What aspect should people consider before purchasing the sump pump?

A sump pump is a pump that sits in your basement either above the floor or below the floor. The below floor version is called a submersible pump. The system pumps out the water that collects in the sump basin and sends it out of the house. Unfortunately, if you have a basement that is constantly damp and is prone to flooding, it becomes a necessity when other water proofing options do not solve the problem. If this item becomes a necessity, there are many points to consider before you purchase them. Most importantly, you want to get a well-reviewed, high-quality unit.

The first thing to consider is the amount of dampness in your home, for minor dampness a dehumidifier may be a better option. For those basements that have more than minor water problems, there is also the option for outside drains or curtain drains, adding, replacing or repairing gutters, and making sure your landscaping and hard surfaces (e.g., driveways, sidewalks, patios, etc.) slope away from your home. Although these can be time-consuming and sometimes expensive fixes, it can be better than dealing with the mess and expense of installing a sump pump.

When the problem is apparently beyond these fixes, (e.g., a high water table that gets higher when it rains), and there’s no getting around it: You will need a sump pump. The first consideration would be the space available for the unit versus the noise level of the pump. Choosing a submersible style over pedestal style will allow the pump to be covered with a lid. The lid will allow the noise the pump creates when running to be kept to a minimum. The lid also stops debris from falling into the unit and prevents the moist air from seeping back into your basement. Another consideration is the longevity of the pump.

Since there are cost and construction involved with the installation of the pump, you definitely want it to last as long as possible. The main component to focus on is the type of core in the unit. A pump with a cast iron core will lengthen the life of the unit because the cast iron helps dissipate heat to the surrounding water.

Since sump pumps can clog, minimizing the clogs is important. The pump should have a no-screen intake design coupled with an impellor that can handle solids up to ½-inch in diameter. The impellor is the part of the machine that moves the fluid by rotation. If a clog stops this rotation, the pump backed up and caused the flooding to return.

The switch and the float are other parts to consider. A mechanical switch versus a pressure or diaphragm switch. These switches are fully enclosed, and this prevents tangles and obstructions. The mechanical switches use a short piece of cord that can become tangled and obstructed easily. You also want to make sure the float is solid and will not become waterlogged. When waterlogged, the pump fails to switch off and can cause it to burn up. You also want an alarm that will sound when the level gets to a certain height as a warning.

Other items to be considered are the power, the head pressure, the power cord length, and backup systems. The power is just the amount of horsepower the unit requires. The head pressure refers to the distance the pump moves the water. This is also referred to as the shutoff head. When considering the power cord length, it is good to remember that running a more powerful motor from the main service panel could require wiring changes. The backup system becomes important because when there are storms, power can go out and it is during those times that the pump is needed. With the power outage, the pump can stop working so having battery backup, or an alarm becomes crucial.

Backup failure can be prevented by installing a second pump next to the first. This might be an especially good idea if your basement has become a living area. The secondary pump can be set-up to automatically take-over if the primary pump fails or is overworked. Another backup option is the battery backup pump; the battery backup kicks in when the power goes out and can last for up to two days depending on the demand put on it. There are packages available when choosing to install more than one pump just from sump pump guides, but the less expensive option is to add a water alarm or to have a spare pump on hand in the case of main pump failure.

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