at most hardware stores including your big-box chains.

Mar 23, 2010 02:04 AM #2
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