How to Install a Sump Pump

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How to Install a Sump Pump

Adding a sump pump to your home can help keep the basement dry and protect the foundation from future flooding. Installing the system isn’t as difficult as you might think, but it can take a little plumbing knowledge and some time to get right.

What is a Sump Pump?

A sump pump is an appliance that pumps water out of your basement or crawl space and out to a suitable discharge location. That may be a natural runoff point, a dry well or a municipal sewer if local regulations allow.

Installing a sump pump can prevent basement flooding, which can cause damage to your home. A sump pump uses a float to detect water and automatically sends it away to the exterior of the house.

How Much Does it Cost to Install a Sump Pump?

The cost to install a sump pump is between $500 – $2,000 depending on the materials, supplies, and labor needed.

Dig a Hole

First, find a good location to place the sump pump. This will ideally be the lowest point of your basement, where the most water accumulates.

Once you have found the perfect spot, use a sledgehammer or demolition hammer to chop through the concrete floor to dig a hole that is wide and deep enough to set the sump basin in. The top edge of the basin should be flush with the floor.

Next, fill the hole with gravel, up to about 6 inches below the floor. This gravel will promote good drainage and allow water to move into the sump basin instead of gathering on your basement floor.

Once the hole is filled with gravel, pour a 6-inch layer of concrete over the top. Mix one part cement, two parts sand and three parts gravel. Then, smooth out the concrete with a trowel until it is flush with the floor and the liner.

Set the Basin

You also need a check valve (it keeps the water that has been pumped out from flowing back into the basin when you deactivate the pump) and a discharge pipe, which directs the water outside to your chosen drainage area. To install the discharge pipe, follow your specific pump’s instructions.

Before completing the installation, be sure to select a cover that will help prevent cold air, insects and rodents from entering your home while the pump is turned off. You can buy one of these covers at most home improvement stores.

Install the Sump Pump

The first step is to find a low-lying spot for your sump basin. This should be sloped downward to drain water away from your house and ideally near an outside wall for easier placement of discharge pipes, if local codes allow it.

A sump pump removes the water that builds up in your basement by moving it into a special drainage pipe and directing it to a specified area. This is designed to avoid pools of standing water that can damage your basement’s foundation and cause mold, mildew and rot.

Once the drainage PVC pipe is installed, attach a check valve to the end of it so that it will prevent backflow of pumped water. This is a crucial part of the system, and can save you from a costly pump burnout or an endless on/off cycle.

Test the Sump Pump

The first step to ensuring the pump is working properly is to test it. There are a few simple ways to do this.

Start by unplugging the pump from an outlet, and then plug it back in again. You should see two separate cords – one for the float switch, and the other for the motor.

Now, pour some water into the sump crock slowly until the float rises. Once it does, the pump should turn on and start to drain water.

If the sump crock does not drain, then there may be a problem with your pump. There could be a clog in the discharge line or a blocked check valve. If these are issues, the pump should be replaced.

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Casey Loeber

Casey Loeber is the founder of His mission is to share the best information online about plumbing jobs and help plumbers lead fulfilling careers.

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