How to Install a Sump Pump

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How to Install a Sump Pump. If water getting into your basement is an ongoing issue, a sump pump may be the answer to your problem. Houses built on flat terrain where heavy rains or melting snow don't get a chance to run off are often subject to basement flooding. Once the ground is saturated, ground water pressure builds up and forces water into a basement through tiny cracks in the concrete. A sump is basically a hole in the ground, cut through your basement floor. Water drains into the hole and the sump pump moves the accumulated water out and away from your house.

Things You'll Need

  • Caulking gun and caulk
  • Level
  • Jackhammer (rented)
  • PVC pipe, fittings and PVC cement
  • Cement and trowel
  • Gloves and eye protection
  • Hack saw, electric drill
  • Sump pump and liner

Preparing the Sump Pit

  • Determine where your sewer, water and other utility lines enter your home. You don't want to damage any existing utilities when digging your sump pit.

  • Locate your sump pit at the lowest point of your basement floor (use a level to determine where that point is). The location should be near an exterior wall and located close to an electrical outlet (if possible). The pump will need to be plugged into a GFCI protected circuit.

  • Determine where the discharge pipe is going to run out of your basement--usually through a rim or header joist near the sump. Decide how you are going to route the pipe from the pump to the outside of your house.

  • Purchase your sump pump and liner before you move on. The sump liner (in reality, a plastic tub with holes in the sides so water can seep in) will act as a template for the hole you need to make in your basement floor.

  • Place the liner on the floor where you are locating your sump pit and trace around its outline.

  • Using a rented jackhammer cut around the marked outline and break up the concrete into manageable sized chucks for easy disposal.

  • Dig the hole to the depth recommended by the sump pump manufacturer (usually 24 inches) and level the bottom.

  • Put the liner in place and ensure it fits. Seal around the edges of the liner with concrete and trowel it level with the floor.

Choosing a Sump Pump

  • Two types of sump pumps are available: submersible pumps and pedestal pumps. Both designs move water equally well.

  • Submersible pumps actually sit in the bottom on the sump pit and are "submersed" in water. A float valve rides on the surface of the water and activates the pump when the water level rises. Since they are underwater, submersible pumps are generally quieter than pedestal pumps.

  • Pedestal pumps have their motors mounted on top of a standpipe where the motor won't come in contact with the water, but a float valve on the water surface activates them as well. Since the motor is not in the water, a pedestal pump is usually more noisy that a submersible pump. However, pedestal pumps are often less expensive.

Installing Your Sump Pump

  • Attach the discharge pipe to the sump pump (usually 1 1/4" PVC) and set the pump into the pit. Check for level and use plastic shims if necessary.

  • Drill a hole through the rim or header joist to accommodate the discharge pipe and cut and run a piece of PVC pipe through the hole. You want about 6 inches of pipe outside the house and 3 or 4 inches inside the house.

  • Measure and cut PVC pipe to attach to the discharge pipe installed through your wall and run back to the discharge pipe of the pump.

  • Dry fit to ensure lengths are right and then cement the pipe sections.

  • Support the pipe runs by attaching to the walls or joists.

  • On the outside, caulk and seal around the discharge pipe and attach a pipe to run the water at last 6 feet away from your foundation. Use a diverter to direct the water well away from your house.

  • Adjust the float valve (as per manufacturer directions), plug in the pump and pour in 5 or 10 gallons of water to check the pumps operation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Pump capacity is rated on gallons per minute (GPM) or gallons per hour (GPH). The higher the number, the more water the pump will move.
  • Another important factor that determines how well a pump will work for you is the pump's "head" or " lift." The pump needs to lift water from the bottom of the sump pit to the discharge pipe running out through your wall.

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